Unit X panel crit at Manchester School of Art

POSTED ON: BY Maria Adamo
mmu unitx exhibition soup kitchen

Last month I was invited to sit on the industry panel for Unit X at my old university, Manchester School of Art. Unit X brings together students from different disciplines to work on live project briefs created by a wide range of partner organisations of the university. I went back to the old stomping ground to take a look at the work produced by the second year Unit X students on my old course, BA (Hons) Graphic Design, & provide a bit of helpful feedback.

The students were asked, in groups of 5-6, to produce a publication in response to a word, phrase or theme, given to them by the course tutors. In addition to this, they also created posters & Kickstarter films to promote their publications, which were exhibited at Soup Kitchen a few days after the panel crit.

I was on a panel with fellow MMU alumni Phoebe Sing, Art Director at Twin Magazine, & we saw around 8 groups that afternoon. The amount of work & effort put into these publications was immediately obvious & very impressive, especially as a handful of the students were from different courses such as Fashion & Illustration. I think everyone can relate to the trials & tribulations of group work at school/college/university, so to see the vast majority of groups display collective passion & enjoyment for the work they had produced was really positive to see.


One of the stand out publications for me was ‘Fluid Magazine’, who wanted to challenge the perception of fetishes. Through suggestive art directed photography & interviews with members of the general public, the group set out to break the taboo surrounding various sexual fetishes. The biggest piece of advice I gave to this group was to have more confidence in the strength of their suggestive photography. I don’t think they realised how clever their art direction actually was & myself & Phoebe urged them to make more use of this throughout the final version of the magazine. At the exhibition evening at Soup Kitchen a few days later it was great to see the Fluid group had taken the feedback on board & made a few tweaks to their final publication & promo poster which really strengthened the overall look & concept.

I have to admit, it was a little surreal being on the other side of the table for the afternoon, as it wasn’t so long ago that I was navigating my own way through the Unit X brief. However, the whole experience was so refreshing & thoroughly enjoyable to see students having fun with such creative freedom. It was great to see the same strong & diverse ideas flowing from the course that equipped me with the invaluable skills to earn a spot in the Design By Day crew a couple of years back.

To check out some of the brilliant work coming out of Manchester School of Art right now, get down to the 2017 Degree Show, open 10th – 21st June.


Maria Adamo