Graphic communication students at CSM have come together to create a cookbook

Led by inter-disciplinary designer Giulia Dusault, the book uses mix-and-match spreads to represent the individuality of each contributor and their chosen recipe.

28 March 2024

University can often be the first time a young person has ever spent any extended time away from home, and often, feelings of homesickness are not only induced by missing family, but home cooked meals too. While the main narrative tends to be the idea that all students are living off pot noodles, tins of beans and whatever leftovers they might find in the shared fridge, uni can also be a time of culinary experimentation, learning your way around a kitchen for the first time, making your favourite family recipes for new friends huddled around a flimsy table, and receiving theirs in return too. This sentiment sits at the heart of Giulia Dusault’s charming cookbook The GCD Kitchen, a collection of favourite recipes from her fellow graphic communication design students at Central Saint Martins.

Giulia is an interdisciplinary designer from the Netherlands who was born in Italy, and has spent her entire life living abroad, in China, Switzerland and now the UK. This exposure to different countries and lifestyles has given her a passion for storytelling and creating work that “celebrates culture, identity and human experiences”. From the get-go she knew she wanted her food-loving community of students to have as much involvement as possible. “I thought asking the GCD community to share their favourite recipes and what they mean to them would not only celebrate the different cultures and nationalities within our course, but also bring the community together in a new light,” says Giulia. Throughout the book you encounter a whole range of recipes, spanning Jamaican shrimp curry, paneer wrap and chips, spiced apple blondies, and seaweed egg soup.


Giulia Dusault: The GCD Kitchen (Copyright © Giulia Dusault, 2024)

To kick the project off, Giulia organised some workshops with her peers, asking questions like what food means for them, if they enjoy more visual or literary cookbooks, and if they have a family recipe that brings them joy. Then, she sent a form for recipes to be formally submitted, alongside each participant’s thoughts, feelings and memories surrounding food to be included on the pages. This helped Giulia understand what recipes might be featured in the book, but also helped her decide on a format and approach.

To complement and balance the wordy aspects of the cookbook, Giulia drew a series of illustrations that featured key ingredients from the recipe and took photos of each participant, as well as some of the eating culture across CSM. The illustrations were inspired by the freelance illustrator Maisy Summer, specifically her foodie illustrations for MetMUnch, a food sustainable enterprise run by students at Manchester Metropolitan university. Like Maisy’s work, Giulia’s illustrations have a sketchy warmth to them, highlighting the charming lumps and bumps of vegetables, and the colourful range of labels and packets. Giulia took the photos on her Miolota xg-1 film camera, chosen for the softness of the images and colours it produces, and how well this harmonises with the illustration style.

GalleryGiulia Dusault: The GCD Kitchen (Copyright © Giulia Dusault, 2024)

When it came to the layout, Giulia initially had each of the spreads following the same format, but she soon realised it felt a little “boring”. Instead, to ensure the spreads reflected each individual, she asked them to choose their own colour scheme, as well as a few images they wanted to include as insert pages, of their family, or of the finished meal. When even naturally compiling all of the recipes together, Giulia also realised that it felt a little “overwhelming”, so, like all good cookbooks, she decided to include a descriptive contents page, divided into four mood-based sections: Feeling inspired?, Need something comforting?, Feeling Stressed?, and Feeling Happy?. “For example, if someone is feeling stressed, they would go to this section to find a recipe that’s quick but still very nutritious and filling,” says Giulia.

Upon filing the recipes, Giulia realised how many were connected to family, and had been passed down by loved ones. Like Sashka’s recipe for Sarma, a stuffed cabbage dish passed down from her grandmother Nana who showed her how to make it before she left Bosnia, or Jacob’s “exciting” yet “affordable” pelau recipe, often made by his father. These recipes, alongside the input from contributors and non traditional format, are what gives The GCD Kitchen such a personal touch. She hopes it might inspire other young designers to experiment with the cookbook form in a way that feels unique to them, maybe even getting their friends and family involved along the way.

GalleryGiulia Dusault: The GCD Kitchen (Copyright © Giulia Dusault, 2024)

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Guilia Desault: The GCD Kitchen (Copyright © Guilia Desault, 2024)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English Literature and History, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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