Designing the future
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 13:02
Students in the graphic design program are getting a chance to showcase their skills in a real-life setting. A class in the department has paired with iFrogz, a local company that makes mobile cases and accessories.
“Students need to learn how to develop new ideas,” said Robert Winward, associate professor of art and design. “It’s all about innovation. In this world when anything can be turned into an algorithm produced on the computer, where there’s so much technology available, really the only thing that is left is innovation and new ideas.”
From the beginning, the project has helped students open their minds to new ideas, according to Chance Nelson, a senior majoring in graphic design.
“When we first started that assignment, he gave us a speech on how can we change the world with an iPhone case,” Nelson said. “He’s trying to make us use our minds, expand our minds in creative innovative ways.”
Working on actual designs for companies was exciting, especially if they already had ideas on what they wanted to do, Nelson said.
“I was pretty excited to find out that we got to work with iFrogz,” Nelson said. “I had my idea for the iPhone case anyway and I was probably not going to do anything with it anyway, but this actually forced me to put my idea into motion and I realized how good the idea was when I was working on it.”
Students from the class did design work for Skullcandy four years ago.
“I know in the previous years they worked with Skullcandy, and I was kind of always a little jealous of those students because they got to work with a cool company,” Nelson said. “They got to make like headphones and stuff and I always thought I wanted to do that someday.”
Although many businesses from the community would like the program to design for them, very few companies end up receiving the opportunity, Winward said.
“We get a lot of requests from the community to design projects, but I’m very careful to make sure of two things,” Winward said. “One: It has to fit the curriculum. It’s supposed to meet the requirements of what they are supposed to be learning in class. Two: We want to be careful that we don’t compete with local design studios.”
If the class started to design for more businesses around the valley, they would be jeopardizing possible future jobs for students who would like to design professionally, Winward said.
“We don’t want to cannibalize the future for our design students that would want to work around here, so we take on projects if they meet those two criteria,” Winward said. “But it’s a project that no one around here in the area can work on.”
Winward said there is no lack of business in the community wanting something designed for them.
“Literally, my phone fills up every single day of people in the community wanting us to design things for them. Everybody wants a logo for a new business,” Winward said. “They all think that every student needs a portfolio piece. Well, they end up with plenty of portfolio pieces. There is no shortage of portfolio pieces, but it’s great for them to have real experience, and so if there is something where we can make this a good partnership between us and the community, then it is great for the students it’s great for the community.”
Even though iFrogz is a local company, design companies in the valley can’t offer them what they need for this project, Winward said.
“No one around here is doing 3D renderings and there is no place that they can come to get 40 great ideas of what new products could be and what the particular demographic here on campus is,” he said.
After the students design the iPhone cases, they are evaluated by iFrogz and sent to China.
“They will send five of them to China to be actually produced as mockups,” Winward said. “They will actually make them for real. They’ll take it and test market them and see which ones work the best, which ones buyers are interested in.”
Sam Nelson, a senior majoring in graphic design, said many ideas can lead to a final piece.
“As far as the process goes though, it’s kind of crazy,” Nelson said. “The first thing you really do is brainstorm and vomit out all of your ideas. You just try to think of as many random possible things as you can. It’s not one final idea that leads you to your final decision. It’s a collection of various ideas.”
Designing can be a constant search for a solution which the artist knows he cannot find, according to Nelson.
“The way Bob presents the problem, he almost makes it seem like it’s impossible,” Nelson said. “There is no absolute solution and you’re constantly searching for that solution. You can’t come up with a solution for a problem, but it will never be a finished design. Everything can always be better there is never a finished design.”
Sam said the constant search for a solution is like the search for the perfect soulmate.
“It’s like searching for the perfect soulmate it doesn’t exist,” Nelson said. “The perfect soulmate, the perfect design.”