Tote bags for Clerkenwell Design Week


For this project, we had to come up with a tote bag design for Clerkenwell Design Week, three-day architecture, interior design and creativity festival in the heart of London's architectural district. Our designs had to feature the tagline 'London's creative heart' and the hashtag #YourToteCounts and could only be printed in three colours to match the event's branding. We could use bright pink, a shade of purple or white. The organisers of the event encouraging attendees to bring their own, old tote bags and, and our designs would be screen-printed over the old designs during the event.  

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Unsure what to do for this project I visited Clerkenwell, the area in London where the festival will take place. Taking lots of photos of interesting design features, I started to notice the wide variety of doors and window frames in such a small vicinity. With lots of architectural practices nearby I thought it might be appropriate to focus on decorative features such as window designs. As I continued to walk around, I took lots of photos of windows on different buildings around Clerkenwell Close, a Central point for the festival.  As many of the buildings were constructed at various times over the past 200 years, there was a wide variety of architectural features that I could highlight.

In early tests for the tote design, I experimented with different layouts and compositions. The windows have many intricate details, so I needed to place them large enough to highlight the features yet keep them small enough to make sure the tote didn't feel cluttered and overbearing. Another challenge was that I was only able to use the three brand colours, so finding the windows distinct characteristics and shapes would be vital in ensuring variety. I explored a composition of nine windows but ultimately decided to use a grid of four windows as this had a balanced look to it and allowed the illustrations to show a slightly higher level of detail.

From the photos I previously took of the location, I looked for interesting window shapes that would look good in two colour prints. Digitally, I created illustrations of them simplifying elements to give a clean look that would screenprint well. To use only two colours was challenging as I had to pick out which parts would be used for shadows and which parts would add definition and give a 3-D look to the shapes. After illustrating the windows, I started experimenting with placing text in different parts of the image. I found that it looked best when everything was centred as this had more of a symmetrical look to it.

Looking back on this project, while I was relativley happy with the execution of the outcome I did not particularly enjoy it. It was a short project and the brief was somewhat uninspiring. I much prefer creating experience design or designing something that people interact and engage with, so perhaps if I were to approach this project again, I would look for more exciting ways that I could've approached this brief as opposed to making a set of illustrations. As this was a live brief, all of the designs from my class were given feedback from the from the organisers at Clerkenwell Design Week. Feedback on my design was that they liked the execution of the design and the illustrative style; however, it did not convey the forward-thinking and cutting-edge image that they wanted to appear to be. I found this feedback particularly useful because it taught me that you really have to think about what the organisers want the design to convey and what it represents. Even for tasks like this, it's much deeper than just making something the makes sense and looks nice. When we were briefed there was no mention of this there were very little instructions, so in future projects that may be similar to this, I now need to do a lot more research into the desires of the organisers.