Speaking of design education – specifically in Australia, has gotten me thinking. I’ll speak mainly about Melbourne since that’s what I know – and who are the big guns in design education here? There’s the wonderful Monash University (Caulfield Campus), there’s also Swinburne University and RMIT. There’s other institutions but those three are the main ones that come to mind when looking to Design/Communication education.
I briefly worked at Monash University in the Faculty of Art & Design as the Assistant Marketing and Profiles Co-ordinator. Apart from having a convoluted name, the role itself was vague at best. Working under the freakishly fantastic designer and all-round superhuman Jen Clark we were able to comission some incredible collateral to advertise the faculty for Open Day 2010. The work was pushed out by brilliant guys at Alter. It looked great, it made sense, it was exciting, people liked it. People took home, kept and wore tshirts and badges with the designs on them. Follow the links and have a look at what they did for us at Monash – and tell me you don’t love it. Tell me it’s not some of the best Uni advertising you’ve ever seen! Also look at Alters other work because they kick butt and make me giddy. Lovely bunch.
If you have a look at Monash’s general advertising approah over the entire Uni it’s much different. It doesn’t really make sense. It’s not exciting, eye-catching, interesting. It doesn’t make me want to go there, it doesn’t make me want to find out more. Unfortunately I can’t find any images of the particular approach I’m thinking of, but I’m sure you’ve seen it. Usually some wonderfully healthy looking, multi-cultural bunch of people, grinning inanely. Then what? Then whack down a block of ol’ Monash blue over the image and set appearance to ‘multiply’. Is it just me, or is that boring? There’s one particular image that has a close up of womans face – she’s obviously lying down on the grass or something and they’ve used the same blue wash treatment. It just looks like she’s drowning. What a lovely message to put across – come to Monash, we’ll sink you and your education! Bloop bloop bloop gurgle gurgle choke cough splutter. Then there’s this sort of stuff:
Helvetica your Helvetica at Helvetica University. Blue shape cutout. Wee! Monash will stay the Helvetica University if it’s not more careful – nothing new, nothing exciting, get’s the job done, default choice. One thing I noticed at my time at Monash as a student was that on the main B building in the Caulfield campus - on the giant 3D Monash logotype stuck to the side of the wall… the M was back-to-front. It had been for years and years. Also, let’s face it – the coat of arms thing is getting kind of old.
What about Swinburne? I don’t even see anything from them. Ever. I can’t even remember what their logo looks like unless I google it. Which I just did. Ohh, no.
This disjointed wording stuff really gets up my nose. Swin. Bur. Ne. What? No, seriously, what is that? Trying to make the name into a neat little square monogram by breaking the word up into nonsensicle, disjointed little bullets of confusion? To be honest, if there’s one thing in typography that I will never do, it is that. But Swinburne isn’t the worst offender here. I know another University that kicks this strange approach out of the park. Presenting…
RMIT University. To be honest when I finished school and figured out I wanted to be part of the design world I thought RMIT was the bees knees. After a particularly horrible interview my mind was changed (Monash was the go – incredible staff that were genuine and approachable). I mean, at least they had interviews, unlike Swinburne (something puts me off about that). After a couple of years I saw some of the RMIT advertising popping up. They’re using the very popular Museo (Which I don’t really like in all-caps to be honest – it feels clunky). Like Monash, they set their corporate colour, some variation of red, to multiply. Okay, firstly, I don’t think the RMIT logotype font and Museo go together very well. At all. It makes me uneasy.
Maybe you like it, or think it’s okay – but I don’t. Rounded gently curving serifs on Museo vs the sharp traditional serifs on the RMIT type? Museo has a continuous weight whereas the RMIT uses starkly contrasting line weight. I don’t get it. But that’s no big deal, I guess. Don’t get me wrong – I like thier logo (what is it?), and sometimes I like this black/white/red thing they have going on – sometimes it’s kind of clever. Particularly with this X-ray:
But RMIT have pulled a Swinburne – breaking up copy into nonsensicle little chunks. The worst one I saw was actually on an advertisment for the Visual Communication degree. Cringe. Ouch guys, ouch. Here’s another one that makes me want to rip out my eyes. I think they’re trying to play with the “ience” in “Science” but there’s no link to that and uh… it’s not clever anyway. My exper-ience says NO.
I’m not critisizing these educational institutions. They produce some of the most incredible designers. The staff are top notch. The facilities are excellent. What I’m saying is this:
These institutions are the ones we go to in order to learn about design, about our craft. If the way they present themselves isn’t well designed – why? Lead by example. Teach by example.