Students excel at design brief set by industry professionals


Surface Pattern and Textiles students from Swansea College of Art at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) have taken part in a live brief set by an iconic wallpaper brand, culminating in professional feedback and an impressive display of work.

Mini Moderns 2023 Surface Pattern live brief

Mini Moderns, a London-based design duo Mark Hampshire and Keith Stephenson, partnered with UWTSD on this task and set the design brief for the students, which ran from October to January.

The brief asked students to design a ‘Pattern with a Story’ based around one of four themes: Travelogue, Culture, Day-Tripper or Home. The task was to use a personal narrative to develop a wallpaper first, then consider how the design could be adapted for other products such as household objects, accessories and furnishings.

At the start of the brief, Mark and Keith delivered a lecture at the University’s Dynevor campus in Swansea then provided midway digital feedback, giving students the chance to reflect on advice and develop ideas further. In January, Mini Moderns returned to campus to review and judge the exhibition of final designs, which had been printed in-house by the students using skills in screen, block and digital print methods.

The Surface Pattern and Textiles programme works with different brands each year to deliver the live brief, during which students must design to the requirements of real-world situations and are stretched to apply their styles and ideas to industry tasks. Experiencing a diverse range of clients and contexts helps students build their skillset and expand their portfolios while encouraging healthy studio discussions, peer to peer dialogues and camaraderie across year groups.

In past years, the brief has been set by companies such as Rolls Royce, H&M, Patternbank, Hallmark, St Fagans National Museum of History and Eley Kishimoto. It helps develop a relationship between the University, the students and these partners, with some students, including last year’s graduate Rebecca Davies who got a job at Rolls Royce, being offered employment following the brief.

Mini Moderns 2023 student showing work in live brief surface pattern

Georgia McKie, Programme Manager for Surface Pattern and Textiles at UWTSD, said: “It has been such a pleasure to welcome Mini Moderns back to our programme. We first worked with the brand in 2007, and felt that this academic year was the right time for another collaboration.

“Mark and Keith’s warmth and palpable love of design was infectious, and we revelled in the experience of developing and sharing new work with them. The level of feedback and expertise given to the students was exceptional.

“Facilitating unique opportunities like this is ultimately what enables our students to set themselves apart as graduates. We were able to show the students how important it is to build networks and contacts within the design industry, and how to see every encounter as a potential to learn.” 

Third-year student, Safiyyah Altaf, adds: “I have learnt how industry designs can be meaningful and use personal narratives but can still be accessible to the community. Working with Mini Moderns has helped me understand how important storytelling is within design, how it elevates a work beyond just colour, material and technique, and how we can enhance people’s lives through their connections to our designs.”

Other students mentioned “a huge sense of achievement” when their work was “valued and recognised” by the company, that they are proud of their designs and now feel “more equipped to succeed in the industry”.

The ‘Pattern with a Story’ exhibition at Dynevor Campus can be viewed on weekdays 9:30-16:00 until 24th March. All welcome.

Surface Pattern and Textiles staff with Mini Moderns at 2023 Live Brief

Further Information

Ella Staden

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Press and Media Officer

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Corporate Communications and PR

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