Baggy Pants and Butter Paper… Amelia Best, Industrial Design
This interview is the second in a series from Hamish Besley a third-year student at Victoria University Wellington – Te Herenga Waka, Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation. Each interview was first published in Baggy Pants and Butter Paper, an editorial publication for students by students (conceived in Hamish’s final year of study). The interviews explore each students pathway to design, choice of discipline, their unique personal narrative, experiences studying, the projects they take pride in, their challenges, inspirations and aspirations.
Today Hamish shares his interview with Industrial Design Major Amelia Best
BP&BP: Introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Amelia, I’m from Tauranga and I study industrial design at Victoria University. Planning to either a Master’s in Sustainable 3D Printing or Medical Design at Victoria in 2020.
BP&BP: What made you come to Victoria?
The open day was really good and also Victoria has more freedom in their classes. In first year you do everything and then in second year, you choose your Major. Whereas at some other university’s you pick your major before you have even been to the school and the classes are already crafted for you. The hall life is also better at Vic, that played a massive role.
BP&BP: What made you choose the specific major?
Originally I came to Victoria to study Social Innovation, which is more theory-based. I had no idea what Industrial Design was at the time. But in first year I took a few industrial papers and liked them more than anything else, did better in them than I thought I would and so, just carried on. I almost did a double of Social Innovation and Industrial Design. I was also, at one point, tossing up Communication design.
I love making things and having them in front of me, rather than on a screen. I found that you could be creative with your hands. I hate computer programs, they drive me insane. I’ve always designed organic products rather than geometric products and their hard to generate. It always looks to some extent like a computer has designed it.
BP&BP: Did you ever question that choice?
I’ve changed my major like 3 times. Throughout first year, I changed it heaps. Initially, it was Social Innovation, halfway through the year changed it to Communication Design, end of the second tri changed it to Industrial. I haven’t questioned it since second year.
BP&BP: What is your favorite project you’ve ever handed in? Why?
In second year I made a lamp out of a log. Mum and dad cut down this log, sent it to me and I turned it into a lamp that gets turned on when you place something on it. I moved my room around the other day though and… it broke. The top of the log bit snapped off. But, I can fix it.
Also, we’ve very recently completed an assignment based on anxiety. It can sense when you’re having an anxiety attack so it will remind you to breathe. So, that was a group assignment. We submitted to the James Dyson Award and now we’re on their website waiting to see if our product will get any further.
What is the worst project you’ve handed in? Why?
It might have been a service design paper that I did over lockdown. It was just a shit show basically. It was 4 hours worth of listening to a lecturer over zoom, there was very little interaction. Whereas in the Industrial Design papers you could draw stuff and make stuff. These ones were just report writing on design and it was very structured. I based mine on how Victoria reacted to COVID and how it wasn’t what the students needed. Which, wasn’t an awful assignment but the feedback I got on it was. I didn’t receive critical feedback on my assignment, instead, my grade comment defended the university actions. Which I found interesting.
BP&BP: What did you learn from that? (If anything)
It taught me at some point you have to consider who’s marking your work rather than the work you want to produce. You are producing work for someone else to mark so, not based on what you thought as right or wrong. Just gotta tick boxes and follow the brief. It’s not about getting your point across all the time.
BP&BP: What is the hardest project you’ve ever had to do? Why?
I made a coat hanger from recycled textiles over lockdown. I found it difficult because I didn’t have the resources. Trying to make a model wasn’t working, we had to try to make renders without the proper software. The lectures suggested that we paper mache our models and as a third-year Industrial Design student I don’t really want to be making paper mache. But I managed to scramble it all together. My uncle got me some resin from one of his friends because all the stores were shut. Also, one of my teachers from high school is a good friend and he dropped round one of the 3D printers he had. Which was beyond lucky.
BP&BP: On those long nights and early shifts what keeps you going?
It’s having people around me. I’m always working with my friend Fran who also does Industrial Design or, Josh who also does Industrial. So as long as I have someone to work with I’m fine. I just need to be sitting up with music on and lollies. Coffee makes me go to sleep because I crash. I can stay at uni until it shuts and I’m absolutely fine. It used to shut at 2 am during hell week and that was fine. But, when you go home and see your bed and your like damn. That’s far too tempting.
BP&BP: What is the highlight of your working week?
Every Friday I catch up with my old flatmates. But in terms of design, the highlights are always when you come up with an idea for an assignment that you’ve been struggling with for ages. Today I had a massive assignment for my capstone just clicked. It was the best feeling ever. I was feeling so disorganized until that clicked.
BP&BP: Outside of school what do you do?
Honestly just spend time with the flat, hang out with friends. Socializing, apart from uni, is the most important thing for me at the moment. Keeping friendships and catching up with people. Other than that I do a bit of reading. I love going on trips. In the last break, I went to the Marlborough Sounds, Christchurch, and Dunedin.
BP&BP: Do you think that affects your practice at all?
In the Malbrough Sounds there’s no service so you have a lot of time to think. You’re not distracted by social media or any of that. You’re with the people around you, books, and the sea. I found myself thinking about what I would like to design and where I want to end up in the design industry. As for Dunedin, a very different environment. I don’t think it improved my thought process, but, I don’t think it’s decreased my thought process either. Just a bit of fun.
BP&BP: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
I feel like as you are designing, usually your first 3 or 4 design concepts are basic. They are things that you’ve seen before. Like you would design this chair that would go to a trendy cafe, but your 7th, 8th, 9th concept they are where your personal design comes out. The stuff gets weird. Toss out your first five because your later concepts are where the gold is hidden. I never really realized that. I thought that the first lot was the good stuff because that’s what you thought of first. But it is so important to have your personal design style. The later concepts and ideas are where that comes out.
BP&BP: What’s the best lesson?
It was probably in first year. Before that I had no idea what I was doing, I had no clue how to use CAD software or what a 3D printer was, none of it made sense to me. But then first, second, third assignment, they just kept going really well. It was surprising to me that you could at 18 enter an industry that you had no idea existed, as long as you liked it. Even though there were people that had been using CAD modeling software since year 9 I was still able to keep up with them.
BP&BP: If you could give your past self any advice what would it be?
To find your style, don’t design something because it’s trendy. Find what you like and find your niche. Everybody has a design style, find that as soon as you can. Find your groove I suppose.
BP&BP: What are you working on now?
I’m trying to build a bit of a portfolio. Over lockdown, I started making chairs. That’s a lot of fun. Other than that it’s just uni. It keeps me busy enough.
BP&BP: Where do you want to go from here?
I’m going to apply for a summer scholarship through the uni for a summer job. You stay down there over the break and work with the industry partners. Fingers crossed I get it then. Then follow up with a Master’s in 2021. Very exciting stuff!
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