Reflection and Development

During my bachelor’s in Industrial Design, I have done many projects and gained a lot of experience. On this page, some of the most relevant learning points for my development as a designer are listed. All of the courses and projects here can also be found on the Projects page.

Creativity and Aesthetics

Creativity has always meant a lot to me, while aesthetics were more about visual design. During my bachelor’s, I expanded my understanding of aesthetics and creativity through many courses and projects.

During Digital Craftsmanship, I learned that data can be translated into visual design, and developed an appreciation for the tools that can be used to represent data in any way.

In the course Aesthetics of Interaction, I learned about how designers can design for interaction. In that project, we learned how to communicate the use of a product through its design to the user comfortably and understandably. This aspect of aesthetics is great to incorporate in projects to create a harmonious experience with little thinking and more feeling.

Starting with the USE Basic “Ethics and History of Technology”, I was introduced to the fascinating topic of ethics in smart technology. In the Artifice squad, I became more involved with the idea that ethics and aesthetics can be a beautiful combination. Artificial intelligence has some ethical concerns, like unpredictable output. In the squad, students try to look at these ethical implications from a perspective of curiosity: how can we design with or for this, instead of designing to prevent it?

In my final project, my previously collected experience, knowledge, and approaches to aesthetics came together to create a product from a first-person perspective. This way, I learned about which aesthetics and work attics work for me in a project, and why. This shaped my vision into its current version, where it covers the societal phenomenon of overstimulation and consumerism, and where I address it with more thoughtful but still future oriented design.

Technology and Realization

I was not into technology and things, I was more about biology and environment. Technology was big and scary and intimidating and machines, and I did not do that.

I realized that tech could be cool and useful and easy when you start at a low level like during the course Creative Programming. Environment was not my interest, and I cared more about the aspect of paying attention to how a product is designed.

Slowly, the fear of big technological implementation ceased as I understood the basic principles more, and got experience with simple coding languages and realization skills. In projects, it became more natural to me to pick up any electronics or coding that should be done. I could see them as challenges that can be solved, rather than scary problems to avoid. In the Making Sense of Sensors course, I was not able to explain the concept behind the code very well, which made that I could not involve others well in the process of coding. During Engineering Design, I tried to use different vocabulary and visuals to explain my ideas, which seemed helpful. By visualizing, I also managed to help think along in communication design without understanding the details in the IoT USE line. Through abstract representations and proper terminology, learned to think along on subjects I do not fully understand but can still add value to.

I hope to use this skill as a tool to ensure that all aspects of a design can work compatibly.

Coding and 3D modeling was not a part of my vocabulary. As I got in contact with 3D printing and the possibilities of electronics, these two became more interesting to me.

To explore the possibilities of designing smart systems for homes, going deeper into the digital communication and physicalizing of concepts, I followed the IoT learning line. While it did allow for practice with 3D software and designing the layout for the electronics, it unfortunately did not teach me what I had hoped to learn about communication and coding. The final product was still out of my scope.

Later, I started an individual project with the Raspberry Pi from the IoT course to get some experience with the Raspberry Pi. The Pi is powerful, and already getting some experience with it was useful for my FBP. I used a Python script on a Raspberry Pi to connect to an API to let users interact with an AI through the prototype.

Math, data and computing

AI is an ever-growing topic, especially in the field of design. Because of its human-like capabilities, it can work more harmoniously with humans than other algorithms. This harmonious communication makes artificial intelligence an interesting part of development to me as a designer.

I joined the Artifice squad for my research and FBP intending to learn how AI can be used in design. More specifically, how to keep the function of the design high, and the intelligence behind it as simple or dumb as possible. Combining this with the course Intelligent Interactive Products, I experienced when a feature or functionality can be done through hard coding, and when algorithms can be an upgrade. Taking the individual project for IIP as an example: the goal was to provide the user with different light depending on whether they were writing or sketching, and if it was dark or not. The distinction between writing and sketching had to be determined with a linear classifier because it contained too many features to analyze by hand. The selection of whether there was enough environmental light could be hard coded because it was a simple threshold that had to be passed. This insight helped me during the group project, as well as in future projects to save time, effort, and unnecessary intelligent implementations.

