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Product design students collaborate with Chinese and Korean institutions

Senior Lecturers in Product Design, Grant Baker and Daniel Shin, initiated the collaborative projects in an effort to internationalise their offerings, giving students even more sought-after skills for when they graduate.

Stool design by Luke Foster and Brandon Nield
Stool design by Luke Foster and Bradley Goulding, BA (Hons) Product Design

Year Two BA (Hons) Product Design students explored the commercial homeware market in China, Korea and the UK, working closely with students from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (GAFA) and Hanbat National University, to develop small wooden stools targeted for each individual market.

Students from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) swapped directional research with their counterparts in China and Korea, conducting an in-depth analysis into the needs and wants of each market’s target audience. To facilitate their project, all students involved had regular online conferences each week to share their findings and progress.

Grant told us: “The international design project provides a vibrant international learning experience that facilitates the reciprocal exchange of intellectual design culture. This experience has allowed our students to not only see common ground between designers from all across the world, but also exposed the feasibility for their own future success as product designers within the ever-growing global community.”

Daniel added: “We believe that, in a globalised industry, future designers will require skills in understanding the cultures of other countries, and be expected to communicate with clients through an online/virtual environment.

“This skillset is essential within our product design curriculum. In addition, this opportunity will enable us to expand our international partners to build more case studies that might lead to external funding to develop the project into a credit-bearing module with overseas partners.”

Stool design by Kim Hyeon Ji and Min Ji Yeon
Stool design by Kim Hyeon Ji and Min Ji Yeon from Hanbat National University

Luke Foster and Bradley Goulding, second year BA (Hons) Product Design students, designed a stool in collaboration with GAFA. Their work will be manufactured and then exhibited at GAFA, followed by the NTU Summer Show exhibition.

Luke told us: “The overall experience was very insightful. Seeing how design differs internationally informed our final outcome, and allowed us to develop skills and styles we may have not paid attention to previously. The Skype calls were very useful; the collaborative element of this helped develop the product with both our interests, and the interests of the students at GAFA.”

Bradley added: “Working together certainly broadened our design ideas as we gained an insight into the thoughts and design approaches from a different part of the world.

“Our final design was chosen to be manufactured, which is certainly a huge achievement for both Luke and I. Seeing our design on a computer, and then in person and actually being able to use it is a really rewarding feeling.”

International student Roxana Garcia also shared her experience on working with GAFA: “It was an interesting project; I have worked with many international students before but never long distance or from different time zones. We had another university project going on as well, which made it quite challenging, but it taught us how to prioritise and manage our time more effectively.”

We asked Year Two student Megan Glew what it was like working with students from Hanbat National University. She shared: “It was really good working with Hanbat. It was a rare opportunity to be able to compare our work to the students there, and pick up skills through them.

“The Skype sessions were useful for gathering immediate feedback from the Korean students and their thoughts about our work, and vice versa. We designed stools specifically for kimchi making in South Korea, and gathered an understanding of their consumer lifestyles.”

The selected stool designs will be manufactured in-house and displayed at the NTU Degree Show in the Newton building from 1 to 10 June 2018.

Product design students have more to look forward to in 2019, working with Pearl Academy in India on the next international design project.

Published on 24 May 2018
  • Subject area: Art and design
  • Category: Culture; School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment