OCAD University alumnus designs look of Tour de France bikes

Image of Cervelo bicycle
Image of Cervelo bicycle
Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 4:00am

Tom Briggs (BDes, Graphic Design, 2011) is watching his latest design project speed through the twists and turns of the Tour de France. The senior designer for Cervélo, a Toronto-based bicycle manufacturer, Briggs has designed the new paint job for team MTN-Qhubeka – the first African-registered team in the Tour’s history.

The bicycles’ paint job is an eye-catching chrome and yellow, with accent colours of the South African flag: blue, green, yellow, red and black. Briggs says one of the challenges of designing the look was working with the organic shape and design of the Cervélo bikes. “To find a completely flat surface is near impossible, so working with that and understanding the physical limitation of both paint and decal production and application was a tough balancing act.”

Across the top tube of each model are words that translate the Ngoni word Qhubeka: “Move Forward,” “Carry On” and “Progress.” Qhubeka is the World Bicycle Relief’s program in South Africa, which is dedicated to advancing education, health and economic opportunities by providing specially designed, locally assembled bikes to people in need.

Ordinarily, Briggs works out of Cervélo’s head office in Toronto, but he also journeys all over the world filming and art directing. He is currently travelling with the MTN-Qhubeka team on the Tour shooting promotional videos.  

Briggs says at OCAD U he learned to become adaptable and take risks. “I thought I wanted to make magazines and I've done that professionally, but I also feel I can take on things like working with 3D objects in the form of a bike and be successful there. My education gave me the mindset that you can take risks and, as long as you work as hard as you can, you can make whatever you want to make.”


OCAD University designers take home top packaging prize

Photo of competition winners
Image of front and back of cleaner packaging
Monday, June 29, 2015 - 4:00am

Dora Poon (BDes, Industrial Design, 2015) and Zhi Gao (fourth-year Graphic Design student) emerged victorious at the 2015 student design competition organized by the Packaging Consortium (PAC), beating out rivals from Durham, Seneca, Humber, Mohawk and George Brown colleges. This is the second year in a row that an OCAD University team has scored first place.

Professor Stuart Werle offered the contest as a project option for his Packaging Design 2 students in winter 2015. The competition rules stipulated that each team design packaging for a 710 mL bottle of Walmart’s Great Value Eco toilet bowl cleaner. Werle encouraged participating students to demonstrate how their branding and packaging for that product could translate to other items in the Great Value Eco line.

With only one entry permitted for each institution, Werle formed a committee — including Mhairi Robertson, who won the 2014 competition — to select OCAD U’s entry. Members chose Poon’s effort as the top design; however, seeing great strength in Gao’s design, Werle encouraged the two to collaborate.

On June 17, Poon and Gao pitched their work in a seven-minute presentation to more than 200 packaging-industry leaders at the PACEX Toronto packaging show. After all the teams had spoken, the audience voted in real time, with Poon and Gao coming out on top. For Werle, “the key to their design was the blending of very strong branding, packaging graphics and bottle form with truly unique and innovative sustainable elements, including a 5X concentrate EcoPak® that would enable consumers to reuse each bottle without having to recycle them.”

Students chosen as semi-finalists in international design competition

A Hole in the Bucket
Ballet Noir
Friday, May 22, 2015 - 6:30pm

Three OCAD University students have been chosen as semi-finalists in the 2015 Adobe Design Achievement Awards competition.

  • Deshi Deng (Illustration) was selected for her work entitled A Hole in the Bucket. This series of quietly disturbing illustrations depicts several possible disappointing – and unexpected – outcomes of common “bucket list” items.
  • Danjie Jiessie Chen (Graphic Design) was picked for the evocative black-and-white Hometown photos taken on a trip to her own hometown in China.
  • Ashley Lo Russo (Integrated Media) got the nod for Ballet Noir – a short film that traces (partly through stop-motion animation) the bond formed between an animator and her puppet.

These OCAD U projects are up against other semi-finalists from around the globe. Finalists will be decided in September, and the winners will be announced in October. There are many prizes to be won (they vary by category), including cash, registration for and travel to the Adobe MAX convention in Los Angeles, Adobe software and mentorships with creative pros.

Endless Design

Poster with an image of a wooden chair
Friday, February 20, 2015 - 5:00am to Friday, April 10, 2015 - 4:00am

ENDLESS DESIGN is the first group exhibition featuring emerging artists from graphic design courses in Continuing Studies at OCAD University.

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 26, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University Office of Continuing Studies 285 Dundas St. W.
http://ocadu.ca/continuingstudies facebook.com/csocadu twitter.com/csocadu

Parallel Play Music Event

Friday, January 30, 2015 - 11:00pm

Graphic Design Thesis students are having a “pay what you can” event Friday, January 30th at 6:00 pm, proceeds going to Graphic Design’s Graduation Exhibition. Please come join us the Auditorium (RM190). Parallel Play is a music event you won’t soon forget. It will delve into the magical mysteries of music through collaboration, audience participation and of course, PLAY!

