London College of Communication graduates embarked upon a unique community design project earlier this autumn – delivering free creative solutions and materials to 25 local Elephant & Castle traders as part of Shop Front.

Supported by funding from Southwark’s High Street Challenge Fund, Shop Front saw 5 LCC graduate designers from a range of courses matched with traders from the Elephant & Castle area – creating new logos, branding, menus, window vinyls and display materials.

Based in LCC Studio in the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, the pop-up studio also offered design advice and guidance to drop-in business clients, including practical tips and a special workshop on how good design can benefit small business led by LCC staff and graduates.

Lauren Vaughan and Henock, manager at Lonnies International Unisex hairdressing. Image: Veronica Otero

Run by LCC’s Business & Innovation team, traders involved ranged from restaurants and hairdressers in Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre to independent businesses in Walworth, and more.

Oscar and Valeria, owners of local trader La Caleñita who were involved in the project, said: “We are immensely grateful to LCC and Southwark Council for this great project they funded for the local community.

“It was a great pleasure to work with the businesses from the local area and complete this project as a graduate of LCC. It was an enjoyable and meaningful experience.” –  Francisco Casaroti, BA (Hons) Graphic & Media Design

“More often than not we don’t have the resources or knowledge to update our advertising or branding – something which is very important for all our businesses. Now we are able to attract more customers.”

The team of LCC graduates were made up of Caley Dewhurt from Postgraduate Certificate in Design for Visual Communication, and Oliver Zandi, Stanislava Stoilova, Francisco Casaroti and Lauren Vaughan from BA (Hons) Graphic & Media Design.

Lonnies signage designed by Lauren Vaughan. Image: Veronica Otero

Lauren Vaughan said: “Being part of this project has definitely given me a chance to connect with locals and their businesses on a personal level as well as developing my professional skills in a challenging and inspiring environment.

“Shop Front has given way for us to work in an innovative context that illustrates the future of design as fluid, versatile and transient.”

Oliver Zandi added: “What I loved most about this project was helping to make design more accessible to local people. It was great to see local businesses using design as a tool to improve their branding.”

LCC Studio. Image: Veronica Otero

The project was delivered by LCC Business & Innovation staff Gill Henderson, Regeneration and Cultural Partnerships Manager, Evi Kontova, Business and Innovation Coordinator and Veronica Otero, Local Design Project Coordinator.

Veronica connected with the local businesses to promote the project, worked to deliver the shop front designs and run the pop up design studio. She said: “Shop Front was a very rewarding and successful project, receiving enthusiastic feedback from traders who commented on the value the design added to their business.

Designer Caley Dewhurst and Andrea, the manager of Andrea’s Hairdressing. Image: Veronica Otero

“The majority of traders found that the new designs helped transform their communication, enabling them to reach new clients and increase their appeal to customers.

“The designers also enjoyed working with small businesses who have been working in Elephant and Castle for many years, as their designs helped them preserve and update their brands for the future.”

Lucy’s sign designed by Francisco Casaroti, in Elephant & Castle shopping centre. Image: Veronica Otero

The 25 selected traders included: Castle Brasserie; The Castle Shop; Miko’s; Games and Gadgets; Lucy’s Hairdressing Salon; Tekkroom; Better Ethnic; Anna Castro; LEA Multiservices Ltd; Laughland Records; Passion Hair; La Caleñita; Magic Carpet; Britain Can Make It; Luzdary’s Nails Salon; Elephant Coffee; Fabian Beauty Stylist; Andrea’s Hairdressing; Medellin Y Su Moda; La Barra; Natural Estetic; Lonnie’s International Unisex; Nicole’s Alterations and Repairs; La Vida Loca; and Sundial Café.

Designer Caley and Jennifer, employer of La Barra restaurant, located in one of the arches at the Eagle’s Yard. Image: Veronica Otero