BriefingAn ‘eye-opener’. That’s how a 22-year graphic design student described her experience working with Baddeley Brothers in May, after winning this year’s im-print! im-press! in collaboration with GF Smith and Foilco.

Nhelete Dos Santos came to the UK from Mozambique two years ago to study at Ravensbourne University. This means just before lockdown, so until recently has spent most of her time studying at home.

However, briefing for the project coincided with students being allowed back in the autumn. And this gave her a chance to attend college to discuss and sample test her ideas.

Now in its fifth year, one student is selected to take part in a collaborative project between the university’s graphic design department and the three companies, producing an item with paper from GF Smith, foil from Foilco, then production by Baddeley Brothers at their printworks in East London.

The brief this year focused on Sustainable​ (Typo)graphic Paper matter​. Taking its lead from renewables, paper from recycled coffee cups and​ Zero Foil 2 Landfill.

Printing process

Foiling the envelopeNhelete said: “Baddeley Brothers were really helpful and informative. I learned more about the printing process than I ever thought I would.

“It really opened my eyes to the beauty of paper and all the things you can do with it.

“It’s such a long process and it’s really hard work. Working with Baddeley Brothers was an eye-opener. I feel really lucky that I was able to do it.”

More than 30 students from the Graphic Design, Product Design and Fashion 2nd year cohort competed to cost, design, and spec a piece of printed work. It combines the creativity of design input, the exploration of the medium of paper and the subtle beauty of foiling and embossing. All within the commercial constraints of a budget.

And whilst submitted designs included a lightbox, rolling beads and others, it was Nhelete’s thought-provoking and motivational envelope concept which caught the judges’ eyes.

Nhelete said: “I like communication. I like to create things.”

Good causes

bb nelly 8097She aspires to work for good causes and has already done writing work for NGOs. She wanted to balance what she could do creatively and mix the two together.

“My first idea was an installation that projected a pattern cut through the paper on a wall or material. The idea used the concept of community. But in the briefing process, I was told it wouldn’t work due to machine constraints. So, I had to go back to the drawing board. That obstacle inspired my final outcome.

“It’s funny how in the creative process, it can take ages to think of something and it just clicks.

“I think if you have an obstacle to overcome you create something better than you expected.”

Nhelete described the organic process of coming up with a design.

“Sometimes you look at a piece of paper and I think all you can do is write on it, maybe cut it up into a few shapes.

“What inspired me was the versatility of paper and that was really interesting.

“A lot of the time we’re glued to our screens so, I thought it would be a good idea to use what’s part of my body to see what I can create.

Life cycle

bb nelly 8130

“Finally, I was inspired by the word “cycle” and its relationship with the production of the Extract paper. I wanted to create something that would bring the paper back into our community. My final design reflects how we are all interconnected and part of life’s cycle.”

The finished product is an envelope, which uses cuts and flaps to stay closed, no glue, and completely reverses from inside out to outside in. Open each flap and it reveals a thought-provoking message and inspirational text.

“There’s no ‘open or closed’, no right or wrong way to use it. It’s a game for you to play with the ball is in your court, I think what’s nice about the envelope you’re not stuck to one option.

The foiling shows natural shapes and is inspired by nature’s curves, design and patterns.”

Nhelete described the overlapping circles as reflective of the blending of GF Smith Extract Khaki paper and Foilco Gold 6220, intertwining with each other to make one seamless piece.

She added that seeing the product come to life in Baddeley Brothers’ printworks was an unforgettable experience.

“At university, we have a small digital foiling machine, it doesn’t come out as nicely. I cut it into shape with a ruler and scalpel and I didn’t have access to nice paper or card, just flimsy paper from the printer.

“I didn’t realise how nice the final commercial result was going to be, it was really beautiful actually.”



See the envelope unfold…