Facebook event:

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul Auditorium (Room 190)
Pay what you can

Mhairi Robertson wins Packaging Consortium design competition

Mhairi Robertson’s jive+ winning design.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 4:00am

Earlier this month, fourth-year Graphic Design student Mhairi Robertson was selected as the top designer in the Packaging Consortium, formerly the Packaging Association of Canada, (PAC) student design competition.

The PAC competition challenged design students from Seneca/York, Durham College, Humber College, Mohawk College, George Brown College and OCAD University to create packaging for a hypothetical Berry Blend real fruit smoothie with added protein line of products. Each institution was assigned a different form of packaging, with one leading student submission to be selected to go forward into the competition. OCAD U was assigned to create a foil pouch package form.

With guidance from Associate Professor Stuart Werle, six OCAD U students participated in the project with three presenting final designs earlier in September. A small committee of faculty and students convened to pick the best design to move forward in the challenge, with Robertson’s jive+ design winning out.

“Mhairi understood from the very beginning that her design needed to sit between two different categories, the energy drink category based on the need to be sporty and energetic while appealing to a younger demographic, and the second, the health beverage category that needed to look nutritious, tasty and promoting a healthy lifestyle,” said Werle.

Robertson presented her design at the PAC’s “A Day in the Life” Symposium at the Steam Whistle Brewery on October 1 to an audience of more than 200 conference delegates who voted to make her the top designer via mobile devices.

Anthony Gerace visits a county in decline in Design Observer

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - 4:00am

International Design Observer features a visual essay by Graphic Design alumnus Anthony Gerace (BDes, 2012) this week. “Box Elder” explores a county in decline in northwestern Utah — home of Robert Smithson’s famous land art intervention Spiral Jetty — a place known for its “rugged beauty and for its incongruous histories.”


Sayeda Akbary at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Sayeda Akbary's project, All That's Been Said and Done. Image by Sayeda Akbary.

Sayeda Akbary’s medal award-winning project, All That’s Been Said and Done is a participatory video installation. Here’s how she describes it:

The title of my thesis is All That’s Been Said & Done. The project is a video installation based on the different lifestyles of people in the western society (Us) and people in the third world countries (Them). The installation is a replica of a room, in an Afghani village, with two full wall projections facing each other. The space between the projections forms an extension for the audience to fully participate and share the space of a third world society and its people. As part of the project, I distributed over forty disposable cameras to children around the different villages during my visit and assigned them a task to help us see through their eyes. Throughout this approach, I used graphic design as a creative process to convey a specific message to a targeted audience through visual communication and presentation. By using various methods of combining images, sound, video, typography and page layout, my aim is to produce a balanced and focused installation that visually represents my ideas and messages.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

What inspired me were the experiences I faced when I first visited Afghanistan, after a very long time, in June of 2011. I felt there was a barrier between my extended family and Us because of our social class and standards. Through my approach, I wanted to remove these barriers and help Them share our experiences while we shared theirs. I wanted Them to feel that there is nothing that marks one of us better than the other and there are no barriers that can stop us from living the lives and sharing the experiences of each other.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I learned the most from re-visiting Afghanistan in December of 2012 to gather further research for this project and I would say that was by far the best decision I ever made. This was an opportunity where I got to work in person with the children of my village. I was able to share their space with them and learn from them. I shared my knowledge of the western society with them in return. We soon started to adapt each other’s behaviour and physical language. They soon felt that sharing the “western” experiences made them as good as the “westerners” and that there was nothing left to make one of us better than the other. I learned about these children’s feelings and their future dreams. 

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I am really proud of making the Afghanistan trip happen for this project. I was also extremely happy and satisfied with how my final installation turned out. It served the purpose really well and knowing that the audience fully experienced and understood the atmosphere of the installation was definitely a good feeling.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I was surprised, excited and out of words, but I think I was more happy to know that I had achieved the goal I had set for myself and that was to get my message and ideas across. It has definitely motivated me to continue making important differences in people’s lives. 

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

The past years at OCAD U have been magnificent. As a student monitor, full time staff member and a full time student, I have met so many different amazing students, coworkers and instructors who have challenged me and supported me in every step to pushing my limits. My finest moments are the time and the knowledge I have shared with the OCAD U community. 

What are you planning to do next?

I am currently working on an upcoming exhibition planned for August that will feature my work together with thesis work by my peers. My plan is to do as many exhibitions as possible throughout the next year. I will also be attending OCAD U to complete my minor in INTM. Future plans are to complete a Master’s program.

Find out more about Sayeda Akbary:

LinkedIn Profile


Jutta Treviranus, Director, IDRC, Hon. David D. Onley, Lieutenant Governor, Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD U President.

