Mira Kirvesmaki

Design with heart

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Inspiration (and tips) from 2012 DJCAD degree show

I have now visited couple of times the DJCAD 2012 degree show¬†and I’d like to share some of the inspirations (and tips for next year) that I got from it.

Degree show entrance

Me, my camera and the textiles department. Picture taken by the lovely Virginia Vila

This was, I’m ashamed to admit, my first ever visit to the DJCAD degree show. But to make up this fact I did visit this one several times. There were several inspiring projects and over all some pretty talented people showcasing. Out of all these there were two that really stood out and stuck with me that I’d like to specially mention here.

One was by illustrator Lauren Pass and it was a piece that through the analogy of flowers and the medium of beautiful illustrations explores female circumcision. As disturbing as the topic is the illustrations managed to capture it in a way that to me felt intriguing and compelling, truly visual communication at it’s best.

The honours project of Lauren Pass

My other highlight project similarly explored a difficult issue, the social issues that women in Pakistan face today. The work by the jewelry and metal designer Sana Aziz constructed a beautiful narrative through pieces of jewelry and objects that tells a story of a small pink circus elephant. This analogy subtly drew comparisons between the circus and the underlying issues that the women face like education constraints and arranged marriages. The pieces themselves were beautiful objects further made more compelling by the use of storytelling to tie them not only together but to a wider social context.

The overall set up of Sana Azizs work. This was further complimented with a video playing about the project on the left side.

Close up of one of the pieces

Over all I was most blown away with the textiles department setup and use of space. Everything felt extremely professional and the amount of attention that had gone into it was staggering. Above all the way everything was setup really allowed for the pieces and individuals to shine, everyone seemed to have their own space to showcase their work in. This was something that the jewelry department succeeded in as well, though in a slightly smaller scale.

The textiles department

For future tips my main take away (as I just might casually borrow these ideas for next year) on individual level was that the “brand” identity of the final piece should extend to the setup. This created an intriguing and cohesive collections of individual works that invited to come and take a closer look. This also added to the communication value as it was easy to see where one piece ended and next began as well as what was the main feel of the piece even if you were looking at it from further away.

An individual space for a textile project

Clear indications of where one project ended and next started as well as of the general feel of the project

Beautiful images enhanced the setup greatly

Another important aspect was that the pieces that communicated their core idea in just few simple images/quotes/etc. were the ones that I wanted to explore the most. Especially the textiles department seemed to get this right as for example some of the inspirations for the pieces were successfully communicated through a single image. Clear and concise communication was extremely luring and something I definitely want to strive for next year.

Project and it’s inspiration: candy.

Got inspiration from nature? Bring nature to the setup. This also goes well for my previous point of communicating core values in the setup.

Masterfully communicating inspiration (death /de-colouring of coral reefs) in one single image.

There were several other inspiring pieces, too many to include them all here. All in all brilliant show and now can’t wait for it to be my turn next year. Truly exciting times.

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Getting ready for fourth year

I’m very close (one exam remaining) to finishing my third year and the implications of that are hitting me hard. Mostly the fact that my honours year is only a short summer away. This panic has fueled me to start preparing for the coming challenge.

The first thing I started with was going over this years honours project guidelines noting down any questions or doubts it brought fourth. Most of them are quite big questions more to determine the course of my project (and my career) than to do with any details in the guidelines. Not only do I need to figure out the big things first but also the details are subject to change from one year to another. I will try to find answer to these questions over summer, if at all possible.

Starting a wall of questions

One of the big questions is what do I want to do when I grow up (or graduate from university, which ever comes first). This will then drive the answers to many of my other questions like what skills do I want to learn/further during my fourth year and who do I want the project to attract. My plan to tackle this is trying to look at job applications pick them apart and see where my skills and interest meet in the working field. My final aim is to create a word cloud of sorts that will allow me to easily see what skills are employers looking for and under what title (IxD, UX, Service designs etc.). I’ll get back on this once I get it fully started (probably later in the summer). Part of this will also be having a good and hard look at the current skills I have and any gaps that might exist in them. A good old SWOT analysis on my skill set.

I have also started gathering projects that I would be happy with if they were my final year project. Here I am aiming for the moon. I am collecting mostly professional projects as I am aiming (even if in the end I come up bit short) for a project that could be commercially viable/based on a real world problem and has a distinctive and polished look. You can follow my lunar expedition through my chosen medium: a pinterest board.

Only started today so the board is still to be filled

One big aspect of getting ready for my final year of study is preparing my dissertation over summer. This has been a key advice given by both current fourth years as well as members of the staff. While the exact topic is still somewhat a mystery even to me I am currently looking into the use of tactile/sensory feedback in interaction design as inspired by the A Brief Rant On The Future Of Interaction Design post by Bret Victor. I’ll see where this leads me.

Going on a sort of sidetrack I’m also currently working towards finishing my “branding”: portfolio site, pdf portfolio, printable portfolio, business card, CV, the works. As I know that fourth year is going to take all the time and energy I have I want to have these ready. The aim in the end is of course to finally realize the dream of finding a job as a designer.

This is the plan, wish me luck.