Student Conversation - Aine Coleman

"You have to make sure that whatever you make is relevant and fits into an environment and a place, that it’s not going to be a waste or it’s not just filling the world with more junk."

Aine on why product design

Product Design is so spatially aware as a course, you have to be very aware of where things are in the environment which I really am drawn to. You have to make sure that whatever you make is relevant and fits into an environment and a place, that it’s not going to be a waste or it’s not just filling the world with more junk. I really love making, something that I got to do especially last year was explore forms using moulds or foam and different materials. Just getting a piece of wood and hacking into it was really nice and quite relaxing. Yeah it’s really enjoyable. I like that side of things where you can just make a craft piece and make something really nice and unique and sometimes you get to nearly obsess over little details. You sort of get lost in your own world and that’s really nice but I also like the side of it that’s more like a social kind of designing for an environment.

On her most recent project

At the moment we are working on a new project that is based on improving the dining experience which is pretty cool. Instead of doing a traditional product I had the idea of doing a book, like an instruction manual. I really try to branch out as much as I can and look into different areas. With this project I will be researching bookmaking and binding.

On material research

That’s the fun side of it, can you make it something that is lovely and tactile. It could be anything like smelly paper, or edible paper? Chapter 1…gone! I definitely will need to anchor the book itself in the dining experience. I now have to narrow it down, focus on the proper bits and pieces. What’s going in it? What’s it about and how is it going to be used? Sustainable materials would also be a deciding factor on how I would develop as a designer. Whatever I make I want it to be something that people actually need.

On the future

I want to be doing things that definitely improve the user experience or the collective experience. For instance Thomas Heatherwick has a concept of a bridge across the Thames that’s also a garden. The whole thing is covered in plants and trees and the idea is that it’s just a slow way of getting to work or a slow way of getting somewhere. That’s the way I would like to work with ideas of a space where somebody wants to be instead of a space you just have to be in. This summer I’m going to Copenhagen to work in an architect’s office. It’s an architect’s office but there are other people working there, like industrial designers, product designers and interior architects. Their approach is very much people focused and at the end of the day it’s all about people. I think it’s important that we can feel something from an object or an environment. I know small scale and I know I like working in it but I have this dream of working on a big scale as well so I’m going to see if I can do it, I’m going to try. It’s a challenge definitely so it’s scary sometimes but also it’s really exciting, really exciting.

On collaboration

Group projects can be amazing and also very challenging. Our last collaborative project was a sustainability one. We were all given pieces of junk at the start and told to research them and where they came from, are they recyclable? and all this kind of thing. We did lots and lots of concept generation and sharing of ideas. I was in a group that was looking into recycling and recycling centres. We looked at the Poolbeg Incinerator in Dublin. We came up with a proposal to build a new sorting facility there. It would have an area for companies to dump loads of plastics and excess bits and pieces and there would be access for NCAD students to wander down there and get loads of material for free and just use it up.

On experience

What we are being taught is how to observe and how to look at the world around us in a different way, in a different light. We are looking in-between things and sometimes when we look in-between we go ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if I put that in there?’ It is nice creating something for its longevity and it is important that somebody can become attached to it, whatever it is a place or an object, a love for something is really important.