Students use talents to design for good

Alyssa Flynn

Most group projects are simple presentations done for class, but that was not the case for graduate students whose projects benefitted people in Cleveland and Africa.

The graduate students will display their work at Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative in Cleveland at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

One group designed to raise awareness about malaria. Andrew Schwanbeck, graduate student in the visual communication design program, said designs were made to help Africans recognize the symptoms of malaria.

“One of the biggest things for us to learn was visual literacy, or the lack there of. They didn’t come off too successful,” Schwanbeck said, talking about the prototypes of the group design. “It was more about simplifying them, making them more appropriate for the amount of visual literacy that the targeted audience had.”

With the help of Justin Ahrens, creative director of graphic design company Rule 29, the students were able to put their work to the test by taking it to Africa.

Ahrens will also serve as the keynote speaker at the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, and he will discuss his African-based work with Life in Abundance, a community development organization based in faith, according to a press release.

Adina Feigenbaum, another graduate student working on the malaria project, said she learned a lot about the culture and area.

“It was really interesting to design for another culture,” Feigenbaum said.

Larrie King and Todd Wendorff, both graduate students in visual communication design, are two of four group members who worked on designs for Neighborhood Family Practice, a community health center in Cleveland.

King said Sanda Katila, an associate professor in visual communication design, helped by setting up benchmarks to make sure that the group was on track.

“We were always able to go to her with questions and concerns,” King said. “She kept us reaching for the best we can do with this client”

Todd Wendorff said the group came up with a six-month plan to help the NFP once their work was done.

Members of AIGA, the professional association for design, can attend the event for $10 and student members can attend for free. Nonmembers will be charged $15, and student nonmembers will be charged $5.

Contact Alyssa Flynn at [email protected].