BA (Hons) Product Design
Adam Bishop / Product Design
COVID-19: How Did it Affect my Design Studies?
This year has definitely been an interesting one, one that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I’m Adam, a Product Design Student basically finishing my last year, hopefully studying MA 3D Design when I next return to Leeds Beckett University.
I’d be lying if I said these last few months have been easy, the uncertainty of what is happening with absolutely everything loomed over me pretty much every day, which impacted the amount of work I did daily. I had to adapt, being a product designer, we are usually a studio-based course. We can discuss projects in person and bounce ideas off each other very easily, sketch and model concepts and ask for feedback almost instantly from peers and tutors, have access to the 3D workshop tools and machinery to construct final iterations of ideas to even the most basic of printing facilities. This all changed.
We went from the physical to the digital. The concept of working digitally does exist in the design world from graphic communication, computer aided design (CAD) and 3D renderings, but for me this was something I had to get used to. Creating a fancy 3D rendering with everything being super polished is nice for showing proof of concept and helping visualise an idea but, in my opinion, it just doesn’t replace getting into the workshop/printing studio and creating something with your own hands. However, I had to adopt this digital style working from home in lockdown, this meant that I only had the very basic modelling materials ranging from paper, card and the odd scraps of corrugated cardboard that I somehow seemed to have accumulated over the last few years (definitely a trait of a product designer).
I had no access to a printer, so I relied heavily on using a mixture of the Adobe Suite Including Photoshop and Illustrator to create decals which I mapped across to 3D models created in Solidworks and then rendered in Solidworks Visualize.
Using the mixture of this software allowed me to create a visualisation of what my ideas would look like. For my latest project, in summary this was about creating a survival kit for small local retailers post Coronavirus to help support their businesses and create a sustainable high street for the future.
Engaging with customers at a butcher (socially distanced of course) provided insight into how customers felt towards retailers and that the kit should include a donations tub to allow customers to support small and local shops.
Lockdown hasn’t only affected how I worked but how I communicated with peers and tutors. This meant working online which was another new concept to me. Having tutorials over the phone or group tutorials through online video applications allowed me to keep in contact with people and keep them up to date with my project.
Overall, I believe this worked quite well. I could upload photos to a shared platform which could then be reflected on meaning I could make changes where needed. Up and down the nation I feel this was adopted by most design students as it was an efficient way to communicate. Interestingly I think this has benefitted me and other design students, as communicating online is not really something you are explicitly taught, whether that be in academia or industry, it’s something you learn by just doing. By working this way, I now feel I have to skills to be able to tackle online communication, whether that be conference calls in the workplace or working with clients online as a freelance designer.
This whole situation has provided me with new skills that weren’t fully developed that I can now use in a ever-changing landscape of design, it will be interesting to see where we end up next after lockdown is eased and how this will affect the design industry for the many months and years to come.