A recent collaboration between Johnson & Wales University and Mentor RI has provided a mutually beneficial relationship that rebranded the non-profit organization and gave two students the opportunity to hone their craft.
Kiara Trusty and Sienna Silva, two junior graphic design students at Johnson & Wales, spent the last fall and winter trimesters in the Design Solutions Team, a course that involves pairing design students up with community organizations across the state. Under Deana Marzocchi and Jess Drury, the faculty-driven course provides free design work for 10-15 organizations a trimester, and an authentic learning experience for the students.
“It’s a win-win for both partners,” said Marzocchi.
Mentor RI, an organization that provides motivational and supportive relationships to youth, recently became an affiliate of the national mentoring partnership countrywide last spring. In an effort to align with the brand nationally, they’ve recently re-branded in accordance with the nationwide standards. This involved a new logo, color scheme, and general “look,” which meant having to change their current designs. Marc Mainville, Communications Coordinator at Mentor RI, was able to connect with the Marzocchi to make this happen.
Trusty and Silva were tasked with creating a new brochure for recruiting purposes, one-pagers for easy reading in business recruiting, and a more visually engaging template for the organizations annual report.
The process involved a lot of back-and-forth communication between Trusty, Sienna, and Mainville. They would discuss what sort of necessities were required for the project, create drafts and then Mainville would return with corrections and changes that they could make. Mainville was impressed with their cooperativeness and work ethic.
“They were very good at being customer-focused and helping us get where we wanted to be with the project,” said Mainville. “They were able to come up with design ideas that maintained the standards that were necessary, but still had a level of creativity to them.”
According to Marzocchi, this gave the students the opportunity to meet first-hand with the clients, build their own client brief, hone in on their source skills like listening and note-taking, interpret the clients needs, understand their brand and audience, solve visual problems and work through edits and frustrations.
“This class really pushed them out of their comfort zone,” she said. “By the second trimester, they knew exactly what to do, and were so much more confident. I was really proud to see the transition as time went on…It’s real experiential education.”
At the end of the trimester, the students presented their work to all of the clients that were matched for the course. Trusty and Silva put together a slide deck showcasing their process, changes they made along the way and what they learned through the 11-week course. This involved using “Basecamp,” which is project management software that allows them to document their progress through each of their revisions. Trusty and Silva were proud of the work they had done for the non-profit.
“Our mission was to make the brochure modernized to look cohesive with both the logo and design…It was a real learning experience,” said Trusty. “Marc gave us a lot of room to move around and get as creative as we could…I love the organization and what it’s about. Working with Marc has been amazing.”
Trusty and Silva had to stick to specific typefaces, colors and content that needed to be included. Despite the restrictions, they were able to push the envelope of getting creative with what they were given while “not going too crazy.” According to Silva, taking huge blocks of text and turning them into an easily digestible format was one of the challenges they had to face while making the brochure and one-pagers.
“It was really surreal to think about…because we’re still students. So to think that there’s something out there that we created which people are actually using…that’s really cool,” said Silva.
The Johnson & Wales University Design Solutions Team under Marzocchi and Drury continues to build the creative and professional foundations that provide students the necessary experience for successful internships and careers in their future.
“I’ve learned that communication is the key to every project,” said Trusty.