2023 Hot New Things: Lucca Sharplin, Interactive Design, Media Design School

7 days ago by

Each summer DA profiles a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions. We welcome these talented emerging professionals to our industry, learn about their passions, final projects, developing creative confidence and ambitions for the future.

Today we speak with Lucca Sharplin who majored in Interactive Design at Media Design School. You can find out more about Aotearoa NZ creative study options by visiting our design schools page.


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Lucca Sharplin and I’m a fresh graduate from Media Design School with a Bachelor of Media Design, majoring in Interactive Design. My friends and family have always considered me creative and explorative from a young age and I have been passionate about building websites and starting small businesses since I was at Primary School. What I love most about being a designer is the permission to be creative every single day, solve problems, design new experiences and work on a vast variety of projects. 

What did your graduating project focus on?

‘Cando’ was the name of my final project at Media Design School, positioned in the social good sector. It’s a research-led design pursuit to promote meaningful connections between generations to create “Lifetimes of Knowledge”. It was inspired by my grandparents, who have often talked about feeling without purpose in their older and retired lives, despite having lifetimes of experiences and skills worth sharing. Cando is an application with the potential to build stronger intergenerational communities and boost confidence and accessibility with technology. Cando is a community-building platform in the form of an easy-to-use and accessible app that enables senior users to offer their expertise as a service or a class. My design outcomes were a concept application, an onboarding website and a short film campaign. Cando’s research-led design pursuit understands the value of the older demographic to the broader community and the current barriers they face with using technology. Cando revolves around using human centered design practices, accessible design and storytelling.

Why did you choose to study at Media Design School?

I was drawn to creative processes from a young age and was excited when I finally had more choice in my subjects during my later years in High School. Taking photography, fashion design, woodworking and design classes  allowed me to spend my time in ‘creator mode’ and at the drawing table and also  meant only a few sit down exams towards the end of the year, a positive thing in my book. Studying creative subjects throughout High School allowed me to develop skills in design thinking, problem solving and design methodologies which equipped me well for the Bachelor of Media Design at Media Design School, majoring in Interactive Design. 

I remember how engaged I felt during my first conversation with Media Design School. This school is so in touch with the design industry and I particularly liked how Media Design School students are constantly given the opportunity to work on real life client briefs and are led by a team of industry professional lecturers. 

I chose a major in Interactive Design because of the emotional dimension. I have always been obsessed with problem solving and turning everyday problems into opportunities to create innovative, functional and empathetic solutions that provide new and helpful experiences to people. I really appreciate how Media Design School has always supported and nurtured our personal values, making the work that we do a true reflection of the designers we want to become in the industry. 

What did you enjoy most about your course, or what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed it?

The Bachelor of Media Design at MDS encouraged creative freedom in the majority of our briefs. Always challenged to research and create design responses meant that I never lost interest or traction in any of my design projects. Media Design School has taught me the importance of developing personal design values and processes from an early stage. This helped me to find my own identity as a designer, which led to clarity and upleveled confidence with my ideas and outputs. 

Were there any exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your studies?

I never expected  how much I would enjoy studying at Media Design School. With lecturers that inspired me, classmates who encouraged me and briefs that challenged me, it was the ultimate climate for finding true fulfillment and happiness in my work. It was an exciting discovery for me to find myself as a designer and to not only understand my own values but to instill and bring them to life through my work. It feels like my studies have allowed me to grow the wings I was missing before. Never expected this kind of impact! 

What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it

In all honesty, my biggest challenge to overcome was to become comfortable with criticism. Media Design School tested me in all aspects of my work, challenged my ideas and made me think deeper about literally everything that I was creating. MDS always found a way to push me further. This sounds like a good thing (and it was) but as a student who is focused on meeting deadlines, the last thing I wanted to hear was having to reiterate, test and redesign a whole concept that I thought I loved. Over the course of my three years as a student, the design process started to become a repetitive process of dismantling and rebuilding. Rather than following a linear route, veering off tracks and finding the potholes in the road, actually led me to having major breakthroughs with my work. I started falling in love with design processes and methodologies, something that has set me up to be more critical and accepting of external criticism. Reflecting on this, inviting criticism into my work has led to the most niche and interesting places with my projects. 

Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick Interactive Design as a career path?

UX design wasn’t something that I picked as a career one day, it rather found me through my creative ventures. I have always loved creating user experiences that hit that sweet spot between functionality and visual beauty, something I realise now looking back at my old websites I built when I was only 9. My view on this started to mature and develop as I got older and learnt more about design and I realised that UX designers actually have the opportunity to improve lives. I already knew that  I naturally see through an empathetic eye so the intention of UX design deeply excited me and began filling me with a sense of purpose over the years. My natural inclination towards the creative world finally started making sense, and I haven’t once had a doubt since then that this is what I want to do in my career. With the pandemic beginning at the very start of my studies, picking up UX design couldn’t have been more relevant and intriguing during a  time like this. Tackling the world’s emerging problems, celebrating and telling stories of the planet’s people and designing for better environments and systems is what endlessly inspires me. 

Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?

My proudest portfolio piece would be my final project Cando, which is a concept application that enables senior users to gain confidence whilst using technology and sharing their lifetimes of knowledge as either a service or class. Cando was conceptualised in my second year of university and my lecturers saw the value of the concept and encouraged the continuation of Cando in my last year. Cando evolved from a concept into a proof of concept, resonating with a large group of Seniors who said how they can imagine this concept benefiting their lives and having the power to build stronger intergenerational communities. Cando was my proudest piece because I saw the effect that the concept was already having on people during the design phase. It sparked conversations between generations, encouraged Seniors to talk about their deepest passions and celebrated their skillsets. Cando was executed and evaluated through face-to-face interactions, meaning it was a project that came to life by getting to know its users on a very personal level. 

What’s next for you?

My generation has a lot of challenges to solve and I feel empowered to approach these issues critically and creatively through offering empathetic design solutions as an Interactive Designer. 

I’m particularly passionate about the social impact space and hope to create new experiences that inspire long-lasting change for our societies. 

I’m really excited to start my career in 2023!

How can people get in touch or see more of your work? 

My design brand is FreddyCreate and at its core, it’s a brand that values creating empathetic solutions for our planet and its people. You can view my portfolio at www.freddycreate.com or contact me directly at hellofreddycreate@gmail.com my inbox is always open! 

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