Sound Studies Institute relaunches with new student-designed website

BDes student Mikaela Yeo brings a fresh take on SSI’s innovation and creativity.

Erik Einsiedel - 02 September 2021

The Sound Studies Institute (SSI) recently received a makeover by challenging an Art & Design class with their complete visual rebranding.

One of the most unique interdisciplinary research units at the University of Alberta, the SSI incorporates disciplines from both arts and sciences in the study of sounds, how they are generated, and how humans use them to make sense of the world.

The challenge of how to visually represent those concepts was presented to an undergraduate Art & Design class (led by Sue Colberg) as a real world branding exercise. Each student provided their own unique interpretation, but it was Mikael’s concepts that the SSI chose to adopt, having recently relaunched their website with Mikaela’s designs.

As she finishes her final semester of her Bachelor of Design degree, we caught up with Mikaela to learn about her creative process behind the SSI rebranding.

How did you come up with the concept?

Scott Smallwood, the director of the SSI, was really keen on having the website (as well as their whole visual identity) redesigned, as they wanted SSI to have a mark of professionality and “welcomeness” to the viewers. He wanted a website that reflects their innovation and creativity, and with all that in mind, I started designing.

I focus on clean forms, efficient spacing, and minimal layouts. I also added pops of color here and there to add visual interest, and to emphasize certain areas.

What was it like working with SSI?

It was truly a rewarding time working with Scott and his team on this website. He provided me with context about his work and SSI's vision, which ultimately aided in solidifying the final design. Overall, it was a fantastic experience working with SSI, especially since this project is my first professional work as a designer. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.

What does it mean to you to have your design selected for the SSI?

Upon hearing the news that my design was chosen out of all my peers (all of whom had amazing work), I was very humbled and overjoyed. That news gave me confidence as an upcoming junior designer confidence that my work can successfully reflect the client's goals, needs, and wants.

For more information about the Sound Studies Institute, visit their new site at: