Underrepresented students from London and Chicago collaborate in creative exchange

Students from London and Chicago join hands for a group cheer

Article by: David Millett

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A cultural exchange project between Ravensbourne and Chicago students, which saw them create a limited-edition product for a globally recognised brand, has been celebrated with an exclusive film screening.

The students teamed up to create and brand a limited-edition product launch for KitKat, which they presented to company executives. Their work has now been produced as a special 'Break Thru' edition of the famous treat.

The project is the latest in our ongoing collaboration with brand agency Vault49 and the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK), which provides international creative and cultural exchange, mentoring from professionals, and enables opportunities for young people.

Most of the students selected for the programme were the first in their families to attend university, identify as an ethnic minority, or came from a low-income household.

The unique opportunity has a strong focus on how students can tap into culture and bring that into design.



Alongside the design work, a short film documenting the exchange was premiered at an exclusive viewing at Ravensbourne University London on Wednesday 8 November, along with a drinks reception and Q&A with the students.

It comes off the back of the major success of last year’s project, which saw the students create jerseys for Nike Jordan. The short film documenting their journey has been nominated for two regional Emmy awards.

The students in this year’s exchange, Selma Messaoudi, Dominic Ofoedu, Harriet Power, and Lewis Wint, are studying on our BA (Hons) Advertising and Brand Design and BA (Hons) Digital Film Production courses.

Along with students from My Brother’s Keeper in Chicago, they were tasked with creating a limited-edition product launch for one of the world’s biggest confectionary brands – the KitKat.


KitKat limited edition designed by Ravensbourne and My Brother's Keeper students


They spent the first week meeting face-to-face first in Chicago and another week in London, before delivering a final pitch presentation to a panel from KitKat. During the intense two-week sprint, they gained precious experience on how the industry works, working in real conditions, and understanding what kind of impact their work can have.

They had to consider the brand’s values, while linking in their own personal experiences. Collaborating with the students from across the world they had just met, they dived into London’s and Chicago’s cultures and pulled the project together in a two-week sprint.

In their final ‘Break Thru’ design, an ingenious riff on the brand’s famous ‘have a break’ slogan, the students took particular inspiration from Chicago and London street art, as well as other significant cultural and moods they gleaned during their experience.


Students from London and Chicago all stand and smile together


Lawrence Lartey, Director of Innovation, Industry and Enterprise at Ravensbourne, was instrumental in bringing the project to life. He said: “I have worked with the Obama Foundation for over seven years now; the partnership provides our students with fantastic opportunities to travel, experience different cultures and learn from one another.

“I feel continually inspired by the students involved, and by the incredible work they are able to create together.”

Simon Robertshaw, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Ravensbourne, said: “Collaborative programmes like this give students from underrepresented and marginalised areas the opportunity to explore a world beyond the confines of their own cities, and the impact of this can be profound.

“We are immensely proud of our ongoing partnership with Vault49 and MBK, and of the incredible work the students are able to create.”


Chicago X London Creative Exchange video