Meet the winner of the London Design Festival's Emerging Talent award

Published 14th September 2022
24-year-old PhD student Joycelyn Longdon received the 2022 Emerging Talent Medal for her website on climate change and eco-anxiety.
Credit: London Design Festival
Meet the winner of the London Design Festival's Emerging Talent award
Written by Leah Dolan, CNN
Every September, the London Design Festival spotlights a new, up-and-coming name set to make waves in the industry with its Emerging Talent Medal. Previous winners of the design award include trailblazing menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner -- whose work is currently displayed in London's Victoria and Albert Museum -- and color-obsessed artist and designer Yinka Ilori, who designed the stage and trophy for the Brit Awards last year.
This year, the prestigious accolade went to 24-year-old PhD student Joycelyn Longdon -- a self-taught designer studying Artificial Intelligence for Environmental Risk at Cambridge University. Longdon's winning project, Climate In Colour, is a visually arresting educational resource for anyone looking to quieten their eco-anxiety. The website also offers more accessible ways to get involved in the fight against climate change and deepen ones knowledge of the issues, for example a biweekly email newsletter counteracting alarmist headlines by prioritizing good news, a corresponding Instagram page with infographic resources, as well as online courses exploring the relationship between certain environmental issues, such as the global food supply system, and colonialism.
In an email to CNN, curator and London Design Festival jury member Jane Withers noted Longdon's "remarkable achievements in applying her academic and design skills outside of academia, and her promising future at the intersection of climate science and social justice."
What is your design background and your career so far?
I didn't study design but I've always been creative. Whatever I'm doing, I'm doing something creative on the side. I started a studio whilst I was doing my undergraduate degree called "Black on Black" which was a space for amplifying black, brown and marginalized creators. It was visual arts, writing, photography, that kind of space. And that took me to a Somerset House and their bursary program. So working in that space, and kind of deepening my own personal practice, and that was mainly in graphic web design. So basically, I'm just self taught and learning as I go. I work freelance doing design for different brands and charities and organizations. Then when I was accepted into my PhD program, I decided, well, okay, "Black on Black" has kind of come to an end. A PhD is quite a long academic journey, there's no way I can do that without having a creative practice at the same time. So that's why I started Climate In Colour, and looking at the ways to communicate the knowledge that I was learning during my PhD but in a way that was beautiful and design led. Any spare time outside of prepping for my PhD, I spent designing, designing, designing, and putting out the resources and posting on the website.
In what ways can design inform or help conversations around the climate?
If you have a good design that sticks in someone's mind, it provides a reference point. It's much harder to remember facts, and figures. Designers have a really important job of taking really complex ideas and concepts, and presenting that to the public in a way that is not intimidating, but is accessible. And beautiful. The way that we depict and visualize data is really, really important.
How has the response to Climate In Colour been so far?
It was really surprising how fast it grew. I remember my friends forced me to start it. I said, "Well, if I get 500 followers by the time I start my PhD that would be crazy." And that was in April. I think by September when I started studying it was already at 5,000 followers. It just continued to grow and grow. I think that's a testament to design -- that people want to share it and people feel comfortable and confident in sharing it. Making designs that people feel drawn to, and feel inclined to share was how the page grew, and presenting new concepts to people that they hadn't really come across before.
How does it feel to win the Emerging Talent Award?
It feels amazing. I'm so surprised when the email came through. I feel incredibly honored.