Berlitz Guides, Kingston University and the 'Language of Travel'

Winner of the Berlitz / Kingston University challenge, (photo by Chungwoon Choi)
Winner of the Berlitz / Kingston University challenge


Here at Insight Guides we work hand-in-hand with our sister imprint, Berlitz Publishing, who produce Berlitz Pocket Travel Guides and Phrasebooks. Last summer Berlitz laid down the gauntlet to students on the Illustration & Animation BA at Kingston University in London. They were challenged to focus on 'The Language of Travel’ – and not only would each student's work count towards their degree, but Berlitz also offered a cash prize of £1,000 plus a two-week internship for the winner.

Mina Patria, then publishing director of Berlitz Publishing, chose Kingston University because its Illustration & Animation course is one of the most respected in the UK, with students regularly winning international awards. She was excited at working with some of the country’s most compelling up-and-coming visual communicators. The three-year course is distinctive because it combines illustration with animation, underpinning both areas with intensive drawing assignments.

The Brief

The students competing were invited to create a new type of combined travel guide and phrasebook for the well-known brand. Kate Drynan of Berlitz Publishing commented, “We made it clear to students that, although it was important to retain the essence of the Berlitz brand, we would be receptive to innovative concepts on how to present content. So, based on their own travel experiences, we asked them to devise the ideal guide that would be fun, accessible, engaging and informative for their own age group.  Fortunately, we could be flexible on format whether an interactive product, a moving image, ebook or app.”

Within the brief, students were told that the final product should contain all the user’s needs, whether it be relevant phrases or information on how to get to the destination and move around within it. They were advised to think carefully about the identity of a place and how to communicate it, using local signage, letterforms, buildings or structures.   

During the process, Berlitz looked at the students’ initial concepts before giving them feedback on how to turn them into serious commercial products. After a shortlist of five potential winners was selected, the students took the advice on board, and duly developed their concepts.  They then returned to Berlitz’s offices at London Bridge where they presented to a 10-strong panel, representing all departments at Berlitz Publishing, from editorial through to publicity.

Mina Patria, former publishing director of Berlitz Publishing, said, “We were particularly impressed by the quality of the students’ work and were delighted by how well they had taken on board our feedback. Picking a winner was not easy. There was great merit and quality in each of the projects, but after a lengthy debate, we chose Chungwoon.”

The Winners

The winning concept, created by Chungwoon Choi, was a fun, interactive travel-and-language guide including some excellent animation of essential Thai phrases, local street scenes and a personal picture album function. It was sufficiently flexible to be used online or as an app.  The four highly commendable runners-up and their concepts were:

Luke Overin - A guide using collectable drinks-mat postcards including three that focused on food and language, and a further three with cultural content. 

Ellie Gay – An Istanbul pocket guide with perforations for tearing out selected sections such as a post card.  It incorporated a map and pockets to customise key activities of interest. 

Brad Ellen – A stylish app for London with subtle animation, key icons and concise information. 

Roberta Longoni - ‘When in Rome’, a local’s guide to the city including phrases, customs and key places.

A selection of their work appears below.

The Kingston University Illustration & Animation Degree Show 2012 will be open to the public between 3–7 July at Rochelle School & Club Row, Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES.  The catalogue (£6) contains a selection of work from each of the students, as well as a DVD with a showreel of their animation and film work.  Click here for more infornation about Rare – the 2012 graduates.