Initiation and inspiration of Grammar and beyond series

A designer who recently learned English with Cambridge University Press products is now responsible to design global marketing campaigns for the same publication.

Cambridge University Press is one of the most noteworthy and prestigious publications in the world, and its academic materials have been utilized by millions of students every year.

One of the key designers responsible for creating strategic and multi-faceted design campaigns for Cambridge University Press is Shahrouz Varshabi. Shahrouz is based in New York City and works with Cambridge out of their SoHo office. However, the story that Shahrouz told us about his job is one that will inspire all designers, or anyone looking for a life change.

Shahrouz, originally from Tehran, Iran, came to the United States four years ago to pursue his master’s degree in Design and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design, New York City. In order to gain acceptance to Parsons (recently ranked the leading design school in the U.S.), Shahrouz needed to pass his TOEFL exam. Since English was his weakness, the TOEFL exam proved to be a big challenge for him, and a potential obstacle to his graduate school acceptance. “My English was so bad that when I learned the difference between ‘am’, ‘is’, and ‘are’, I gave myself a three-day vacation due to such an achievement.”

Shahrouz’s story began when he decided to learn English in six months. Between his English classes and English tutors, he was advised to practice with Interchange books, which are two of the most influential English products from Cambridge University Press. He worked intensely with those specific books for six months. Subsequently, Shahrouz acquired his TOEFL certification, and ultimately achieved his acceptance to Parsons.

Following his Masters degree, Shahrouz entered as a senior designer at Cambridge University Press, where he is currently designing strategic, multi-faceted campaigns for international products. “I had no idea that one day I would be a designer for the same organization where I learned English..”

One of his most recent, well-conceptualized and globally published projects is from the series entitled Grammar and Beyond.“I was asked to visualize grammar on four levels and I gave them four origami balls with different structures.”

Shahrouz actually connected the complexity and structure of grammar to the complexity and structure of origami balls, he called it: “Simple-Yet Complex”. Shahrouz states that

behind the complex structure of origami balls, there is a unique pattern that is created through folded papers.We have the same structure and process with grammar, which hides behind each sentence. There is a group of words that must come together with a specific structure in order to have meaning. This could be applied to a very nice visual campaign. Additionally, origami balls have different structures and patterns — like grammar — where we could create a “four-specific” structure to connect them on four different levels.

By representing various levels of complexity via a design-oriented approach — one in which conveys the grammar’s own simplicity — Shahrouz illuminates a new way in which to learn English grammar. This is perhaps a way that can take you from Tehran to New York City, or wherever you chose to go.

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