Postgraduate Design Research Series: Jayesh Bhana and Morgan Tahapehi from The Studioby Corinne Smith on 18/10/2012
This is the second in our new series focusing on design research. Once a month we talk to a postgraduate student, starting from postgraduate diploma level progressing through to PhD level. Each student gives us a brief overview of their research—how they ended up in that research area, what they are working on, what they have learnt, and if this has changed their design practice.
This month we focus on Jayesh Bhana and Morgan Tahapehi, from The Studio (Post Graduate Diploma Stream B) at AUT.
Tell us about your research project.
We are in The Studio doing our postgraduate diploma. It’s an industry driven environment where students and staff work collaboratively on various design projects that are either from or for industry. Our research project involves our self-professionalisation as designers.
How did you get into this research area?
Coming fresh out of undergraduate study we felt our skills needed development to meet industry standards. We realised there is a gap between academia and industry: The Studio provides a platform to help us transition between the two. The briefs we do in The Studio allow us to reflect and engage with our underlying research focuses.
Jayesh: The realisation of a problem lying within a solution, which I originally saw in information design, has now become a concept, which I have been able to relate to other types of design.
Morgan: Helping people and socialising are two things I love to do. These drive my research focus of community building through designing events and opportunities for people to connect. My challenge has been to come out from behind the desk and actively engage with the people, and to take my experience and draw from it.
Where are you at so far with your research?
We have had the chance to work on live briefs that range from the ‘bread and butter’ jobs to more experimental projects. The ‘bread and butter’ jobs have helped us to practice working in teams, meet tight deadlines, present to real clients and to take the initiative to maintain and manage jobs, all of which have been essential in the process of becoming more professional in preparation for the real world. The opportunity to create self-initiated briefs has brought on more conceptual projects such as Problem Solved, an exploration of information design and narrative or ’info-narrative‘. Fry for Kai is a collaborative project; it is a pop-up event bringing people together through the Maori concept of Manaakitanga (kindness and hospitality). These projects are still in progress but so far have challenged our design thinking and making, allowing us to play and explore different design terrains.
What have you learned from this design research, and has it changed your practice?
Due to the collaborative nature of The Studio, we have had the opportunity to work on a number of projects together, with other designers, people from other disciplines and people from industry. Collaboration is a new dynamic that we have embraced since coming from a very self-orientated undergrad program. The opportunity to work with others has lead us to develop more of an interest in how social aspects influence design, and how important the creation of an experience through design is to us.
Our research has also helped us to build confidence to take risks, to push ideas through experimentation, and to explore new ground. Design thinking has the ability to make a difference, to create an experience or simply put a smile on someone’s face.
Morgan Tahapehi directly.
Keep an eye out next month for more postgraduate design work. If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out Leanne Miller’s work – the first in the series.