Design. State of the art chairs, beautiful modernist museums, and perfectly curved lady shaves might come to mind. But, to me, the verb beats the noun. The act of designing, through the methods and techniques used, forms the indispensable link between science and society, between theory and practice. I believe design should use its power to convert knowledge into operations for the public good. Design should help people to act as responsible human beings, empowering them to take responsibility for their lives, their environment, their society.
As a designer, I have a strong focus on the design process. I believe that a proper structure can boost creativity and I am always eager on learning new techniques for doing so. I preferably design for people who could use a little support, and although I find efficiency and careful use of (financial) resources important, I aim to make a societal impact, and do not strive for pure commercial success. When working in teams, I am an active team member. I feel confident in taking the lead and try to make sure everyone is involved and feels appreciated. I have a strong sense of responsibility. This leads to responsible designs, perhaps at the expense of highly innovative and truly provocative solutions, but also makes me a caring and solid partner in a design process.
From courses to projects.During the last two years, I took nine courses and followed two courses as a passive participant, attending the lectures without working on assignments. A full list of the courses in which I was enrolled, together with reports, grades, and feedback, can be found here. By following these courses, I gathered the tools I needed for my projects.
Areas of expertiseThe opportunity to shape my own learning path during the master facilitated a highly efficient process. It helped me to grow in all of the five design competency areas, with User & Society and Technology & Realization in specific.
Creativity and Aesthetics
The development of my aesthetic skills can be described as a thread running through the courses I took and the projects I worked on during the past two years. The work of my fellow students functioned both as a source of inspiration and as a bar, which I considered to be necessary to reach. Each deliverable formed an opportunity to practice working with various programs and experimenting with colors, the use of pictures, different materials, and layouts. Especially when comparing my graphic designs to earlier work, I believe that I strongly developed these skills.
During the various projects I worked on, I also became more competent in evoking creativity. By participating in various ideation sessions, using a multitude of techniques, I learned about ways to enable a creative flow. I am happy to share these skills with others, for example during the Design Workshops for Teachers I organized.
Technology and Realization
User and Society
The individual that I am designing for takes on a central role in my design projects. During the study Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam, the courses on (social) psychology interested me the most, as did my minor in Pedagogy. The reason for not studying Psychology instead of Industrial Design is the translation that I can make from theory to practice in this study. Although I already had quite some theoretical knowledge in the field of psychology, during the past two years I learned a lot about their practical implications. Design for Behavioral Change gave me more insights and practice in doing so with respect to behavioral change, and during both my individual projects, I used theories on motivation and education to shape my design. The courses I took on the User Experience and Constructive Design Research further strengthened my empathic skills, practicing with taking on various perspectives and gathering qualitative data.
Business and Entrepreneurship
Since Business and Entrepreneurship was the expertise area I was the least competent in, I decided to enroll in the Entrepreneurship learning line during my bachelor year. The three courses made me familiar with the Lean Startup-model, the Business model canvas, and the effectuation methodology. I further strengthened my competencies in this field by taking the Design Management course during my master. The use of design methodology higher up in organizations inspired me, and our final report and my presentation for this lecture were rewarded with a 9. By working on my final master project with Design for Humanity, I also got to experience working as a designer in a diverse team. Through Design for Humanity, I got involved in various co-creation sessions and the preparation of those, including various meetings with clients and stakeholders and the writing of design briefs.
Math, Data and Computing
Since I had taken multiple courses on statistical analysis and quantitative research approaches during my bachelor Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam, I decided to enrich my knowledge and skills by focusing on qualitative research during the last couple of years. During the courses Constructive Design Research and Design for the User Experience, I learned how to execute a thematic analysis, with which I practiced during various other courses and projects. For my first individual project, I also analyzed statistical data gathered through questionnaires. Further, I strengthened my skills in this expertise area by taking the course Golden Ratio and Generative Arts. Aside from the various mathematical models we explored during the lectures and exercises, I wrote an article about the laws of physics in the work of Jackson Pollock and created a Processing program mimicking his painting process.
Design research processes
During the last two years, I learned about, and practiced with various methods to structure a design process. Although I valued the extensiveness of the Reflective Transformative Design Process model,
I believed the Design Thinking Model would provide me with more structure to shape the process for my final master project. By doing so, I could resist the temptation of staying in a specific research or design stage for too long and complete four full iterations of empathizing,
defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing.
Although I have always liked to work in an organized manner, planning ahead and upholding deadlines, the past two years made me aware of the importance of structure in a creative environment. I firmly believe that defining specific steps in a creative process greatly benefits the outcome of this process. This is also reflected in SchrijfArchitect, the product of my final master project. I divided the (creative) process of writing an Argument in nine steps, which received much appreciation from the students and teachers involved in the test sessions.
The various learning activities I undertook during my master helped me to develop my professional skills. The multitude of reports and reflections that had to be written during the courses helped me to practice my writing skills. On many occasions, I asked for
feedback on my texts by more experienced writers or gathered feedback in other ways. Especially by carefully examining this feedback I improved this competency. I learned to write and reflect more thoughtfully,
which takes more time but also results in more concise texts. Reading various articles about design and psychology further broadened my vocabulary. My presentation skills I improved by
using every opportunity I had to present projects and assignments, trying out and practicing various presentation styles. Although I am always a bit nervous, I am confident that I am able to give a well structured and convincing presentation.
Concerning teamwork, I have always found it difficult to depend on other people's work. I, therefore, tended to take the lead and took on a higher workload than the others. Although this still happens from time to time, I now take on a more active role in this process and it does not simply 'happen' to me anymore. My project management skills are often valued, like for example by the team I worked with on the Skip project, and I also benefit myself from taking control. To conclude, I highly value and appreciate working together with people from my target group and other stakeholders. Past experiences in doing so indicate that this appreciation often is mutual.
Past. Before starting my Industrial Design adventure, I studied Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam and worked as a floor manager and volunteer coordinator in a cultural venue. Both my study and my work fostered my needs for relatedness and competence. My study, especially my minor in Pedagogy, supported my interests in (social) psychology and learning- and developmental disabilities. I was good at my work, I developed my own management style, and I became competent in working with people. After a few years, however, I started to miss intellectual and creative challenges. I, therefore, decided to quit my job and become a full-time student at the Industrial Design department of Eindhoven University of Technology. The first year as a Bachelor student was inspiring, but also difficult because of the gap in age and experience between me and my fellow first-year students. I, therefore, applied for the pre-Master, after which I got accepted as a master student.
Future. Although my time at the TU/e has almost ended, I do not plan on ending my learning process. Through future work, I aim to keep on growing as a designer and as a human being.
One of my key learnings from these past years is how to transform theory to practice and a way to ensure my future growth is to keep research informing my future designs.
The overwhelming enthusiasm with which SchrijfArchitect was received by the teachers who learned about my final master project, encourages me to continue working on it after graduating. While I was creating SchrijfArchitect, I became increasingly interested in creating educational materials. I learned about so many opportunities to make a difference with design, for example in the language education for immigrants and the writing education for children diagnosed with dyslexia, that I hope to start my own company in teaching aids. Furthermore, I want to continue facilitating co-creation sessions and to keep organizing design workshops. Aside from these freelance activities, I hope to find a part-time job in a governmental or non-profit organization, making the world a little bit better.