2024 Hot New Things: Kirsty Leggett, Media Design School
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 Kirsty Leggett, who recently graduated from Media Design School with a bachelor of Media Design, specialising in UX/UI. 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 Kirsty Leggett and I’m a recent graduate from Media Design School with a Bachelor of Media Design, majoring in Interactive Design. From a young age, I have always been a passionate creative, both in the world of design and the likes of theatre and film. The aspect I cherish most about being a designer is the daily opportunity to unleash creativity, tackle challenges, work collaboratively to design solutions, and engage in a diverse range of projects.
What did your graduating project focus on?
‘DesignHer+’ was the name of my final capstone project. It is a two-day immersive experience for female creatives embarking on their design careers that offers a unique journey into creativity, culture, and leadership, and includes interactive workshops, inspiring speakers, and networking opportunities. The event aims to assist participants in unveiling their creative identities, forging connections with fellow female professionals, and contributing to the advancement of a more equitable design industry in Aotearoa. The primary goal is to bridge the gap between academia and industry while inspiring female designers by emphasising the impact of visibility and the strength of unity within the design community. As a female designer myself, I took on this project as a way of confronting my own emotions about entering the design industry as a woman for the first time and wanting to create a space that was safe and inclusive for other up and coming women.
Why did you choose to study at Media Design School?
My journey into the world of creativity began from a very young age, and continued with my first degree in theatre and film from Victoria University. This foundation armed me with problem-solving skills and diverse methodologies, laying the groundwork for what awaited me at Media Design School (MDS). I knew that I wanted to position the knowledge I already possessed into the design space and make this my main focus, so this led to the decision of transferring to the Bachelor of Media Design at MDS.
I wanted a learning environment that not only nurtured my education but also empowered me with creative freedom to delve into projects close to my heart. MDS stood out for its remarkable blend of academic rigour and the freedom it offered for self-guided exploration. The university’s ties with industry were equally impressive, providing students like me with opportunities to tackle real-world briefs for clients. The track record of past students’ accomplishments and awards only encouraged me further to be a part of MDS’s community.
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 encouraged creative freedom in the majority of our briefs. These tasks consistently pushed me to explore beyond the norm, prompting research and innovative thinking to create design solutions that consistently fueled my learning journey. Supported by both my peers and faculty, I found continual inspiration and motivation to push boundaries within my design. Media Design School has taught me the importance of developing personal design values and processes, which ultimately helped me discover my own identity as a designer. This journey brought clarity and boosted my confidence in
generating ideas and delivering impactful outputs.
Were there any exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your studies?
Lots and lots! I definitely discovered a lot of hidden talents that I did not know I had, especially within the digital design space. I also did not realise how much I would enjoy studying at a smaller university, where you get the opportunity to form great relationships with people who constantly inspire and motivate you to be the best designer you can be. Discovering myself as a designer was very exciting, not only in comprehending my values but also in embodying and expressing them through my work. My studies have been instrumental in discovering an aspect of my identity that I did not know was missing before but now I could not imagine living without.
What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it?
In the competitive world of design, I initially struggled with comparing myself to others. Discovering my design identity boosted my confidence and taught me that everyone has their own creative journey. Embracing what makes me different became the foundation for growing more confident each day and presenting myself in the best light. I also learned to let go of the idea that design follows a linear path. Embracing the messiness and imbalance in the process became okay and essential for my growth. This acceptance helped me appreciate design methodologies, making me more self-assured in my abilities and open to constructive feedback in my projects.
Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick Interactive Design as a
Unexpectedly, UX/UI design wasn’t initially on my career radar; instead, it found me during my design journey. Looking back, it seems fitting because I’ve always been drawn to making things visually appealing while ensuring they serve a purpose. Discovering that MDS offered a specialisation emphasising empathy, functionality, and aesthetics resonated with me deeply. As the pandemic unfolded during my first year of study, the relevance of choosing UX/UI design became even more apparent in uncertain times. Addressing global challenges, sharing stories, and designing solutions for sustainable impact is an ever growing inspiration for me.
Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?
Every piece of work from MDS contributed to shaping the designer I am today, but my final capstone project stands out as a significant reflection of my growth. Throughout my first and second year, many of my projects focused on gender in design—a topic close to my heart. So, dedicating my final project along similar lines felt natural. It showcased the evolution of my design skills and how my personal journey reflects in my work. DesignHer+ holds a special place as my proudest accomplishment. Witnessing its impact during the design phase and foreseeing its potential was remarkable. It sparked vital conversations among female designers and motivated graduates to connect with industry professionals. The process behind this project was far from linear, involving constant refinement and critiques. Yet, this journey stands as a testament to my development, embracing discomfort to achieve the best outcomes.
What’s next for you?
I look forward to collaborating with like-minded individuals and brands, designing purpose-driven design solutions that inspire positive change and resonate with ideal clients. After finishing uni for the year, I now also place focus on personal design projects that have been on my mind for the past few months, and leveraging the skills and knowledge acquired at MDS to elevate them further. As 2024 unfolds, I’m open to diverse possibilities—whether it’s venturing into freelance work while travelling or joining a dynamic design team within a company to create some kicks design solutions. Regardless of the path, I’m very excited for my career journey in 2024!
How can people get in touch or see more of your work?
My design brand is MoodDesignStudio and at its core, it’s a brand that uses human centred thinking and values creating empathetic solutions, designed with purpose for sustainable impact. You can view my portfolio at www.mooddesignstudio.com or contact me directly at email@example.com my inbox is always open!