How Documentation Can Highlight A Design's Value: Insights from SoGood Design Award-Winner Paul Twa Provisional RGD

Paul Twa Provisional RGD was a winner of a 2018 RGD So(cial) Good Design Award as a Student RGD. Paul reflects on his experience entering the Awards and the importance of design for social good. 


The RGD's 2022 SoGood Design Award-winners have been announced!


Explain your winning project briefly. Given a chance, how differently would you do it today?

My project, ‘Give Your Food a Second Life’, was completed in design school as a composting awareness campaign for a real-world client, Chestermere Utilities Incorporated (CUI). CUI was dealing with frustrated citizens who were not clear on the waste collection program and its changing guidelines. The campaign I created communicated the changes in garbage collection services and the need to compost organic waste instead of including it with the rest of a household’s garbage. In retrospect, I see how this communication challenge for Chestermere, a city on the outskirts of Calgary, anticipated similar challenges for larger municipal waste collection programs in the province. A few years after this project I worked on Edmonton’s own waste cart rollout program.

2018 SoGood Award Winner / Student Project: Give Your Food a Second Life: Composting Awareness Campaign by Paul Twa Provisional RGD.

If I were to execute the project now, I would love to expand the campaign to include organic waste beyond fruits and vegetable scraps. What would angel wings look like made out of eggshells, paper towels, dryer lint and other less conventional compostable items? There was a sorting guide component to the campaign which I realize now was the most important communication piece for residents to understand the program. Including visuals to easily reference what goes where helps people learn the system and begin to rethink how they sort waste to be more sustainable. In fact, these communication mailers are something many of us use frequently today, and therefore should be designed for easy reference.


From your experience, what is your advice for anyone considering entering the 2022 SoGood Design Awards?

It is always beneficial to submit projects which have a lot of documented research, process and recorded outcomes to look back on. This helps when writing the required supporting materials which require an explanation of the challenges, problem analysis and project goals. The process of submitting projects to the SoGood Awards is a good reminder to document and record more about how we arrive at design solutions based on the challenges presented to us.


In your opinion, what is the best way for designers to communicate the value of design to non-designers?


I think so much of design’s value comes out when we make a point to document for our clients the journey we took to arrive at our final solution. Sometimes the end product can be presented in a way that seems as if it materialized out of thin air without much explanation of all the factors that impacted its creation. Bringing the client in to see this development can be the ticket to communicating the design’s value. When non-designers see all the avenues designers explore that are not quite right, they begin to buy into why the presented solution is the best option. While there are many ways to design, and infinite possibilities for what a project could look like, inviting the client into why something looks the way it does can remove some degree of subjectivity.

What responsibilities do designers have to make a positive impact on our world and communities?

The degree of responsibility we as designers have to our communities certainly took me some time to practically understand. Once we recognize how design shapes the visual culture of our city we begin to feel more invested in how the choices we make can contribute to that culture. Design is a fundamental line of communication through which the government communicates with its citizens and we have a responsibility to use clear visual communication that is understandable to a range of audiences. The ethical considerations on agency and studio owners’ shoulders to make sure the team can stand behind the work they do is essential to unpack. As a team member, I remember being brought into open discussions with coworkers about whether or not to take on a particular project with sensitive subject matter. Having these conversations at workplaces where employees can come together to make these decisions helps the entire team feel more invested in the work and able to determine what we collectively put our efforts towards.


Show us a project you are working on or recently completed that you are excited about/proud of and be considering entering into the Awards this year.



One recent project I contributed to with the team at Sticks & Stones was a not-for-profit campaign for the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. The ‘Tomorrow & Today’ campaign we developed advocates for a stand alone children’s hospital for Northern Alberta. The Stollery Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital of its size in North America that is squeezed into an adult healthcare facility and the challenges it was facing needed to be communicated to the public. The approach required depicting both specific and broad visual concepts and communicating an optimistic vision while describing these serious challenges with sensitivity. The identity system visualizes the journey of the Stollery's past, present and future. This journey may be full of ups and downs, twists and turns, but the outcome is for every child in Alberta to have a better tomorrow, starting with the things we build today.


Paul Twa Provisional RGD is a graphic designer, illustrator, and lettering artist based in Toronto. Born and raised in Edmonton, Paul graduated from the University of Alberta's Bachelor of Design program, Business/Marketing route. His work has been recognized nationally by the Graphic Designers of Canada, the Association of Registered Graphic Designers, and Applied Arts. With a keen interest in history, Paul enjoys studying the visual culture of the past as a way to inform the work he is making today; blending the magic of maximalism with research and intention. His annual ‘Year in Review’ project documents the memorable events of each year through illustration in a variety of historical styles and has been highlighted by the CBC and CTV.