Post-IDI Reflections

Since we have concluded our year as IDI, I thought it would be nice to write some final reflections about the whole year, what I gained from it and how was it in correlation to my expectations. I should have written it earlier, as that was my plan, but oh well, summer.

At the beginning of the year our course responsible made us write our expectations down, and we gave it back on one of the last days. (I’ll post a picture of it once I find the paper….) Writing this list I kind of had an idea of what we will be doing, from briefly talking to previous year IDI students and having one course at the school before. In the end most points got realized, not all, but also a few ones that I haven’t expected.

First, my big big expectation was to learn to sketch. I still remember the first week which I think was probably one of the hardest weeks of the entire year. And that was the sketching week. We weren’t given any clear rules about how things work, just told to practice. As a person with no prior experience with sketching/drawing or any sort of experience with art I was completely lost. I wanted guidelines with would help me kickstart what otherwise I knew would be weeks or months of practice, because there must be some of those, right? I was very frustrated and lost, and it seemed like I was the only one, and that thought for sure didn’t help. Most people had some sort of art/design background or liked to draw or paint as a hobby, so for them being told to practice wasn’t as horrible of a task. I did try to practice, but it never really become a pleasant thing, and I wasn’t seeing any results, which of course didn’t motivate me further. So in the end I did not learn to sketch. I know the blame is on me, but the amount of time and effort I would have to put in that discouraged me too much.

Then came some training projects, we spent A LOT of time in the workshop making, sanding, drilling our models. Two months later I hated that. We barely had weekends at that point. I was usually taking a Saturday off and back in school on Sunday, with most of the classmates actually. Working with foam models was pretty fun in the beginning, it was a bit frustrating, but not as frustrating as sketching, because the progress there was so much more visible and overall it was much more satisfying. Still, not having weekends and working with the same thing all the time became tiring, and eventually I got to dislike it.

However, what I learned from that is those initial weeks was that I can make things with my own hands. It sounds obvious, but I never really did much of that. And right now, even though I still can’t sketch, I became MUCH more confident in just doodling some idea rather than trying to describe it with words. That absolutely wasn’t a thing I expected to learn that year.

During the year we went through a number of various software and creativity methods. We learned some 3D modelling with Rhino, but a little bit late in the year and at that point it couldn’t be used that much for our upcoming projects. It was fun and definitely great to learn that, but I never got enough motivation to develop the skills.

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At this point I also started realizing that what I know is somewhat enough, my knowledge from before I started IDI would allow me to finish most project at a quite good level, without overworking myself and ending up too frustrated at things I don’t know. When the previous year IDI students told me you’re allowed to choose how you work I didn’t really understand that very well. But in the end it was exactly that. I came to IDI with quite big knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, webdesign, and some Illustrator. And that’s what I mostly relied on. I “cheated” my way through sketching projects by correcting the bad sketches in Photoshop, tracing photographs instead of drawing by hand or modelling in 3D software. Photoshop was my main tool, because I knew it, I was comfortable with it, and it was going fast. And what’s important – no one told me it’s wrong. Teachers just emphasized working in the most effective ways for oneself.

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But not to say I haven’t learned anything. I learned a lot of InDesign through making the school magazine Wozzop at least once a month. I never knew InDesign before, I wanted to learn it but there was never enough opportunity. I always liked editorial graphic design, so I invested a lot of effort in that, even though it wasn’t part of the curriculum. I got a glimpse of 3D software and movie-making so that next time at least I won’t be afraid of having to learn a completely new thing.

I was also invested in the student union. I organized a game jam and a library lecture on web design. And like I said I was working regularly on the school magazine. I was doing a lot of additional things, and that not necessarily taught me to organize my time better, but it showed me that I really can cope with managing several things at the same time, having quite hectic, but also satisfying life. I never had my priorities on commonly-expected so-called more-important-things. It’s like in games, I prefer the side quests rather than the main quest, but those side quests turned out to be so much more fun, surprisingly rewarding, and definitely keeping me in better mental health, despite the work load. In the end it is really about having the freedom of  doing what you’re most comfortable with.

