LeafFor our first week back at university we took part in the Social Digital Hackathon – a week long design jam during which we worked in cross-year groups on a live brief from design company Tiger Print.

The groups were big and included a few first years who had no experience of the course – so the tutors explained that the fourth years would be ‘in charge’ of each group for the week. This proved to be the biggest challenge, but also the most rewarding element of the week for me.

We began by thinking about the simple greetings card and what it means. We identified a user group of elderly women who typically shop at Tiger Print and considered the value and thought they put into buying cards and how this is often forgotten when the cards are simply thrown away after a few weeks – especially by the younger generation.

We decided that we wanted to design something that the user would buy instead of a greetings card – something that would serve as a lasting reminder of their relationship together. And so ‘Erba’ was born! Erba cards are flat packed mini plant pots that also come with a tear off voucher to buy a herb from the M&S Herbs range. The herb plants can be collected and stack together on a windowsill showing their personal messages and also some lighthearted puns!


Brainstorming on the first day was hard work – it started off really well with everyone contributing but it soon faded as people became tired and trying to keep up people’s excitement with our chosen direction was difficult. This problem was easily solved, however, by¬†one of our facilitators Finlay Page‘s suggestion that we all stop sitting around the table and stand up. He gave us the challenge to stick as many possible concepts on the wall with sticky notes – and within ten minutes we had an idea that everyone loved!

Giving roles – such as assigning 2nd year product designer Campbell Scanlan as head of prototyping – I found really gave people responsibility for the project. It meant that, rather than drifting around all the different elements of the project, they worked their hardest to do a good job at their small section. This is definitely something I hope we can apply as a fourth year class to bring together our Degree Show


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We presented our final concept on Friday at the Hackathon Presentations. After spending all morning with two of our team members Hady (3rd year) and Victoria (2nd year) teaching them all that I know about giving successful presentations and how to overcome their anxiety, I was so proud that our presentation went extremely well with the audience laughing at Hady’s puns and definitely engaging with our chosen issue.


Image credit to Petr Chutny – http://petrchutny.cz/

We were also very lucky to gain feedback from a member of Tiger Print itself. The main feedback given to our group was admiration for how organised we were. How we were really able to showcase not only our work but how we had planned it and divided up all the roles to play to everyone’s strengths.

11226908_1203193313041175_3042120042987723327_nHaving taken part in quite a few design jams – what I really felt was different about this one was trying to make it about the people in my group – and not the idea. I spent the week ensuring that not only did everyone feel they were valued in the group and were working on something that played to their strengths but that everyone felt ownership of the idea. It was also fantastic to work with the younger years – along with showing me how much I have learnt and developed my design skills since first year, seeing their passion and determination made me think about why I love the subject in the first place.

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