From the Edges – Romina Abasto, Masters in App Design at Wintec
In our ‘From The Edges’ series we feature Aotearoa NZ Academic Design Projects. Our practice as designers can be seen to be explored, pushed and perhaps become something entirely new where it exists at the edges of our practice in the world of academia. Free from the constraints of commercial outcomes and clients, designers explore and challenge existing paradigms.
In this article, we talk with Romina about her Masters project, ‘Goal No Plastic’ a social platform conceptual app to get users involved in the environmental problem through sharing and finding ideas that help to reduce the consumption of single plastic-use products.
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What is your background, and how did you get to where you are now?
I graduated in industrial and graphic design, but my expertise and passion are UI and UX design.
I enjoy designing digital products as they allow you to explore different ways to solve problems, making everyday tasks easier for people. The incredible thing about design is when you start from scratch, with requirements and research, and finish with a product that people can enjoy and use.
Exploring shapes, spaces, colours and user interactions is another thing I like about designing, as they make products more enjoyable and valuable for people.
Can you give us some background on your current project?
Like others, I am concerned about how human activities impact climate change. One of my main concerns is how our consumer habits are affecting animals and destroying ecosystems, especially the use of single-use plastic products.
While it is true that one person can’t fix the pollution situation on her own, we can make a big difference as a community. So, this project surge as a design exploration to communicate how working together people can make a positive impact on the environment.
What were the catalysts or inspirations for your Masters Degree in App Design project?
The main inspiration for my project was to understand how everyday actions and decisions impact the environment. The idea of the project is to communicate how everyone can make a positive impact as a society by modifying consumption habits and encouraging others to become more environmentally conscious.
During my project, I researched how online information sharing and social media impact their everyday activities and decisions. While it is true that sometimes social media can be a source of disinformation, it is also true that it can be used to educate and create awareness about climate change situations. This research provides me with the tools to create a social app that can help to encourage people to choose an eco-friendly lifestyle.
“Goal No Plastic” is a conceptual app designed to get users involved in the environmental problem. This social platform allows people to share and find ideas that help to reduce the consumption of single plastic-use products.
What was the most challenging part of your research thus far, and how did you overcome this?
Being involved in each part of the project was a great challenge for me. As a professional, it is common to work with others, but in this case, all the projects depended on me. For that reason, I had to learn to be more efficient in time and resource management in order to finish the application on time.
I was also challenged that the project became more complex than I had planned because I had to do research with multiple users, test applications and learn new skills, but fortunately, I had great support from my supervisors, who allowed me to enjoy all the stages of the project.
Why did you choose this particular program/Wintec to complete your Masters?
When I decided to study for my Master’s, I knew what project and area I wanted to focus it, and Wintec was my first option as this institution is well known to have an excellent balance between theory and practice.
Looking back, I am convinced I made the best choice studying at Wintec. I found good support in this institution, from administrative to academic staff; everyone was helpful and friendly when I needed help.
I am incredibly grateful for my supervisors because they were extraordinary. They brought me all the information, recommendations and support during my project.
How has your Masters Degree impacted upon your own design practice?
My Master’s project was a considerable challenge that made me grow as a professional as I had to learn new skills, technologies and techniques to apply to the app. Working on my project required me to be involved in each aspect. So, I needed to set the requirements and conduct surveys with users. Those steps allowed me to continue with the conceptualization of the product and later with the design concepts until I achieved a functional prototype of the application.
Additionally, I was required to research how the design can be used to motivate and encourage people. To achieve this, I started by exploring how online information sharing affects people’s actions on issues such as climate change. This research gived me a better understanding of the conventions to create ecological awareness and elements of UI and UX that I needed to incorporate to encourage people to reduce climate change.
Finally, the Master’s made me grow as a person as I achieved one of the academic goals I was looking for, made me know incredible people and had excellent experiences.
What are your goals and aspirations for the future?
In the future, I hope to continue working in my design area, keeping up to date with new technologies and information, aspects that I consider extremely important in this profession.
In addition, I hope each project is even better than the previous one, so I expect to continue learning and growing as a professional and a person.
How can people follow you or where can we see more of your own work?
You can see more of my work on https://www.behance.net/romiabasto