Opportunity Knocks...on the Other Side of the World
Nellie High, senior at Design Institute, recently took the trip of a lifetime all in the name of design. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Nellie worked in a family owned business doing construction, design and development, along with some high end residential work. Nellie came to the states to be closer to her daughter who decided to attend college in northern California 4 years ago. She found DI by asking around and could not be more thrilled by the recommendations. "I think that all of the classes are fabulous. I love coming to school."
In June Nellie saw an open invitation to designers and students to take part in a free universal design workshop hosted by the metropolitan government of Seoul, Korea. She applied with 3 pieces of her newly completed portfolio. "Thank goodness I just took Photoshop so I knew what they were asking for!" Three weeks later Nellie opened her mailbox and was overjoyed to find an acceptance letter.
At the formal ceremony, the first night in Seoul, Nellie realized just how seriously the Seoul Government was about design and this workshop. After receiving a list of project options she chose the target group of children and was put in a group of designers from all over the world including Japan, Brazil, Korea, Iran, Thailand and the Philippines. They were from a variety of design fields: interior design, architecture, graphic design, and industrial design. Yet, as Nellie put it "We have something in common, we are all designers and we implement our creative minds." In the two weeks she was there, Nellie had an intensive schedule including lectures with mediators from all around the world and city officials, work time with her group, tours around the city, presentations and ceremonies. The days started at 8am and often went past midnight. Nellie's reflection of the two weeks was that "It was intense."
Seoul is working on reconstructing the city in a series of ways including saving the original classical architecture, designing innovative and modern buildings and incorporating green design. "They are building extensively which makes Seoul an excellent place of opportunity for designers." Koreans value preservation along with innovation. They put great care into restoring the original Han-oks, traditional Korean houses, while adding a modern twist to the interior. One of the major designs that was recently completed by the metropolitan government is the Cheonaggaecheon stream which is a man-made river that runs for several miles through the city. It is strictly used as a public space and has been tremendously successful. One of the largest ongoing designs is the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park which is a multi-use park, fashion plaza and underground mall designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid. This is an enormous undertaking and will most definitely show off Korean prosperity and bring the world's attention to the city, just as Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum did for Bilbao, Spain.
It is because of their forward thinking that the city of Seoul was awarded the title of "World Design Capital 2010" by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) and decided to host this workshop. The point was to bring together designers of all fields from around the world to come up with design solutions that will actually be implemented. "It's very exciting to know that our projects will be built for real and that they're looking forward to doing it." The city presented the designers with the issues while moderators (University professors from around the world) directed the groups. Prof. Julia Cassim of the U.K. Royal College of Art informed the group that she prefers the term "inclusive" design because design can never be fully "universal" due to specific cultural needs and strategies. When sent off with her group, Nellie was pleasantly surprised by how open and minimal the directions were. "We were given a lot of freedom when designing. [Seoul] is a prosperous city with high-end technology and shops with raw materials and HUGE machines which allow even your most wild designs to come true. You can design whatever comes to your mind and they can produce it."
The specific project that Nellie and her group designed was lighted arrows on the ground to help children cross the street. The issue being addressed was the unnecessary deaths and injuries to children getting hit by cars. They designed and presented a prototype along with a digital presentation that included all the materials, dimensions and components. During this process Nellie was extremely grateful for her time at DI. "My education at DI has helped me greatly. I really used all that I learned here to translate from ideas into sketches, then build it and do more technical work." She especially used her skills from the sketching and computer classes. "The first language used to communicate ideas is sketching and from there you put them into Photoshop and other computer programs. If I hadn't had the Digital Presentation class, I couldn't have gone to this workshop." Working with designers in a number of different fields was another treat. "It really opened up my mind to other areas of design, and inspired me to keep studying and researching. It started a new network of people [for me]."
Nellie and her group took field trips, including the GM Headquarters which housed a virtual reality room ("it was awesome"), prototype cars and production lines; Fursys office furniture, with automated welding robots, laser fabric cutters and metal bending machinery, and their headquarters and showroom; the fabulous Royal Palace; plus several museums where they saw the work of master cabinet maker Seok-Jin-Jo. "In our furniture course we learn about woods and how to assemble furniture so you really know what you're looking at and when we saw the work of master Seok-Jin-Jo. I was amazed. It was perfection."
After presenting to the fellow designers, moderators, and city officials including Professor Kyung-win Chung, Chief Design Officer of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Jae-Jin-Shim, Chief Executive Officer for the Seoul Design Foundation, they were each presented with a certificate of completion. "There is no winning and losing. We present our projects and they will select from each one what will work best for the city."
Nellie has been inspired by this experience to use more technology in her designs, and to keep studying and researching sustainable design while learning about other countries and traveling. Her very humble design goals have now blossomed into the realization of the endless possibilities in the global arena of design. When asked about her experience, Nellie mentioned, "I am very proud of myself. This was a very unique experience." Nellie also credits her ability to attain her goals and successes to all the support she received from her children and sponsor. Then when asked if she'll ever go back, she nearly jumped out of her chair exclaiming "Of course I'll go back! Being [there] is magical! Asian architecture is magical! Korea is amazing and the people are very kind. I will go back!"
To learn more about the workshop go to:
See a video about the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park at:
And come into the DI library to see The Space for Art book about Zaha Hadid's new design of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.
- DI Details July/August 2014
- DI Details March/April 2014
- DI Details Nov/Dec 2013
- DI Details Fall 2013
- DI Details July/August 2013
- DI Details May/June 2013
- DI Details March/April 2013
- DI Details Jan/Feb 2013
- DI Details Nov/Dec 2012
- DI Details Sept/Oct 2012
- DI Details July/August 2012
- DI Details May/June 2012
- DI Details March/April 2012
- DI Details Jan/Feb 2012
- DI Details Nov/Dec 2011
- DI Details Sept/Oct 2011
- DI Details July/August 2011
- DI Details May/June 2011
- DI Details March/April 2011
- DI Details Fall 2010
- HAVE A SWEET TOOTH? AND LIKE BEER?!
- Opportunity Knocks...on the Other Side of the World
- Wood, fabric, stones...OH MY!
- Sustainability is not the Future, it's the Present.
- Great Events Happening In San Diego and Areas Surrounding
- DI Details July 2010
- DI Details June 2010
- DI Details May 2010
- DI Details April 2010
- DI Details Spring 2010
- DI Details 2008/2009