Ellipses and I Have Come a Long Way
By Aisha Thaj, Design Intern
How do you start a blog post? On the same day you’re saying goodbye. Like a journey map, I’ll start with my desire for an internship.
As a first year Product Design student at WMU looking for an internship, I was apprehensive about all that I didn’t know and eager to learn everything I possibly could. After switching my major from Chemical Engineering to Product Design, I knew I wanted to gain as much real-world experience as I could. I wanted an idea of what being an Industrial Designer really entails, more than what a classroom can provide. I found this, and so much more, at Tekna.
My first week here was a whirlwind of people and projects. Hearing each designer describe their project and work process opened my eyes to the nuances of the field. I sat in on some conference calls (ooh, so official!) and picked up some ID terms and concepts right away: the subtle consistency of pattern and shape in a product line, what constitutes visual tension and flow, and the balance of a client/design firm relationship.
With very little (really, no) product design sketching under my belt, Simon’s “Crash Course in Drawing” (enrollment and registration pending for the next batch of students) is where my internship at Tekna really started. With many designers offering feedback and constructive criticism all summer, I don’t know how I’m supposed to go back to just one product design professor in a classroom full of design students.
The overarching focus of my internship was a tangent of an internal design project that Tekna is working on. I had grand aspirations for a crazy, sculptural piece that would blow everyone’s socks off. But it only took a few hours of market research and googling to adjust my expectations to a much more realistic end. It also helped that I was taking a “Materials and Processes in Manufacturing” class at the time.
After an initial image collection, we went through a few rounds of inspiration boarding, narrowing in on top priorities for form and function. Each discussion led to more questions about customer use and cultivating delightful moments vs. pain points…. which led to a brainstorming session…which meant figuring out how to run a brainstorming session. I learned about the balance of asking questions that are specific enough to move the project forward but vague enough to generate an unbiased discussion. Through this process, I discovered new ideas, new questions, and new problems.
I have learned so much during my internship! I now understand that good design is a mix of plenty of research, scrapped ideas and countless sketches, along with engineering/functionality considerations. From a skills standpoint, my sketching has improved, and I was able to dip my toes into the world of modeling software. But even more importantly, I have a better idea of my career goals with something tangible I can work towards―and that makes my experience at Tekna invaluable. Thank you, Tekna!