First Things First Project

Today, we were given a brief project that had to be completed within three hours based on the First Things First Manifesto.

Neil Angove lead the session and I felt he really captured the essence of the manifesto and was able to communicate effectively, making me really think of what type of designer I wish to be in the future.

Questions I was given to think about include:

  • What is the first thing to place first at the forefront of design?
  • What will be the effects of my design upon the wider world?
  • What is Sustainability?

Although these began to make me think more about what I do, there were a few points that Neil stated to us which tugged at me a little further:

  • Sustainability is living consistently with the way the world works.
  • Be responsible for every decision made.

It made me realise just how much design can really effect an individual and their behaviour. We have a responsibility to use that wisely and to ensure that whatever we create is well considered and thought through thoroughly. Always question your decisions.

The brief set required us to work in groups and create a visual piece of work for designers to get them to think differently about their approach to design through reflecting on the First Things First manifesto.


With this we created a presentation, intended to be a short video, which begins with audio of what can be found in everyday life, from traffic, to the news, to people. This then stops, bringing on the screen a series of quotes from individuals that have reflected upon the First Things First manifesto. This then ends with a slide containing a key message, which is intended to remain on the screen for a few minutes in order to allow for reflection and allow the message to sink in.

The concept behind the piece was to create something to target commercial designers. We wanted to create a sense of empathy. Although it is easy for young designers to state that we should only design for a true purpose, not just advertising, designers are expected to earn money in order to live. They can also become distracted by everyday life and forget to think of the bigger picture. It is therefore too impractical to make designers change their minds fully. We therefore wanted to change the angle slightly to allow designers to remember the reasons they entered the design world and to maybe take some time each day to work on something that can make a real difference in the world. It is trying to find a middle ground. I believe that this is a more realistic approach and does not belittle the designers profession.

In conclusion, it is trying to be empathic with commercial designers whilst also providing a sense of hope and optimism.

I do believe that this is a strong concept and is a way to get designers thinking more. I do think that the piece we created today could do with a lot more refinement, I think we could reconsider the final message at the end of ‘Look Beyond’ as I think that it is a little too commanding and on the whole could be a little more personal, perhaps like; ‘Can YOU Look Beyond?’ or ‘YOU Can Look Beyond’ simply through adding those two words the ‘you’ gives it a slightly more personal feel and ‘can’ provides a sense of optimism. I think more thoughts and consideration are needed into the messages as the smallest change can have a huge impact and alter the way it is perceived.

I do like the inclusion of audio in order to include more of the senses within the piece. It is something that everyone can connect and relate to and can therefore aid the visual and personal element in my opinion. I think that the use of the colour orange was quite smart as orange symbolises optimism and is uplifting. However, I think that we could perhaps experiment with the shade of the orange colour to see if we could find something a little softer, which would help to make the piece less aggressive. This can also apply with the typeface; although I like the bold look it provides I question if it is a little too harsh? I may of course be wrong, but I do think that if we had more time, more refinement and experimentation could have been achieved.

Nonetheless, I am still pleased with what we as a group created within the amount of time we were given. I think that our concept is the strongest element and with some refinement the practical piece has the potential to be as strong.



Author: marislathamgraphics

I am a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University studying BA Hons Graphic Communication.

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