A major international student design challenge to reimagine the traditional symbol of access launched at OCAD U’s Inclusive Design Research Centre on Friday, September 20 with an announcement by the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and OCAD U’s President, Dr. Sara Diamond. All post-secondary students are invited to enter.

"Today is the beginning of an exciting challenge to modernize the traditional blue wheelchair symbol," said Onley. "Fewer than three percent of people with disabilities use a wheelchair or, as I do, an electric scooter." As a result, the wheelchair symbol reflects only a tiny fraction of the community. "It is neither welcoming nor inclusive," said Onley. "Let's make the stick figure a real person and turn the symbol into a welcome sign."

The International Symbol of Access was introduced 45 years ago. Its original designer was Susanne Koefoed, then a Danish graphic design student who submitted an original design to a competition hosted by the Scandinavian Design Students Organization. Karl Montan, the first director of the Swedish Handicap Insitute and Chair of the RI International Commission for Technical Aids (ICTA) modified Koefoed’s original simple motif of a stick figure using a wheelchair (he added a head to humanize it), and it was endorsed by the World Congress in Dublin. The symbol was then officially recognized by the International Standards Organization and universally adopted by the United Nations. 

Although the symbol is an iconic international standard, much has changed since 1968:

• Less than three per cent of persons with disabilities in Ontario use a wheelchair or electric scooter for mobility purposes

• The reality of disability is now understood to be multifaceted

• The potential for accessibility evolved and encompasses more

• Technology advanced dramatically

The goal of the Reimagining Accessibility Design Challenge is to replace the traditional wheelchair sign, nicknamed "blue wheelie," with a more encompassing and inclusive symbol (or symbols) of accessibility.

"Let's turbo-charge blue wheelie into the 21st century," said Onley, who added a new symbol should let people know that "no matter your access needs you are welcome here."

Competition details

The competition is open from now until October 25. Winners will be announced on November 1 in the presence of Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex, who will be visiting Ontario. The final designs will be presented to the International Standards Organization for consideration. 

A first prize of $5,000 will be awarded, along with two honourable mentions of $2,500 each.

View the contest introduction.

Use #AccessSign on Twitter to share and view designs

Follow LGDavidOnley and OCAD U on Facebook and Twitter for updates


Reimagining Accessibility design team finalists. Photo by Martin Iskandar.
Reimagining Accessibility finalist Daton Hadwen. Photo by Martin Iskandar.
Design concept by Taghreed Al-Zubaidi, Julie Buelow, Yijin Jiang and Arief Yulianto
Design concept by Dalton Hadwen.

The Honourable David C. Onley and Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD U’s President, congratulated Dalton Hadwen and a design team of Taghreed Al-Zubaidi, Julie Buelow, Yijin Jiang and Arief Yulianto as the finalists in OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Research Centre’s (IDRC) major international student design challenge to reimagine the traditional symbol of access. Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex attended the official announcement on November 1.

A blue chip panel of international jurors selected the two finalist concepts from over 100 designs in a blind judging process. Submissions came from across Canada and also from Argentina, China, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Mexico and the UK.

The goal of the Reimagining Accessibility Design Challenge was to create designs to replace the traditional wheelchair sign with a more encompassing and inclusive symbol (or symbols) of accessibility. During the judging process the jurors realized the complexity of the design task to communicate a multi-faceted and nuanced message. Although the panel did not select a winner from the submissions, the two finalists were singled out to merit Honourable Mention. The IDRC will work with the finalists over the winter and spring to refine their submissions.

The reworked designs will be featured at:

  • The International Design Enabling Economic Policies Conference at OCAD U in May, 2014.
  • A consultation on the symbol redesign hosted by Jutta Treviranus, the director of IDRC on behalf of the International Standards Organization in late May, 2014.
  • The International Summit of Accessibility at Carleton University in Ottawa in July, 2014.

Onley commended the work of everyone who entered the competition, describing their contributions as thoughtful, innovative and creative. He also praised the IDRC’s efforts and the success of the challenge overall.

Hon. Onley said he wanted to raise awareness of the fact that, counter-intuitively, the International Symbol of Access is exclusionary because the majority of disabilities are not visible. “Well, we certainly succeeded in raising awareness, if media coverage is any indication," he said. "There was a great deal of public debate and discussion, online and in the mainstream universe, certainly in the Twitterverse engaging people with and without disabilities.”

Dr. Diamond also praised the results of the challenge. “Together we have initiated a process that raised awareness among the broader public and those who participated in the competition itself,” she said. “We hope these design concepts will grow and reach their fullest potential.”

Learn more

Read more about the history of the International Symbol of Access 

OCAD U’s Inclusive Design Research Centre 

Hon. David C. Onley

International Standards Organization