The Ministry of Wonderful

This is Jordan – winner of our Ministry of Wonderful brief, which we set this year for design students at Leeds College of Art.

The brief was built around the idea of how we can make brands wonderful experiences.

We wanted students to explore how branding should be something that runs much deeper than a badge sticking exercise. We encouraged them to think about how design could really help inform what a product or service should be. How should it behave? What did it actually do that was different? Why should people care about it? How should it make you feel? Above all – give brands a purpose beyond trying to just sell more stuff. We wanted them to think about the amazing things design can do by changing the way people see and interact with the world.

Each student was randomly assigned a different subject area, ranging from libraries and retirement homes, to recycling programmes, city councils and water providers. We chose these areas as we felt they came with very set preconceptions around how people expected them to work and behave – making them good opportunities for new ideas and ways of doing things differently.

At the same time, we wanted to force students to work on something that they wouldn’t naturally gravitate to. Not interested in your water supplier? Why shouldn’t you be? If the subject area didn’t feel interesting, it was because no one had found a way to make it interesting to them yet. If they could rethink the experience and look at it differently, maybe it could make a difference in ways they didn’t expect.

It was great to see students approach things in such a variety of interesting ways; from train experiences redesigned around commuters to councils as more simplified hubs of curated information and an unusual take on retirement homes with an emphasis on providing the inhabitants with a dating service.

Jordan was tasked with rethinking libraries. His approach was to see them as ‘Words of Wisdom’ – inspirational places where words could delight and inform. No longer tombs of dust gathering shelves, but flexible pop-ups that took up vacant retail spaces in city centres. We really liked it for feeling the opposite to how you’d expect a library to be (but maybe exactly how it should be), loud, noisy and exciting. We liked Jordan’s vision of turning it into “a hub for social interaction, information exchange and cultural events that bring communities and people closer together” – not just somewhere that has books. This is a place that opens up knowledge in a way which feels interesting and wondrous – somewhere you actually might want to wander in to.

Jordan was the proud recipient of a coveted Ministry of Wonderful issued sash and sceptre, a Terry’s Chocolate Orange and the slightly pioneering task of being our first ever placement over the past couple of weeks.

You can check out the rest of Jordan’s work here.