Working with ByAlex
I ended my first year with an incredible opportunity working alongside Alex Swain, London-based product and graphic designer, founder of ByAlex. Amongst the many other guest speakers that came to my school, I seemed to have gained the most from his sessions. Apart from being a brilliant and thoughtful product designer, Alex was really passionate about using design to improve consumerism — and that really stuck with me.
Like me, Alex came from a graphic design education and gradually saw the need to delve into a different discipline in order to expand his thinking. For him, it was a shift from graphic to product design. As for me, I progressed from graphic design to creative management and cultures. Leveraging on the 'cultural' aspect of my education, he roped me in to help strengthen his brand's philosophy, 'Purity by Design' as an antithesis to our growing throw-away consumerist culture.
It was my first time assuming the role of a design researcher. Thrilling as it was, the learning curve was steep and completely out of my comfort zone! Ask me anything about typography or branding and I can assure you that I'll never stop talking. But furniture and product design? These were completely unfamiliar grounds. Looking back, it was however the most effective way to expose myself to fields that I wouldn't naturally be acquainted with. Over the span of four weeks, I learned so much about how consumerism, functionalism, and reductionism directly tie back to graphic and product design. I crafted a rough research map to help visualize his brand's positioning through these different lenses.
Above attaining these head knowledge, my greatest takeaway was the opportunity to observe how a small creative studio functions up close. These are skills that you can never get out of reading, and those that I value the most. It is rare for a creative to be proficient with both design and entrepreneurship — and as a small studio, you've got to be both! It seems as though many of us are too comfortable settling with design 'software' skills, but I believe that it is these other soft skills would actually set us apart from mediocrity. This experience has caused me to realize how good design alone is (sadly) insufficient, but we need to also be able to convince the world of its goodness. I am extremely thankful for this invaluable experience and hope to be able to be a part of more opportunities like these in future!