In my internship, a solid base of calculus was needed. The internship covered the beauty of fractals, and how to communicate it to an audience. From my experience as a calculus tutor, and with input from my internship coach, I selected the information that visitors would find interesting. In the end, I presented these mathematical findings as understandable concepts with examples in a story to the creative lead of the internship company.

User and society

Involving users and stakeholders in a design process can be intimidating, especially when you are unsure how to present your prototype to get the right feedback. In many projects, I got to try new ways of user testing: focus groups to get a discussion on the interpretation of an aesthetic interviews to explore the problem area around designing smart devices for the elderly; or a workshop to evaluate a theory on interdisciplinary design.

In the courses User-Centered Design, Design Innovation Methods, and Data Analytics, I got introduced to even more ways of collecting user input and analyzing it in a useful way. All these methods are now part of a toolset that I can utilize properly when faced with a situation that requires user input.

Business and entrepreneurship

When I started Project 1, I did not see how a product could bring value to other users. Getting feedback was intimidating.

During the course Design Innovation Methods, I learned tools and canvases to evaluate the value of a concept to iterate before presenting a concept or after exploring a problem with the user.

In a lot of projects, I compared the value of a concept to a problem that was found in user tests and studies. During my internship, I noticed how the value proposition canvases can help predict what aspects different stakeholders might have. This is also applicable to the MVP (minimal viable product) test canvases that I used in the USE (User-Society-Enterprise) learning line IoT, where we had to create a product with multiple stakeholders and conflicting interests.

Organizational and professional skills

During my bachelor, I have often felt like communication within a group did not go smooth. Often times, I had set goals to improve my own communication to get the whole group involved and on one line. In my first project, I helped with planning and I learned the basics of structuring and task assignment based on skills. Group involvement was not great there yet. In the next project, I worked with a more motivated team where we switched chair roles between meetings. From this, I learned to guide a group better, and understood what each role needs in a group project.

These skills became very useful when I worked on a multidisciplinary project. Here, all members were used to a different communication type and needed other forms of motivation. I made sure everyone understood what was going on and was aware of their tasks, which were divided according to skills and available time.

In my second year, I took a course about how to understand people’s behavior in work places and how to manipulate it. This brought me a new perspective on how different leading roles can influence how a group works. From this, I mostly use the personal involvement tips from giving and doing workshops to make meetings more lively.

Also in meetings outside of the University, I notice improvements. For committees of associations my meeting attitude became more active and goal oriented, versus a more passive listening role that I had during Engineering Design, for example.

Design and research process

Usually in a design project, I follow a double-diamond design process which I had learned in project 1. This was already an improvement on the more chaotic first project in the course From Idea to Design, where my group followed a more linear process and did not manage to iterate much. The course Design <> Research gave more structure to the approach in terms of fast iterations for user testing by quick prototyping. However, during the individual FBP, I noticed that the double-diamond approach does not work outside of group projects for me. In my FBP, starting on prototypes was scary and I avoided it. Comparing it to the Exploratory Sketching course where students are trained to be aware of the fear of starting a sketch on a blank paper, the same might apply to physical prototyping.

Future goals

User and Society goal: In my FBP, I started from a first person perspective to design a product for everyday life. While this has helped me to get started on the project, I believe it can be utilized better. I want to take that approach to understand the problem and define a goal until the first prototype Then evaluate it with users to find the right target audience and customize the product to their liking. This can be the basis for a process that combines personal motivation and user values in a product.

Design and Research Process goal: The design process can be improved by getting out of the thinking stage earlier. There will be more space for iterating. So far, it has improved already by working together with other designers with a different starting approach and practicing a lot. In my master’s program, I will work on projects with others to explore more design approaches, and in individual projects, I will practice pushing for prototypes early in the design process