Leaving Studio (Dec. 2018)

Throughout every semester at Virginia Tech, I have learned a great deal and been able to push myself way out of my comfort zone (given that I have little background in industrial design). Since beginning school here I have gotten comfortable working in wood shop and metal shop, using materials I have no experience with, gaining computer modeling skills, developing my design process, and expanding my group work sills. Sometimes, I can’t believe how much progress I’ve made when I look back. This semester in particular, I am proud of my work because I feel as if I haven’t had any significant failures – not from lack of trying, but from learning from mistakes and asking for advise.

One of my worries of becoming a second year industrial design student was feeling unskilled compared to other students. However, as the semester has gone on, I’ve realized, while I may not have physical building experience or 3D CAD experience, that doesn’t mean that I am not valuable as an industrial designer or have my own skills that others might not have. For example, I now have a lot of knowledge about textiles, skills I’ve developed in painting, and strong visual form critiquing skills (likely from my background in art and fashion).

Working with bananas was an intimidating idea for me due to their odd, curved shapes. My goal for this project was to allow that shape to influence my design, and I was proud because I feel like after many iterations I was able to achieve that shape, while creating a handle and something that held the bananas more stable than any of my previous prototypes.

My desk assist project was also relatively successful for me. There were several flaws in this project though. Again, I achieved a form that I was satisfied with and learned the process of CNCing wood. I do plan on continuing to use the piece in the future, which is a good sign as to the success of the project. However, there are several details that did not work out, and one more iteration would be very beneficial.

Learning to sketch like an industrial designer has been more challenging for me than I expected. Having gone to IDSA sketch group on Fridays last year and having a strong art background from high school, I was hoping to have more easy and growth in industrial design sketching than I actually feel like I did. Part of it was likely not practicing on a daily basis and part was not taking advantage of resources around me, especially in the beginning when class seemed very easy to me.

In the future, I would like to force myself to create better quality sketches for each of my projects because often I will go from quick sketches to 3D model making because I feel like I can learn more from physical objects than sketches. In my portfolio, I do feel like nice sketches will be very beneficial, so making myself practice often is important.

This semester, I also learned a lot about felting through the Materials and Processes course. Through that, I learned a lot more about the process behind the material and the properties of different fibers. Materials and Processes was a class I was very concerned about because I have little knowledge and experience of working with a variety of materials. Of all my courses, I do feel like this one was maybe the most beneficial in terms of quantity of content learned. Having an idea of how to create things is vital in design and was an area I was lacking a lot in.

For our final studio project, we were assigned our first group project, which was initially a struggle for me because my process begins with coming up with form, which is not the case of some of my group. We ended up disagreeing on a lot of our concepts, even after exchanging ideas and creating new ones based on those. Eventually, I came up with one that excited my group, and we went with it. Personally, I would’ve spent more time refining the design, but my group was very concerned with process and how to create a functional, finished piece. I learned a lot about how important taking time and energy to consider details of creating a finished piece. In the end, I think the proportions are a little off, and the spacers look a little awkward. However, I am so pleased with how we created a piece and were able to bounce ideas off each other. Everyone was excited and willing to work together to create a beautiful stool, and I think that is visible in the final prototype.

Personally, I enjoyed all the projects we had this semester and learning new skills and design techniques from others. Most projects this semester had a strong connection to furniture design and interiors, which aligned well with my interests. Next year, I hope to work on more niche projects (closer to the paper produce packaging project), where I can analyse and work for an audience other than my own use and interests. I feel like that will be a challenge for me, and I can’t wait to grow and learn more next semester!

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