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Swansea City of Sanctuary

Changing the world for the better in our own little way…

I remember, one time at university, our lecturer dropping quite the thought-provoking a-bomb on all of us by asking, simply, ‘why do you want to be a graphic designer?’

As you can imagine, there was a prolonged silence in the room. It’s incredible to think you’d pay all that money to study such a course yet couldn’t even answer why you wanted to be there. In time a few answered, citing love for design and wanting to do a job they enjoyed, among other suggestions. Generally though most people didn’t seem to know.

When the answers dried up, our lecturer, a stern look across his face, stood up and asked the room ‘what about changing the world?’ Are any of you studying this course to try and change the world, for the better?’

Again, there was silence. Changing the world seemed to be a gung-ho, ‘Miss World’ inspired answer to what we perceived as a more personal question. But since that day, over the last few years I have, amidst improving my skills and maturing as a designer, began to better understand what our lecturer was implying.

Designers do change the world, that’s in concrete. From the industrial revolution to the first print press, Abram Games’ war posters to Steve Jobs and Apple, our evolution as a race would not have taken its current course, if one at all, without those brilliant minds and many others who have helped contribute toward making the world a so-called ‘better place’, even if some have been a little more brash about it than others.

But those examples are of design on the grandest of scales. Our lecturer wasn’t insisting we go out and dedicate our lives to designing something that has impact on a global scale. Sure, that’s a fantastic brief to write for yourself, but completely unachievable for 99.9% of people who’d dare attempt it, as rarely does one person make change on the largest of scales alone, with only a handful, such as Zuckerberg, being impactful enough to make that list.

In time I’ve realised that through design, in our case graphic design, you can make positive change, even if it is initially on the smallest of scales. Collectively, with us all contributing to the design of a whole host of different ideas, materials and movements, we can together change the world for the better. Now, in greater maturity, I understand what our lecturer was talking about.

I appreciate this is all sounding a little ‘inspiring quote on Pinterest’ at the moment, but hear me out. Since the inception of Tiafi Design we’ve had the pleasure of working with some fantastic people, organisations and causes, and our latest project we’ve completed has to sit near, if not at the top of that list.

We were approached in early 2013 by Swansea City of Sanctuary, a charity setup to help ethnic groups settle and find work in Swansea, to design an information pack for newly arrived asylum seekers in the city, which would help them navigate the area and find key services located around the city. More importantly though, the map needed to use as little English as possible, as most asylum seekers speak little or no English upon arrival.

It was an incredibly challenging but highly exciting brief that we’ve been working on for months and, after several trial runs and various feedback from focus groups, the information pack has finally gone to print. Within a couple of months it will be distributed to those who need it most in Swansea.

Now that we’ve had chance to step out of the bubble and assess the project from a distance, it is humbling to think something we have designed will have a direct impact on the lives of a small number of people who come to this country in desperate need of help. This project has been our little way of trying to change the world for the better, even if that change is only for a minute pocket of the population.

Please have a look at our portfolio section for more visuals from the project. We thank the team at Swansea City of Sanctuary for their cooperation, and hope we have the pleasure of working with them and other organisations on similar projects in the future.

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