Showcasing creativity: Rhombus crafts a gallery-esque identity and website for UWE’s graduate show
While navigating post-graduation life is challenging, doing so in the middle of the pandemic took things (the stress, uncertainty, and resilience) to a whole new level. Striving to aid their creative cohort, Bristol’s UWE (the University of the West of England) and design agency Rhombus Studio embarked on a collaborative project to create a digital showcase, providing a platform for their students to share their work when traditional in-person degree shows were not possible.
The project took a tangible turn in 2023, with the physical ‘End of year show’ making a triumphant return. Led by UWE Alumni and Rhombus’ Creative Director James Ratcliffe, Showcase underwent a full design overhaul and rebranding to align with the new expanded offering and central theme of ‘collaboration.’ The website – which continues to play a vital role for emerging creatives, providing a space for graduates to exhibit their work, attract potential employers, and inspire future talent to study at UWE – was also reimagined by the studio, as part of an overarching rebrand. Rhombus expanded the site to house a selection of on-line and off-line content, and now features screenings, collaborations, events, and stories, providing more opportunities for the student community to connect with each other and the wider world, and share their work.
“The original platform Rhombus built in 2020 was branded using the UWE core identity,” Ratcliffe tells us. “After receiving so much positive feedback Rhombus were given the opportunity to create a dedicated brand identity for it, as well redesign the site to tie in with the visual direction.” Drawing inspiration from real-life gallery spaces, the studio delivered a website and brand identity that truly puts the students’ work at the forefront. Taking a ‘white-cube’ approach, which Ratcliffe describes as “the gallery aesthetic, characterised by its square shape and white walls,” the platform was intentionally designed to be light and unobtrusive, allowing the students’ work to shine. The stark monochrome palette provides plenty of contrast, with a white background (across digital and print) acting as a gallery wall for the work on display. “There is nothing to distract you from experiencing the work,” Ratcliffe adds.
The typographic direction maintains the professional look of the brand, thanks to Rhombus’ decision to use the elegant, modern and cutting-edge Suisse font family which, Ratcliffe explains, “felt right for an identity that needed to bridge art and education.” Suisse Works is used for the wordmark for its classical flair and ability to “stand alone as a logo without fancy customisation.” The supporting typeface, Suisse Int’l, was chosen for its versatility and legibility, ensuring a clear hierarchy, and its utilitarian ability to maintain accessibility across the extensive website.
Jade Carr Daley