As each year comes to an end, third-year, honours and master’s students in the School of Design and the School of Architecture showcase their work in an annual display. This year, a small group of students have teamed up with design studio Trigger to create a showcase that spans five levels of Building 6. We talk to Trigger’s founder, and UTS alumnus, Gregory Anderson and visual communication student Wendy San to find out what it takes to bring the work of architecture, visual communication, and fashion and textiles students to life.
This type of exhibition, where UTS’s School of Design and School of Architecture have combined all of the disciplines, has only happened once before, in 2017. We work with product designers, architects and interior designers throughout our degree, so why not showcase that?
Having it on campus also means that people can see where the work gets done and where the students are coming up with the ideas. I think it’s really good, even though Building 6 is a really hard space to work with!
For this process, I’m working with three other visual communication students – Kimberly Luo, Crystal Yiamkiati and Nicole Yeom – as part of the ‘2D team’. We’re working alongside architecture and product design students, the ‘3D team’. They take care of things like the interiors and spatial design, whereas we look at our marketing, signage and how we present people's works. If we need the dimensions for a room, we’ll ask the 3D team, and if they needed branded artwork for something, they'll come to us.
It comes down to what our skillsets are and how we can collaborate together to create something that speaks to the general audience. Being able to work on a public-facing project is not something you experience, day-to-day, as a university student. We have the power to shape the entire experience of families, friends and industry leaders which is the beauty of this project and what makes it so exciting!
Even though there are so many different types of works, like huge models for architecture or posters for visual communication, our responsibility is to make everything speak to each other, yet allow them to exist as unique standalone projects. We do this by working with Gregory and Chee Lam – an architect who is part of the Trigger team – each week, getting feedback from them and figuring out how we're going to put it into practice.
At the beginning it was quite overwhelming because we didn't know what we were doing. But, Gregory was the voice of reason. There was a significant moment in the first few weeks when we felt overwhelmed by the iterative process of coming up with ideas for the branding, but, once we told Gregory, he helped us see that this was in fact a normal part of the design process.
The whole process has actually felt like I'm working within his studio. A couple of us, like me, already work in industry. I’m a part-time graphic designer for an eyewear company, but there’s still so much to learn.
This is my last semester of uni, and after this I really want to work in user experience, which involves observing how people interact with products and utilising design thinking and problem solving strategies to develop an experience that will add value to their lives. I’ve discovered that I like working in the collaborative space, and with people from different disciplines, so that's the avenue I want to go down.
Working on the end of year exhibition has given me the opportunity to dabble in this space and so far it’s been a lot of fun!
I’ve always had close ties with UTS. I graduated in 1994 and have periodically lectured and supervised over the years. The university has evolved so much over this time and I’m learning each time I engage here.
This project is a collaboration between my design studio, Trigger, which specialises in design and strategy for curated and branded spaces, and UTS. When we were generating ideas for the UTS DAB grad show, we wanted to communicate a multi-disciplinary message, and indicate that there are not only connections but collisions as part of this process. There’s also a logical and emotional connection through all of the School of Design and School of Architecture courses, and our objective for the exhibition is to show how they work together and what makes UTS unique.
It’s been a very hands-on process. The students are involved in all aspects of creating the exhibition; it's a combination of being a bit of a classroom and a bit of a studio.
In fact, UTS has set it up so this subject is an elective for the students, rather than an extra commitment. It’s great having a dedicated team working on realising the exhibition. The structure of the team is that Chee and I are overall creative directors. At the beginning of the process we split the team into two groups: a 2D team made up of visual communication students, and 3D team made up of architecture and product design students.
I don't call them ‘the students', though, I call us ‘the team’. The students, Trigger and UTS are collaborators rather than a student/teacher set up.
Wendy has been an incredible force in the 2D team. She’s very organised, very well-spoken and very good at thinking things through. I respect her a lot. I think she'll be a really amazing designer out in the industry – she’s creative but also has a lot of the business-like qualities that are really valuable and sought after.
When I studied visual communication there wasn't as much collaboration. We would help each other, but our exhibition wasn’t much more than carpet partition walls and thumb tacks! There wasn't a lot of multi-disciplinary collaboration happening. I think it’s great that students from different courses have been given the chance to work together on this project.
Working with a brand designer is very different to working with an architect, or an engineer, or a lighting expert, or an AV expert, and it’s really important to have this collaborative experience prior to entering the industry.
There are some components in the showcase that I’m particularly excited to see realised, but I won't give it away. You'll have to come and see for yourself!
Find out more about Futures Histories at utsdabgradshow.com