Collaboration Dyson and Crossmedia Design

Imagine you enter a class with more than 20 students in a competition to develop new branding for a product from the world’s largest provider of home appliances. Then, out of multiple pitches, you win! It happened to Dorsheila Malisama, Tom Sjouw, Floris Gies and Finn van de Putten, all four 2nd year Crossmedia Design students at the AKI ArtEZ Academy for Art & Design in Enschede. The assignment came from Dyson. And no, it wasn’t about a new vacuum cleaner this time…

Proudly sitting side by side, Dorsheila and Finn, looking back on the two intensive weeks in which everything revolved around the Dotplot – a home device that allows women to monitor their breasts – there is only one word that sums up the whole process: fun. “It was cool to be able to work for Dyson, and the four of us had a lot of fun above all,” Dorsheila says. “Fortunately, Dyson gave us all the freedom during the design process, which made it extra interesting.”

Awareness for breast cancer. The Dotplot doesn’t detect breast cancer, but it does detect changes in breast size that you can’t feel as well by hand. So, the product already existed, but it lacked a brand identity. It was up to the Crossmedia Design student teams to wrap their heads around images, packaging, colour palette, communication and social media. Finn: “Breast cancer is a heavy subject, so we quickly chose to keep the branding just colourful and playful.” This immediately makes the subject a lot more accessible; also, for young people, Dorsheila believes: “They don’t give breast cancer much thought anyway. With our design, we also want to create awareness.”

Check em, Dop em. It is the first and only time Dyson has collaborated with an art school from outside the United Kingdom. “This assignment was a good fit for us,” Dorsheila believes. “Crossmedia Design is often a bit rougher with this kind of thing, and I think we step out of our comfort zone a bit quicker than students from the UK or other academies in the Netherlands. Besides, we are also very well guided by our teachers, Carsten Klein and Ina Bode. Look,” she says as she grabs her laptop, “you can see the pink (the colour referring to breast cancer) coming back, but it’s not too overpowering. The tagline is: Dop em, Check em. Chris Roberts did tweak it a bit for the U.K. market. Roberts is the creative director at Dyson and travelled to Enschede, especially for the competition. Dorsheila: “He thought we were in Amsterdam at first, haha.” The four students used the round breast shape for the logo as a starting point. Finn: “The logo is simple, but you can apply it in many ways. The design process went very naturally; there was very little stress.”
“In the beginning, we thought: ooh, is the creative director of Dyson coming to Enschede for us?”

As students, the fact that they were suddenly exposed to the professional field – and then immediately to such a big name as Dyson – was something they especially enjoyed. “This assignment had just enough boundaries to know what to do without losing our creative freedom,” says Finn. Dorsheila adds: “And it’s precisely that free hand that you don’t always find in practice. This was a very corporate assignment, and often those are just very limited.” They had direct contact with Dyson’s creative director, and the two initially found it a tad exciting. “Then you think, he’s coming to Enschede for us. But Chris was very relaxed, you could laugh with him. The pressure of the professional field was relieved a little bit. We didn’t have to present in front of all these men in suits.”

Head full of Dyson. The hardest part of the assignment they found was the time they had to put into it. “I spent two weeks doing nothing but Dyson,” Dorsheila says. “In my head, there was no more room for anything else. When the competition ended, I had to catch up on everything from the past few weeks.” Finn nods. “Indeed, more students suffered from that. But above all, we had a lot of fun and worked together well. It did feel like a bonus that the winning design came from us, while all the concepts looked cool. Everyone approached the assignment differently.”

Autonomous artists. Will Dotplot’s brand identity soon bear the name of the four Crossmedia Design students? Dorsheila: “That is still unclear. The assignment was issued at seven academies, and a winner was rolled out at each academy. It’s also possible they will combine different elements from all the winning designs and create a branding.” Finn adds: “For Dyson, there is also a piece of recruitment behind this assignment. They are already looking at which students they might be able to use on their team later on.” Whether the two see their future there? Finn: “Dyson is very corporate, something neither of us happens to be. It gives job security, and you can find worse employers. Still, I see us more as autonomous artists.”

Dyson was also extremely pleased with the process and the results. They will return next year with a new project.