My plan, apart from learning to sketch and make stuff was definitely about getting the credits to classify for Interaction Design Masters Program. Which in the end happened. I was quite confident in my previous educational background, so I knew I don’t have to work all that much, and I really did focus more on the developing skills and projects which were more profiled towards interaction design, while disregarding others. Not fully right approach, but I was never punished for it. In the end I did get into Interact Design Masters, I didn’t overwork myself in IDI, I still did learn some things, and overall my grand masterplan worked out pretty well.

The thing I expected the least from that year though was the amount of social interaction I had. Never in my life, in previous schools have I had such great classmates. We were from 15 different countries, but that never really mattered to me. We were just a group of friends, I got to meet some great great people, which definitely helped to survive that otherwise very tiring year full of hard work. Our WhatsApp group is still bustling with new messages, even though we finished the studies 3 months ago. Some people retreated to their life, I think me included, but I think everyone still has the feeling they are part of the group and they contact any of the classmates if they want to.

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So in the end it was a really good year, I think I learned more about myself, my ways of working, weaknesses and strengths, got cool friends, and definitely became more socially open due to the great classmates, while the actual learning from educational point of view wasn’t really the center point, what I expected. But it’s good, I definitely don’t regret studying IDI. And everything really depends on your own priorities and goals you want to achieve, since you have the freedom to work in whatever way you prefer.

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Forestry project and groupwork issues

Currently we’re working on a project on service design for forestry. The project started in the beginning of April, but it really feels like it started just 2 weeks ago. We went on a field trip to the forest when we brooded in a deep snow/ice listening to a relatively boring (in my opinion) lecture. Then we were fed a ton of information, and told to read through boring scientific reports which were supposed to give us an overview of the industry and environment. In the way they did, but with the time given we only scratched the surface and which to me makes almost no difference whether or not I went through all the information. In fact, I just got the impression that everyone got confused from the amount of it and broadness, there was no clear target or problem. Sure, there are problems, quite a few, but we can’t solve all of them, and many are outside of our possibilities, e.g. influence on law and regulations and politics about forestry.

This project if a fully group project, and therefore it’s doomed for having various issues within the groups, and so it happened, and in this case the available information was our enemy. Difficulty in finding direction, agreeing on direction, people denying to read documents (I’m guilty of that too). But mostly about finding a direction and specifying ideas. From the beginning I knew I’d have to lead my group, but eventually the lack of ability to make decisions, and, in fact, lack of commitment to the group started to be a big obstacle. One day I came home really pissed off after an unproductive day of “maybes” and “perhapses” and illustrated our groupwork. At least I finally got a chance for “learning” some infographics/illustrations.

groupwork-cycle

The next day we tried to sort out our problems and also asked our program director to help us with that, which was a good thing. What I found funny at that conversation was that my remaining group members said we lack a leader, and then I wondered what was I doing all that time then. People generally don’t like groupwork and they have certain images of what leaders and leadership is about – making orders, decisions and delegating  tasks. And even though we got a brilliant and short book about working in teams, but who cares to read that? And that’s how we get those common misconceptions. I know I’m not the best leader, but I’m trying and learning, I can order, but I don’t want to, I want to make sure works get done, people stay on the right track, work is systematic, and I try facilitate to make decisions together, but nope, apparently that’s not leadership according to my group mates.

Either way, eventually we got passed that. Got a concept, which was the most obvious and simple idea, in my opinion, that I suggested not thinking anyone would approve of it, since it’s so boringly obvious, but in a way it still works. We continued working on it, with my idea and my quality standards I had the most amount of work. Oh well, if you want to get something done, do it yourself, right?

