University of Alberta Bachelor of Design 2013 Graduate show
I had the pleasure of chatting with the humble and charming Design Grad students – Sarah Chou and Laila Steen as they walked me through this year’s Bachelor of Design Graduate show. The show – On The Line runs until April 13th 2013.
I had a few questions for Sarah and Laila:
What is On The Line?
On the Line is this year’s Bachelor of Design Graduate Show. It features the work of graduating students from the Department of Art and Design in the Bachelor of Design program studying industrial design and visual communication design.
Can you tell me why you chose the name of “On The Line” for the Grad show this year?
On the Line represents the risk we take in exposing our work to the public. Like pinning our laundry out on the line, we expose the personal belongings that hold so much information about ourselves through this exhibition.
Can you tell me a bit about the symbolism/meaning behind this year’s poster design?
The motif we used for our show resonates with standard laundry icons you see on care instructions of clothing items. The blue accent to connects with the fresh feeling you get after airing your laundry out in your backyard. It was designed by Natasia Ouellette, a graduating student who is part of the show.
How many students are involved?
There are 31 graduates in total. 11 of them are committee members.
There are two different Majors that are graduating and displaying their work?
Visual Communication Design and Industrial Design
What is the difference between the two Majors?
Industrial Design is about the three-dimensional objects in our daily lives. It ranges from customized furniture to products that are ready for manufacturing. Visual Communication Design focuses on visual systems and communicating ideas and information through words and images. It can range from magazines, to logos and branding, to way-finding signage.
Both have an emphasis on design thinking. This involves problem solving and being considerate with the design choices we make.
How many years have the students been in school?
Many have been through program for 4 years, some 5. There are also students who have transferred into the program after taking other courses previously.
What does a Visual Communication Design grad come away with?
A visual communication student comes away with the ability to think beyond just the aesthetics of a brief. We learn to think about how information is used and displayed within a cohesive visual system. Students learn how to properly use typography, integrate word and image, work with composition and form, and develop pieces that demonstrate a strong understanding of communication and problem solving.
What does an Industrial Design grad come away with?
An industrial design student comes away with extensive knowledge of materials and processes, a deep understanding of design principles according to both function, usability, ergonomic and aesthetic principles, strong ability to communicate and develop ideas visually through ideation, 3D modelling and rapid prototyping, as well as the understanding of the design process: basically to detect a problem and determine the solution through a process of considering and utilizing all of the above.
What kind of work goes into the final design show?
The best work that students have developed throughout the program. Most of them are recent (within 2 years).
How long and how much work did it take to put together this final gallery show?
Planning the show began in the middle of October, and continured until the first day of opening, April 2. We have poured countless hours into planning fundraisers, getting the catalogue designed and printed, creating the website, setting up the exhibit and making sure everything is ready. All the students have contributed and volunteer their time to make everything happen on top of finishing and preparing the actual pieces themselves.
Where do you hope to go with your career now that you’ve graduated / what are your plans now that you have graduated?
Personally I am applying for a master of science in rehabilitation science with a focus in surgical design and simulation. I will be able to develop digital processes and in assisting in the planning of surgical procedures, as well as the development of prosthesis design. The MSc is with the University of Alberta Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, provided with support from iRSM (Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine) and the Department of Art & Design.
I look forward to stepping into the industry and applying the skills I have acquired throughout the program. Ideally I would work at an ad agency or small design firm. An ad agency would provide me with the chance to collaborate with a team of people who have unique strengths that compliment and improve the work of each other. A design firm presents me with the opportunity to experience the in’s and out’s of the industry: from conceptualization, to production, to account management.
After the tour, I asked Chou and Steen why they would recommend the UAlberta design programs. They both talked about how UAlberta teaches their designers to think and solve problems constructively. And how designs coming out of UAlberta are forward thinking, taking in the bigger picture rather than just designing something for pure aesthetics.
They also both spoke to the way the programs are wholistic in that design students are able to focus on whatever design direction they want to go. Students are provided with the tools and instruction they need, and are encouraged to create what interests them.
A timely question with the recent budget cuts in Alberta, I asked them why the field of art and design is important to invest in education-wise?
Again both Chou and Steen talked about how design studies produce critical thinkers who contribute in many more areas than traditionally thought. With the creative industry being one of the fastest growing industries in the western world many companies seek out designers to complete their team with problem-solvers and creators.
A designer’s work can improve safety through procedural design, or the design of an effective manual. Their work pushes the boundaries of technology as they create solutions to real-world problems on the go, and even contributes to fields of medicine as Steen has plans to do with her work in surgical design.
I encourage you to visit FAB Gallery before On The Line is over and see for yourself the stunning work produced by this year’s Design Graduates.
You can also find out more about the show and the Grad students themselves, by visiting
If you are interested in joining future design graduates in making your creative mark on the world, check out www.artdesign.ualberta.ca for more information on how to apply to the Art and Design programs at the University of Alberta. You can also follow @UofAArtDesign on twitter for Art and Design news and updates.