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Sightsavers gets creative at D&AD design festival

April 2018
A view inside Sightsavers' colour room at the D&AD festival. The light in the room is switched to green, revealing an illustration on the wall.

Colour-changing illustrations, a box that alters sound, tools to write in braille: just some of the attractions that Sightsavers showcased at the D&AD design exhibition in London this week.

The annual D&AD festival celebrates the world’s most creative design, advertising and marketing. Held at the Truman Brewery in buzzing Brick Lane, the three-day event features talks from leading designers, artists, agencies and industry pioneers.

There are also exhibitions that showcase innovation and creativity: this year’s festival featured everything from a virtual-reality boxing ring to artistic robots brandishing pens that visitors could control to create a crowd-sourced artwork.

Sightsavers’ stand, nestled in the corner of the first floor, aimed to raise disability awareness and encourage people to think about the world from the viewpoint of people with disabilities. Entitled ‘Perspectives’, it featured a host of interactive exhibits.

A wall of mirrors helped to simulate different eye conditions, from glaucoma to cataracts, while the ‘Sensory Spectacle’ box altered the way sound is perceived, based on descriptions by people with autism. Placing your head inside the box was a disorienting experience: certain sounds were muffled, while others appeared a lot louder, and it was difficult to tell which direction some noises were coming from.

The ‘braille bricks’ proved particularly popular. At first glance they looked like Lego, but the studs on top of each brick spelled out letters in braille.

Visitors were also given the chance to write their name in braille using a special slate and stylus. Trying to read back what had been written was an interesting challenge, and provided an insight into the intricacies of using braille as a way to communicate.

An Ishihara colour blindness test, showing green dots with the number 8 picked out in shaded red dots.

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Sightsavers’ main attraction was the colour room, which featured three panoramic, colour-changing illustrations by Abi Daker, accompanied by emotive audio. As the lights changed, a different layer of the illustration was revealed to tell the story of Sightsavers’ work around the world.

The illustration itself was printed in layers using three colours (red, yellow and blue): when light of a particular colour was shone onto it, it masked some of the colours and accentuated others to hide or reveal parts of the overall image.

The red light revealed a scene from a Bangladeshi hospital, showing Sightsavers’ work to treat cataracts. The green light showed a village in Nigeria, where we distribute medication to protect against neglected tropical diseases, while the blue light revealed a classroom in Senegal, illustrating how we help children with disabilities go to school. See the gallery below for a glimpse inside the colour room.

Feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly positive, with many saying the exhibition had prompted them to think differently about the creative process. The illustrations in the colour room proved particularly interesting for designers who specialised in colour, while the hands-on exhibits drew a steady stream of visitors throughout the event.

Two women embracing and smiling.

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