The vacations are in full swing. Time to look back at the previous school year. We can take that literally. Every year, LUCA School of Arts Ghent offers its students the opportunity to help a real customer with a real briefing. This year, the briefing was extended to an agency: Serviceplan Brussels.
Theme? The story of data.
“In the course Design Thinking of the Bachelor Visual Design, second-year students work on real-life challenges. That is often an eye-opener,” said Fabienne Beernaert, Lecturer Bachelor Visual Design & Design for Impact. “Serviceplan’s briefing was much more complex than what we usually get. Yet this was able to entice several students, just because of the theme.”
An Rietjens, creative leader: “Developing talent, and learning from each other, that is an objective of our agency. That’s why we wanted to work with the students of LUCA Ghent on data, design and storytelling.”
From data to tadaa!
How can you transform dry data sheets into a story that offers information in an interesting way and is easy to share? Not focus on numbers but on conclusions and actions. And why not focus on experiencing data in new ways?
This question triggered an interesting dialogue between the students and the agency, where research and divergence were central.
“Creating is making something that was not there before. Working with existing or new codes. From that point of view, design is always a form of (de)coding with the goal of interpretation by your audience."
Tony Nauds-Ducène, creative leader
Tony Nauds-Ducène, creative leader: “We adjusted our expectations fairly quickly: from a finished deliverable as a goal to research. Even young people tend to narrow down quickly. Interesting to experience that. Is that lack of time, habit, the desire to be eager to implement? In any case, it was important for us, as the client, to make it clear that experimentation is also valuable. Otherwise you can never do anything really innovative or creative.”
Data and design are inextricably linked. Yet we don’t always think of it that way.
Tony: “Creating is making something that was not there before. Working with existing or new codes. From that point of view, design is always a form of (de)coding with the goal of interpretation by your audience. It remains applied design. As a designer you should develop a broad vision with an understanding of visual vocabulary. This is just as important as personal taste. You take that background into account in every design, no matter how small. Through inspiration sessions and examples, we showed the students how broad your thinking can be. It is simply surprising what you can do with data and how richly you can use it. In the words of Michael Bierut: not everything is design, but design is about everything. Be ready for anything,”
Alice Lee, International Client Strategist: “My colleagues and I work with data every day but for many people it remains very abstract. Design can make a big difference in providing our clients, based on real numbers, with coherent reporting through a good story or even an immersive experience.”
What were the most important learnings for the LUCA Gent teachers and students?
Fabienne Beernaert: “This assignment was outside our comfort zone for us as teachers and students. The students first studied the topic of data visualization and then came up with out-of-the box concepts from their own discipline (digital design, graphic design, illustration and advertising). We all embarked on an experimental path in which both as a client, as a teacher and as a student it was searching to think innovative, creative, big and bold through cross-pollination.”
What did the students themselves think of it?
Woud Schoutteten: “As a budding designer, it became clear to me how important storytelling is. Data can quickly be seen as ‘boring’, but as soon as you link a story to it, it can become very interesting and digestible.”
Thomas Tilquin: “As a designer we can have a big impact on how data is interpreted and this for many sectors and themes.”
Margot Rau: “The biggest added value, I think personally, are the real-life situations. Thinking out-of-the-box and not being afraid to fail once, that’s how you learn the most, the fastest and how it stays with you the best.”
Mauro Keymeulen: “Without strict expectations, a pleasant and instructive collaboration came about. At first we tried out more good ideas, but Serviceplan encouraged us to also explore more extreme elaborations.”
“Data visualization is a very creative and innovative field with a lot of depth! Everything we learned is stuff we can and will apply in reality.”
Alex Howie, student
An: “We learned a lot from both sides and take that with us to our daily activities. Serviceplan is an agency that dares to be very entrepreneurial, that is our DNA. We are not afraid to try something. We give opportunities to profiles and projects that at first glance might not be an exact match for a so-called agency. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. But we always learn! That’s also what it’s all about in a creative context: having and encouraging an open, learning attitude.”“House of Communication was a client, partner, coach for the students. With patience and attention to appreciation, constructive feedback was given in every meeting, allowing the students to make a growth curve in terms of content (data visualization) and project management (soft skills). In short, a successful experience,” according to Fabienne Beernaert.
An article by An Rietjens, Creative Leader Serviceplan