Designathon “deconstructed”

The story of how we joined for the experience & happened to win

Two months ago it took place in Athens a unique competition. Its name Designathon & its goal to gather young graphic designers, with high artistic standards and aesthetics and put them to the test in order to decide who will come out victorious. Something like the Hunger Games. Except there was plenty of food, nobody got killed and unfortunately, Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t there.

But first things first. You may ask who am I.

I am Christos Panagiotou, a 26-year-old graphic designer who works for jetdrops, and alongside my friend and teammate Evros Voskarides, happened to earn the first place on Designathon 2016.

Another question you might have is what is Designathon?

Obviously, it’s a mix of the words Design & marathon. Ιt’s a 48-hour speed design challenge where participants get to form teams, receive a brief and design a full brand identity & website in the course of three days.

This year’s Designathon took place at Found.ation, a modern co-working space that enabled the 33 teams who participated to feel like home, with comforts like individual desks for each team, as well as screens and all the necessary accessories. And while one might think that an open space isn’t optimal for a competition that requires such focus, I have to tell you that the great advantage of working in an open space is the fact that the room is always full of great ideas, inspiration, meaningful conversations and yes, ultimately noise, but that’s an exchange worth making.

So, without further ado, jump in my convenient DeLorean time machine (yes, that’s a Back to the Future reference) and let’s travel back to the first day of the competition together.

Meet Our Client: E100

On that day, we were presented with the brief we had to accomplish. The goal of the brief was to create the brand identity, packaging, and website of the fictional project E100.

Ε100 was a project that aimed to create a Bank which would store ancient seeds. This would contribute to building scientific knowledge on the nutritional quality and habits of antiquity, while it would familiarize the public with the Greek Seed Bank, Greek history & culture.

Of the thousands of seeds that have been discovered in ancient excavations and shipwrecks throughout Greece, 100 species have been selected. These 100 will be revived & distributed in order to create the Greek Seed Bank.

The unique thing about this Bank is that it wouldn’t be created by scientists, but from the people, who would be called to participate & assume the role of the farmer.

First, they would be able to apply on the website in order tο “adopt” a seed. Next, they would receive the seed package and the instructions needed for growing the seed. The third step was cultivation, during which they would regularly inform the Greek Seed Bank about the process. Finally, they would send the new seeds from the now grown plant back to the Greek Seed Bank and like that the process would reach full circle.

Decoding The Brief

In such competitions, the announcement of the brief is always a pivotal moment since you have to really understand it and spend the rest of the evening trying to connect the dots and come up with an idea worth facilitating. At least, this is what we did.

During our brainstorming session and since we first read the brief, we somehow both had the feeling that the design of this concept should revolve around the packaging. So we started with a hypothesis in which the most important part of the branding is the packaging of the seeds. After a bit of research, we came to the conclusion that the recipient, besides the seed should also have the pot, the soil, and the folder, in order to send back to the Bank the new seeds.

Interestingly enough, while we were designing different proposals, we noticed the top view of one of the packages we have drafted and it reminded us of the number 100.

This simple observation made everything click and ultimately became our basis for the rest of the branding & the website.

This discovery was made relatively early in the competition so the biggest thorn on our side was eliminated and we had plenty of time to review, refine our work & prepare our presentation.

And while the time of the presentation was approaching rapidly & we were practicing how we were going to present our work in just 4 minutes, I have to admit that many things were passing through my mind. Is it good enough? Are there going to be better ideas than ours? Are 4 minutes enough?

But I reminded myself that anxiety never helped anyone.

And then I relaxed and I started having more optimistic thoughts.

Like what if we have this?

And yes it’s true that no one should enter into a competition expecting to win, but at some point along the road the thought “Hey, you might win this” is inevitable.

Long story short, in our case this thought became realization and when the time came and the judges called our names we went to the stage and we pulled a Meryl Streep, managing to inspire everyone with our meaningful acceptance speech. YEAH, that didn’t happen. We are designers. Our strength lies in solving problems visually, not in giving speeches.

But we tried, and what we said back then and I will state again now is that we are indeed very thankful for the experience and the acknowledgment.

It meant the world to us.

A reasonable while later and after I have managed to put those 3 days into order in my mind I realized -and I guess it must be a rule or something-, that when you win at such major competitions there is a huge boost in your confidence and that is reflected in the quality of your work.

Personally, since Designathon I face every project like a small individual brief and even when I come across difficulties I keep reminding myself that nothing is impossible, especially after having worked for just 3 days and created something beautiful.

The Moral of This Article

If you ask me whether you should take part in the next Designathon or competitions as such, I will answer you this. We have one life and I believe that you should try everything that life throws at you. But life rarely guides you in what you should or shouldn’t do. This decision lies in your hands and when you make it, you will see, interesting things will begin to happen.

Because ultimately it’s not about winning.

It’s about meeting new people, new mentors, new ideas.

And those are life-changing.

P.S: Since Designathon is a competition about design, you can check out here our vision for E100.


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We are jetdrops, a digital agency specializing in Social Media Analytics. We love working on digital projects and, obviously, killing our side projects! Reach out to us at info@jetdrops.com.