Having planned to spend another year at University to study a Masters of Design, I went to New Designers exhibition in London last week not to find a job, but to get myself recognized.
With 4000 fresh design graduates from all over the UK, I knew it would be difficult to attract a lot of attention to our stand at the exhibition, especially when I found out that Northumbria University had spent £10,000 on their stand.
However there was one aspect of our work at Dundee University Innovative Product Design that separated us from the other 3993 students:
WE MAKE THINGS THAT WORK
Above: My friend and fellow classmate Scott Hobbs (www.attigo.co.uk) showing off his famous Attigo TT touchscreen turntables.
What made our exhibit stand out from the others was the fact that people were able to interact with all of our products. We didn't have little notes next to our products reading "PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH" but in fact handed out A5 sized booklets describing each of our projects which had one word on its cover: play.
And this is exactly what we wanted visitors to do; to pick up and play with everything.
Above: Me having a shot of figfour by Pete Dollman. (www.figfour.co.uk)
Although there were only 7 of us able to make it to New Designers, there was still a wide range of diversity in our work, and every visitor to our stand left a fresh new understanding of how Product Design should be.
I would hate to sound harsh against all of the other students exhibiting their work, but a nicely polished blue foam scaled model can certainly look good, and most of them look great, but what is it that makes certain Universities at the show different from anyone else?
Nothing. There was a typically generic look about all the work at the exhibition. So getting yourself noticed as a product designer is made even more difficult.
And therefore we stood out! Our products work and were used and tested by hundreds of people over the past few days. We had touch screen turntables; a text message Juke Box Service; a climbing wall for the Figfour; an interactive mood light, interactive cook book and interactive kitchen table, and finally an insightful research project into the properties of bone.
So my advice to any product design student is this: don't forget the most important factor about any product... the user interaction.