Presentation + idea + graphic design of materials all mine

Presentation + idea + graphic design of materials all mine

Anyway, that was the start. Now we’re nearing the end of the project. We had an internal presentation for our tutors on Friday that was in a way concluding main part of our project. Now we have to make a movie that would give some background to our project, without being a direct advertisement. And here is our group again, different ideas, constantly diverging instead of converging on ideas and making decisions, almost avoiding making decisions. I’m the only one writing stuff down to at least have some reference point to hold on to. In the end, it just feels like I’m forcing my vision onto others, but I really don’t know how else to encourage people to think of concrete ideas and watch out for “plot holes”. This project is quite exceptionally nerve-wrecking and testing my patience. In fact, I like the project itself, it just everything around it…

Realizations, part 2

Some time ago I wrote this entry called Realizations where I presented some of my thoughts on my future, education and skills. I want to follow up on that a little bit now.

Intro

We have this project now, a transportation design project. The brief stated:

During this 4 week course students will have the opportunity to choose a specific area of transportation to develop. Students must have chosen a segment of transportation and a specific area or detail to work on and deliver a brief description.

Expected learning outcome
After completing the course students shall have gained some knowledge of the complex World of Human interaction with transportation design, at the same time evaluating the effects of form and function in an integral part of design development. Students will also demonstrate basic skills in communicating their ideas and concept, reflecting on their strengths and abilities in the design process.

As open as that. No particular requirements, go with whatever you want pretty much. And that’s where the problem starts for me. I chose snowmobiles, out of lack of ideas, and though that one was at least somewhat interesting. And it is in fact, I loved the research part, reading opinions, seeing history of the machines, how they looked 10-20 years ago, and what directions should the improvements take. But not that it comes to applying this research… I haven’t done a single thing on it for 1.5 weeks. I’ve been thinking about it, and planning to work, but it just never happened. Why? Because what’s the reason actually?

Realizations

I realized that I’m very reason-guided person. Whatever I do in design or any sort of content has to have a clear reasoning and motivation. But in case of this project I just fail to see the reason to work on it, other than passing a course. And, honestly, that’s the same sort of experience I had though 4 years of my bachelor studies. Learn this and that to pass the course. IDI doesn’t grant me a degree and it’s a skill-improvement course for one’s own pleasure pretty much.

Over the recent projects and experiences I realized that there are things I enjoy a lot and I’m good at, for instance I really liked a recent short Arduino course, and I loved the previous project for the library. While organizing Global Game Jam I had a great time co-ordinating everything and now I’m volunteering to organize Music Tech Fest, and I spend large part of last weekend on helping with their website. Even though I abandoned web design for the most part, I still understand the code and I still enjoy it, and now having that experience of working on improvements for a large WordPress site I realized I’m pretty good at that.

Back to the project then. So basically, I’ve been doing quite a bit of meaningful and enjoyable things recently. I found out what I’m good at and what I like doing. And sketching is not among them. Nor is designing transportation or any part of it really. So why should I put my efforts in that? Of course expanding skills is good, but how much do I have to do that? I feel like my skills and interests are broad enough and I should finally start to narrow them down instead of expanding.

I’m basically the only person in my class who doesn’t like sketching. I don’t feel confident with it, but I also never really had any passion for drawing. I see how it’s useful, but it’s just not my thing. It’s not relaxing for me, it’s stressful and uncomfortable. Others like it, so for them having a meaningless project like that should be fine because they get to practice sketching.

Well, yes, I did pick a thing that doesn’t really require that much sketching, but still. It comes down to the reason. For the library project, we did it for the library, for Gardena, we did the project for the brand, and the previous couple projects were targeted at teaching us ways of working, just introduction. Now it’s no longer time for meaningless introductions like that in my opinion.

TL;DR

I don’t like how open and seemingly meaningless this project is. My inner need for reason for everything is violated. Over the last weeks/months I realized that there are things I’m good at and I enjoy a lot and have enough skills to work with (graphic design, web design and coding, organizing events). So in the end going to the gym everyday and relaxing feels more meaningful than working on a project that is “just for passing a course”.

