KALINA SURMA MACD FALMOUTH
Design Research Journal
The Intersections Brief
The new MACD102 brief is a complete 180 degree shift from Process, with little focus on ourselves as practitioners and more on the 'wicked problems' of the outside world.
Wicked Problem - Policy Concept
a wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.
Some of the wicked problems that I am considering examining surround waste and mental health, perhaps even something that could sit between the two, as I believe our relationship with ourselves and our surroundings is intrinically connected.
By the end of the first week, I have decided to focus on an area that I have direct insight into. This is because working with Wanda throughout the workshop allowed us to really enrich the applicability of our solution, revealing to me that first-hand experience or access to someone with first-hand experience is essential. Therefore, I have narrowwed my area of focus to something relating to my part time job as a chartiy shop assistant. I think personal insight will also help to fuel my motivation and passion for the project, as any solution I find could be something I can contribute to actually implementing.
Workshop with Jazzy Olive
The service design module was one that I thought I would especially struggle with, particularly because on a visual level it doesn’t seem to offer very exciting outcomes. Whilst the visual element may come second to its function, Jazzy’s workshop really reframed the biases I had going into the process, of service design being a ‘boring’ sector. The elaborate research stage involved in service design, particularly in terms of interviewing real people, was a highlight for me and also something I thought fit well within my own practice. Being able to ground the short project in something that feels more meaningful was a nice step away from my usual work, which is largely promotional.
I was positively surprised by how quickly the group were able to create an app outcome in such a short time, with the three-day ‘design dash’ approach being both quite productive but also stressful. I would take this approach forward in other projects, but between the research and prototype stages, as a way of quickly exploring pathways to test how viable they are. However, I feel I would extend it to a week or so, to allow space for more refinement that realistically allows for greater trial and error. The group dynamic was difficult to manage at times, as it felt that there was not an equal number of tasks at each stage of the project, with some people taking on more design roles whilst others did research that no longer felt applicable. This was a learning curve that reinforced that bigger groups does not always mean more efficient work.
was Reading Week - I went to visit my family
and consequently did no work :-)<3
The London Trip
As the first visit, Superunion made a really lasting impression on me in terms of just how large the scale of a design agency can really be. I must say I found it quite intimidating, therefore I was pleasantly surprised by how approachable the designers were, and how accessible their projects were once broken down. It was motivating to see that their process often reflected that which we were shown at Falmouth, only at a much larger scale. As an agency that often dips into motion, a lot of the work exposed me to areas of digital skills that I could grow into, particularly the LSO action painting motion graphics project. However, the caveat that skills in motion aren’t necessarily expected of a junior designer coming into the industry was something that I found very reassuring. That being said, working with such large budgets is something incomprehensible to me as someone only just transitioning into design, and I feel that the scale of the agency doesn’t reflect the kind of workplace dynamic I envision myself in down the road.
Let’s get the most important bit out of the way: usTwo had by far the coolest office and that’s something worthy of merit in my books. I am definitely a believer in that being in an inspiring and quirky environment helps the creative process, and on that front usTwo definitely checked the box. Having the opportunity to speak to young people that were relatively new to the industry was extremely reassuring, and although UI and UX isn’t necessarily something present in my practice, the advice they gave was some of the most mind-blowing of the entire trip. Coming from completely different pathways, with once designer even recently re-skilling from architecture, was something that I didn’t realise was so common in the design industry. The agency representatives constantly reinforced that people rarely get hired on digital skills, as that is such a changeable field, but rather the ideas and creative thinking they are able to produce. Moreover, I got the impression that designers often jumped between agencies with a common employment time being around 3-5 years. This style of working really appeals to me, as someone who wants to try out many different pathways.
Unlike the other agencies we encountered on the trip, Wiedemann and Lampe work on a consultancy basis rather than as a design agency. Prior to visiting I had only a vague idea of what that really meant, and how it differs from a design agency. I was blown away by the scale of the projects that consultancies such as Wiedemann Lampe take on, the kind that you forget is made by real people with real jobs. The small size of the team compared to the scale of the projects was something that really impressed me, although it simultaneously overwhelmed me to imagine working in a similar environment.
Having seen some studio giants, I was positively surprised during the visit to Lantern, being a design team of only four people (and mostly Falmouth graduates). Based on project output alone, this is the studio dynamic I would most strongly aspire to work towards post-graduation. Their hands on approach to tackling location-specific briefs such as the Norfolk Coastline seemed like a really stimulating way to work, from visiting the location to actually speaking to locals and tourists i.e. your ultimate user audience. Working in a space that facilitates interdisciplinarity, and therefore having a say at every stage of the process appeals to me a lot, particularly as a transition from university studio culture to the world of employment. I felt Lantern were particularly transparent about how they work, even showing examples of budgets and task distribution, therefore I would say this visit was the most revealing in terms of getting to know how the professional design world actually works. I am still very much toeing the line between illustrator and designer in my own career aspirations, however the team at Lantern reassured me that having an illustrator’s skillet is incredibly valuable in a design studio setting for projects that demand it. Lastly, the team also very much won me over with a free tote bag.
Someone had a wildly different approach to their presentation – they showcased exclusively projects where something had gone wrong, whether because of the client or audience response. I think that compared to the often idyllic perception of working within creative industries, showing the kinks in the process was incredibly valuable. It particularly revealed the importance of bureaucratic elements of working as a creative professional, from contracts to invoices, as not all clients are going to reciprocate the same respect you give them(!). Having been able to speak to a newly hired Falmouth graduate accounts manager, this studio visit also revealed an area of working in the design industry that really appeals to me but doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with making. A lot of my core skills lie in verbal interpersonal communication and meticulousness, and this is a role that opens up new potential options for me upon graduation.