The Sainbury's Design Archive

The Sainsbury Archive is an online repository of the supermarket chain’s history containing everything from photographs to examples of advertising from the company’s 100+ years. Particularly fascinating for designers is the wealth of packaging material on here, with hundreds of examples of Sainsbury’s own brand designs.


What we have here is no less than the story of UK consumer communication, where the timeline interface can be used to discover the changing design trends and impact of new production process right through the 20th century. The work of Peter Dixon’s in-house team is particularly fascinating, each 1000’s of new product packaging was introduced or re-designed, each with their own distinct graphic approach. As well as pictures, much of the packaging is shown as flat artwork proofs which will be of interests to students of 3D design. Aside from packaging, the photographs of store fronts, press and poster ads an even old editions of the Sainbury’s in-house packaging allow from the trace the evolution of how one of the countries biggest retail brands have communicated with it’s audience. This is a fantastic resource for research into any design project.


Half Rice / Half Chips


A HBU-UCLan project.

Last week 16 UCLan students from Animation, Advertising, Graphic Design and Interior Design headed over to China to visit our joint school HBU-UCLan.

This joint project has been running during the years of our partnership, yielding some fascinating creative outcomes to varying briefs. UCLan's 16 students were paired up with nearly 100 of their Chinese peers, and divided up into four separate groups.

The brief was simply titled Half Rice / Half Chips. Creatively open, it required the four groups of students to create a response to the similarities and differences between the cultures of the UK and China. The soul requirement of the brief was to produce a digital presentation, the content of which could be absolutely anything.

After initial meet and greets on the Monday morning, the students set about discussing the many themes that could be explored, but most importantly talking to each other and working out the gaps between their perceived views, and the actual realities of our two cultures. With five days to go from start to finish, there was a requirement to get going, but also a need to figure out what was actually going to happen. The ideas were cemented in place by the Wednesday morning, after which production mode was engaged!


Group 2 (pictured above) were fascinated by the difference in pace of the UK versus China. In China, if something needs doing, it gets done. If something needs building, it'll be built next the time you look. China has the bullet train, the UK has Transpennine Express. On a deeper level, the Chinese students told of their lives growing up. School started before most people have woken up, often not getting home until 10.30pm at night. Each and every hour is precious and the maximum is gleaned from the resource that is time.


Group 2 married the concept of the pace of life and named their project The Speed of Life. Working together creatively, the Chinese students were able to translate The Speed of Life into four Chinese characters.

 the speed of life, in chinese

the speed of life, in chinese

The UK students then saw an opportunity to merge the Chinese characters with the Roman alphabet.

 the speed of life, in english

the speed of life, in english

Before fusing the two pieces of typography together to create one identity.

In China, Piano Tiles has become a super popular game for smartphones. The game was shown to us by Ruby (advertising); as it is played the game gets quicker and quicker - thus harder and harder. It formed a neat metaphor for communicating the pace of life.

With the game in place as inspiration, MA animator extraordinaire Rosie took on the task of creating a demo of The Speed of Life game. In essence, the concept had a UK version of the game which was at a pace you could cope with, and had infinite lives to complete. The Chinese juxtapostion being much more intense, and also the lives tick away as it gets harder and harder.

The students also created advertising concepts, tackling the contrast in pace and cultures, chop sticks juxtaposed with a cucumber sandwich for example. The identity was also applied to various mockups.

This was just one of four projects completed during the week. We will post the others here when we can as some beautiful, witty and thought-provoking work was created.

Big thanks to Guy and Steve for organising a great trip, and our man in China, Nathan, for taking us round.  

Year 2 Graphics - restaurant branding

Year 2 Graphics were briefed to design the branding for a restaurant, café or street food stall. The students were all given different countries to research and find a unique selling point or type of food specific to the country.

As well as an identity and appropriate application of the branding, they also visualized the layout and navigation of a website.


The concept was ‘Slow Food, Fast’ for a French snail café.






A play on words for ‘The Wurst’ German sausage stall.

 brand applications

brand applications




The concept for a Bang’ladesh street food restaurant. This was also changed to Bang’ladash for takeaway food.

 brand applications

brand applications



Stranger & Stranger


Tom Shaughnessy, Design Director at Glorious and also friend of the course has shared with us an agency called Stranger & Stranger. They're an agency who somehow slipped through the net on my radar, but are definitely worth sharing with you. Specialising in packaging and branding they are an agency who create - rather, craft - exceptional and exquisite pieces of design.

Mainly for the alcoholic drinks industry, they design the labels, bottles, packs and everything that falls under their client's brand. It's worth spending some time understanding and appreciating the level of craft and detail through typeface selection, illustration style through the idea and the actual end product itself. They also have an interesting design mantra:


They've also designed and printed a beautiful book featuring a few hundred of the four and half thousand jobs they’ve done over the past 20 years. It is expensive but quite a few blogs give you a sneek peek.

Student nominations for ‘RAF Active’ brief design award

A live brief run by Coley Porter Bell, a top London branding agency visited the graphics course to deliver the ‘RAF Active’ project. The brief was to create an identity and visual language for the new RAF Active campaign and bring it to life through inspiring and exciting applications, eg. social media platforms, posters and apps.

The prize was a placement at CPB and prize money.

Year 2 BA(Hons) Graphic Design students, Lucy Child, Huzaifa Sidat, Brandon Thomas were nominated and went to the London based agency to present their projects.

It was a great opportunity for the students to work on a real life brief and have the experience of visiting a design agency and present their work to industry.

 Lucy Child's entry - EARN YOUR STRIPES

Lucy Child's entry - EARN YOUR STRIPES