Updates: IxD, IKSU, library lecture & projects

I was away from here for quite a long time. There were multiple times that I wanted to write something but there wasn’t enough time or I just didn’t have enough energy to go through all the typing business. I’m not necessarily back, just want to write about a couple of recent events. I’m a awfully busy person recently. But I manage to somehow deal with the school assignments, some extra events while being quite social with my amazing classmates.

Point one: IxD (Interaction design)

I applied for the Master’s program in Interaction Design at UID (where I currently study). I wanted to study that program ever since I found Umeå, but I wasn’t eligible due to lack of education in arts, and also lack of portfolio. I submitted my application in mid-January with a very weak unfinished portfolio, and to my surprise I went past the first stage, being selected from over 65 participants. In fact part of me hoped I wouldn’t get in so that I would have a chance to go for internships. But me and my friends went through the first stage, so now I’m hoping we will get in and have another great year with awesome classmates :D

For the Second stage we had to record a short video blog talking about co-design. I spent a couple of hours on Sunday filming it, and then most of Monday editing it, and when I was ready to send it in, I read the assignment again… and I had to re-shoot the entire thing. Thankfully it’s only 2-minutes long video. But first I made a video about my opinions about the method, not my experiences, as it was asked. So 2 hours before the deadline I filmed a new video, in 15 minutes this time, 1 hour editing and then uploaded it. I wonder if it’s good enough. Results will be announced probably around mid or late March. *fingers crossed*

Point two: IKSU

I finally got the IKSU card – the local sports center –  and I’m enjoying the full benefits it gives me. Despite I generally don’t like classes and workout in groups I decided to try out some here and I love them! It’s also easier to get in for classes than for a regular gym which is usually full, but at the same time I can never really push myself alone as much as during organized classes.

A couple of weeks ago we had a sports day at the university and the entrance was free. We booked beach volleyball and played it with classmates. Ever since we book it every week! Some of my best friend also decided to get a card so now we can also go to classes together. I never though I would experience going to the gym with my friends! Feels so cool! We went to 2 workouts this week, and I went to BodyCombat today as well. I love it. Plan for the future is BodyPump twice a week (for building some muscles) + BodyCombat twice a week (for cardio and cool moves) + ice skating + beach volleyball. Quite an ambitious plan, but I hope I’ll be able to maintain it for a bit. It feels great!

Point three: library lecture

Two days ago I had a lecture at the university library. The library encourages students for more participation and offers the possibility to share knowledge on various topics (and also pays quite well for that). I talked about the basics of web design. Even though I’m not updated that much on recent technologies the basics don’t really change, and there wasn’t time to get into details anyway.

The lecture went really well, and some people talked to me afterwards too. It was really cool!

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Point four: projects

Recently we had a project for the university library, mostly about updating the look of their website but we expanded the area a bit more beyond the website. We also had a great group, where I worked with two of my best friends, one of which is also a web designer (but much more experienced than I am). It was great, learning more and discussing issues. And even though we’re friend we kept the groupwork really focused on the task without going on random private conversations. I think it was the best group experience so far, where entire group worked really well (I think I was the lazy one in this case).

library

Currently we have a transportation design project, and I decided to focus on snowmobiles and their controls. I always wanted to try riding one, but since I haven’t it’s a bit challenging. I emailed an organization which rents them if I could come and at least see them from up close. Still waiting for a reply. I got really excited about it. Seems like it’s a transportation type with a very particular community, and there’s a lot of passion and love for the machines there. I love those kind of communities. But then, trying to re-work a machine is gonna be challenging not to be viewed as a total poser who ignores their passion for snowmobiles.

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All in all, I’m busy with a lot of things. And in the beginning we’re going on a trip to Brussels and Amsterdam with my friends-classmates. Best class ever! Finally!

IDI Class Blog

Finally this week we managed to get all the resources needed, and yesterday I set up our class blog. After long 2 months since it has been discussed, we finally made it!

Hopefully, we will have the motivation within the class to take care of it. If not, still, me and Felix are gonna take care of it, and make sure we upload content quite regularly :D

Onto he IDI blog >> industrialdesignintensive.se

(We also got a cool name for it :D)