Creative Process Study 16

01.10.2011 / Project: Big Design Challenge Cornwall

Dion Star


I am an independent Designer, Art Director & p/t University Lecturer at University College Falmouth.

Dott Cornwall is part of a program of events developed by the Design Council, driving design-led solutions to economic and social challenges throughout the UK. The Design Council, Cornwall Council, University College Falmouth and Technology Strategy Board have partnered to deliver the Dott programme throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly during 2010 & 2011.

SEA Communications, an emerging social design agency where charged with delivering DOTT’s final showcase project, a community design challenge. I was invited to come on board to provide some creative direction and to develop the identity.

My first task was to present an overview of the Design Challenge objectives & strategy. What were the areas of debate, themes and insights? This initial overview became the working brief for the identity.


By understanding the key themes and mind-set of the Cornish people we can deliver something that is appropriate for Cornwall. The three most important things (in my view) were as follows:

  • Poverty is deep rooted, but not all of the issues are immediately visible. Cornwall has a certain beauty, which masks the depravation that the statistics suggest. We need to make this visible.
  • To genuinely engage with the people of Cornwall we need to use a dialogue that plays to a strong sense of community.
  • Previous investment allocation has lacked transparency and meaning to many in Cornwall—transparency of information is vital.

Brand Strategy:

The naming of the community design challenge was all important. Initially the working title for this project was ‘Community Design Challenge’ or ‘Cornwall’s Big Design Challenge’.

My reaction was that we needed to future proof the identity so it can easily be rolled out in other areas. Positioning it in such a way that each ‘challenge area’ becomes a sub brand of the Big Design Challenge.


Community Strategy:

The Design Challenge needed to tap into different communities to allow for a bottom up growth, but Cornwall as a ‘community’ itself is too big a starting point. With a population of over half a million people we needed to break that down into something more approachable.
We arrived on 6 areas of focus;

  • Home & Community
  • Public Service
  • Work & Economy
  • Health & Care
  • Education & Skills
  • Infrastructure & Environment

By drilling down into these themes, we can find the smaller communities that are contained within, who have both the knowledge and expertise to allow for a period of co-discovery and co-design. Access to these groups would facilitate the two way exchange of information and provide the opportunity to gain meaningful insights into each area of focus.


As a ‘bottom-up’ project, my view was that the Identity needed to reflect this directly. By allowing the identity to be unique to this particular community, it would give them ownership of it. At this point the idea of a generative mark surfaced.

The idea is that each ‘challenge area’ would arrive at a unique mark coupled with it being a very basic way of mapping the type of challenges faced.


Identity Sketches:

Identity Final:

Top: initial state, Bottom: active


Big Design Challenge Cornwall – Work & Industry from SEA Communications on Vimeo.

Alongside the development of the identity I was also commissioned to Produce 6 trailers. Working on the storyboard for these films was a critical part of this project. The team at SEA were busy developing the website and we all found getting the language just right across all formats to be a difficult task. I think the work we were all doing independently unearthed the problems, which helped inform our use of language across all of our work. The act of inviting the submission of ideas in the form of a challenge question ie: “How do we address….?” etc we felt was the appropriate solution.

The film brief was to provide the context for the debate and follow the original overview bullet points. They were to be provocative yet responsible. By giving just enough insight into a number of key challenges, the aim was to provide an easier access point to the call to action; the submission of a challenge, and/or idea. The simple idea—a background layer showing the natural beauty of the area—adding familiarity and trust—set against the stark challenges that the local population face.

After storyboarding, I worked with Director Mark Jenkin to create the finished films and I commissioned Sally Rodgers & Steve Jones (A Man Called Adam) to create the music.

Banner Mock Ups

Infrastructure and Environment:

Home and Community:

Health and Care:

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1 comment, please join in the discussion

  1. 01.19.2011

    Superb example of how the final outcome unmistakably communicates the nature of the business and it’s offerings.

    The composition and arrangement of the basic shapes speaks volumes, and I doubt this would have never been informed without such a clear and thorough understanding of the company. The way the coloured shapes have been adapted across the various media shows how this has legs and impact as a visual language. Smart work.