Welcome to Hot New Things 2018 – an opportunity to profile a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions. This week, we speak with Hanna McLachlan from Massey.
Bachelor of Design honours (Visual Communication Design major)
You completed your full time studies at the end of 2017. Can you tell us what your final year’s project was about and what you focussed on?
My honours project speculated on the user experience of a workplace in 2022. My research showed that the offices many people work in today were designed to support processes and technologies from the past. It’s forecasted that new technologies like The Internet of Things will help to create a responsive workplace where devices, furniture and environments digitally interact to enhance the productivity and well-being of employees.
I created a co-working space named Verso which aimed to express the future employee experience and shifts in workplace design. I communicated this through a responsive website, showing the different user interactions. The system I designed increases employee wellness, engagement and effectiveness through real-time workplace optimisation, in response to user needs. For example, your smart watch can detect your attention is fading by changes to skin temperature, and in response the system may adjust the light intensity or colour, increase the airflow or even add specific scents to restore your focus.
How has what you’ve recently been working on influenced your design process, and what momentum does it bring to your practice?
Working on a year-long project had its challenges but it taught me to trust the process. I really developed my skills in design thinking, and the ability to communicate ideas and research in a visually engaging way.
What were some of your most exciting discoveries?
It was fascinating researching the predictions into the future employee experience, particularly the idea of smart workplaces that will be able to tell when you’re tired or stressed and manipulate your environment to encourage a change. After looking at the past and present trends of workplace design it was really exciting to see that the focus is shifting to people, not just spaces.
And also some of the challenges along the way?
A challenge I faced during this project, was how to reference Industrial and Spatial design elements of workplace design within the context of Visual Communication Design (my major). It was difficult to create an output that visually embodied the predictions I researched, so I chose to resolve my idea through experience design, communicating the changed user experience.
What did you love doing most?
When I decided that my project was going to be a speculative one it got really exciting as I now had a bit more freedom to utilise new technologies and creatively interpret the research I’d done. I also loved designing in a futuristic style, projecting what the UX and UI would be like in five years time.
Where do you go to find inspiration (websites, resources, designers, etc)?
I find a lot of my inspiration online from various design websites like Uplabs and Designspiration. I also like looking at award sites like the Best Awards, seeing the work that New Zealand’s top designers are doing.
Why did you choose to study at your design school, and what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed your course?
I chose Massey because they offer a practical course and the chance to try a variety of design disciplines within your degree. I was able to mix my Visual Communications major with Photography and Textile electives and broaden my skill set. Massey also focuses on creative thinking and I feel that’s the one of the biggest things I take away from the course, the ability to solve problems through design.
In my third year I also studied in Singapore during a semester abroad exchange at Nanyang Technological University. It was a really exciting opportunity to experience living in a different cultural environment, learning under international lectures and even exhibiting work at the ArtScience Museum.
Where to next for you? What does 2018 hold?
After I finished studying I completed an internship at Plato Creative, in Christchurch. At the moment I’m freelancing, enjoying the chance to work on a range of difference projects and will wait and see what comes next!