By Juljka Klingler//
Nigel Cross describes the relationship between science and design. He writes that science requires standardized formulas and repeatable results, that it requires objectivity and absolutes, and that it is concerned with the nature of what already exists. Design, on the other hand, thrives on innovation through changing methods, allows for subjectivity and experimental knowledge and is concerned with things that which do not yet exist. This division is debatable and fluctuates. For example, your early work focuses on sustaining the civil liberties and quality of life in women. Is this work mainly concerned with what already exists (inequality, old power structures and social conventions) or do you feel you are more inspired by objectivity versus subjectivity?
It depends on the design work, how you approach it. There are times when you have to follow certain formulas. Sometimes I like to follow a formula but depending on the work I can just explore and be freer with it.
Every designer has his or her own processes and methodologies. How do you feel your process has changed from your education to actually working in the industry?
In my case, coming from an advertising background, I did not intend my work to be so driven by process. It was more about time management; the work was extremely fast paced. During my education I learned the value of process and therefore, while my approach to process has changed, the process itself has not. Now, because of my master’s thesis, I have learned not only the value of process but how to present it so that an audience too can value it.
The dynamics of process are certainly dependent on time. Do you feel you design better working on long-term projects or under a short time constraint?
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I work better under pressure, as perhaps many designers do. I feel I am able to do both types of projects. If the project is larger the scope increases and there is more to explore; with short-term projects there are limitations. However, designing better based on scope? That is questionable. Whatever the circumstances, you just have to keep your focus.
Designers often think vertically and horizontally using both their left and right brains. They are forced to consider the conceptual, the practical, the visual and the psychological aspects of their design. What helps you make this shift or how do you know when to make this shift?
I am aware of it but I am not thinking, “Now I am making the shift.” I am a very visual person. It has been a challenge for me. With my master’s degree I have learned to think with greater versatility as my thesis naturally involves writing but also incorporates a crucial visual component. If I am writing about the work, maybe because English is my second language, it is harder for me.
Not everyone feels like it is important to share process. Some designers feel sharing the process involves exposing trade secrets. In your opinion, why is design process important to the designer and important to share?
I used to think sharing process was like exposing secrets, that I would rather keep it to myself and just show the end product.
What made you change your mind?
I think if we share process people will value the design work more. They will be more averred. If you show the research they will appreciate the time and effort that went into the work, this is especially important for non-designers.
Working with other people is also an integral part of the designer’s process. How do you keep these relationships healthy?
You have to be able to learn from others, designers and non-designers alike. People are a great wealth of information and everyone may have an opinion about your work. The work itself, branding for example, is not just for the designer, it is for everyone and will be seen by all people. In terms of keeping the relationships healthy, I guess it is about respect for the ideas of others. When I am presenting work, if I am explaining process, I try and keep it as clear as possible and consider the audience.
Can you tell me a little bit about your thesis, what is it you are working on?
It is a branding design project for the National Research Council Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation. My project started off with my internship. There were a few small design assignments and from those I thought it would be an exciting opportunity to work in this new field and bring in my skills. It is a branding project that deals with emotions.
What is emotional branding?
It is a branding strategy. The French designer Marc Gobé came up with it. It is about creating an emotional connection between the brand and the user. My project is about creating it through multi-dimensional, multi-sensory design tools so that you actually feel very attached to the brand. It is about using conventional branding in an unconventional way. For an institution such as the National Research Council Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation it may not seem relevant but I think it can work and it should because they are working towards clean energy. The fuel cell, hydrogen technology, is purely clean energy. If more awareness is created and if there is more involvement, they can actually develop it. This project is for a good cause and is not only commercial. I try to use storytelling in branding design. I have 2D and 3D deliverables, a tactile book object and an animation that showcases the brand identity. My written thesis is about, again, storytelling and branding, examining emotional branding and way-finding behavior. I have a whole chapter on research and mental mapping. Very briefly, it involves the physiological aspects and how I can use this unique theory to enrich my visual work.
Defne Corbacioglu is currently immersed in graduate studies. Her work, discussed above, will be viewable in the upcoming 2010 grad exhibition held at Emily Carr.