All Blog Posts

The Winning Formula: Furman University’s Sleep When You’re Dead 24-Hour Design Challenge

Last updated March 13, 2024

By Robert Mullikin

Imagine diving headfirst into a whirlwind of creativity, sleep deprivation, and pure adrenaline—that’s the essence of Furman University’s 24-Hour Sleep When You’re Dead Challenge. This year it showcased the creative talent of Michael Kline, Ashlyn Horton, Ellie Morse, and Savannah Turner. Michael and Ashlyn, both Master of Arts in Strategic Design students, were featured on the Go Further podcast to talk about their victorious experience. Their journey from ideation to execution offers valuable insights into teamwork, innovation, and perseverance.

For Michael, this challenge marked a shot at redemption. Having participated the year before without reaching the win, he reflectively analyzed past mistakes and resolved to chart a more focused course this time around. Central to his strategy was the recognition that clarity of a developed idea and target audience selection were essential ingredients to winning.

Three members of the winning 2024 Sleep When You’re Dead Design Challenge team displaying their original product.

Meanwhile, for Ashlyn, a first-year participant, the challenge presented an opportunity to dive headfirst into the creative process. While nerves fluttered around public speaking, her enthusiasm for ideation and execution outweighed any hesitation. 

Tasked with branding a product from a diverse mix including shoelaces, canned meat, personal care items, cat litter, and non-alcoholic beverages, Michael and Ashlyn’s team embarked on an unexpected journey with canned sardines. Embracing the irony of luxury canned meat, they aptly named their brand “Shoal,” symbolizing a group of fish swimming together. And to go along with this, their mission statement was, “Sustaining the seas to bring people together.”

Collaboration was key as tasks were divided amongst team members, each contributing to different facets of the project. After the moodboard was created, Michael took charge of typography, Ashlyn alongside Ellie delved into illustrations, while Savannah crafted the web design. Despite their varied roles, open communication and shared responsibility promoted a harmonious workflow. 

Leadership, too, found its balance. Michael, the seasoned second-year student, provided structure and deadlines while ensuring decisions remained collective. The absence of conflicts emphasized their commitment to a shared vision.

Confidence increased as positive feedback was given, strengthening the team’s belief in their project. Presentation time saw them effortlessly articulating the nuances of their creation, a testament to their dedication and understanding of the product.Shoal - The winning 2024 Sleep When You're Dead Design Challenge creation.

Outside mentors offered guidance, with valuable suggestions like incorporating reusable packaging and recipes inside of the packaging. While supportive, the team relied primarily on their collective efforts and creative processes.

The grueling 24-hour time frame saw sleep deprivation for most, yet the experience left a lasting impression. Ashlyn, unphased by exhaustion, expressed eagerness for a repeat, with hopes for another great experience in next year’s Sleep When You’re Dead 24-Hour Design Challenge.

Furman University’s design challenge not only celebrates innovation but also highlights the power of collaboration and perseverance. As the winning team’s triumph demonstrates success, the challenge is not just about winning but about growth and discovery along the way.

If the Sleep When You’re Dead 24-Hour Design Challenge grabbed your attention, listen to the full episode of “2024 Sleep When You’re Dead – 24-Hour Design Challenge” to learn more about Michael and Ashlyn’s journey throughout the exciting annual event. You can also take your first steps toward your creative dream career by clicking HERE to apply for Furman University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Design program.