You’ll create the future but also be covered in glue. WGSN Director of Footwear and Accessories Jacqui Ma – a product design graduate – reveals what to expect
You’re artistic and you want to create, but you eventually want to work on objects that range from the everyday to the mind-bendingly futuristic. So, what do you study? Product design. It’s a degree you can do so much with plus basically every industry has a need for someone like you.
However, before you sign away up to four years of your life, here are 10 things you need to know about the (mostly brilliant) reality of the course…
1. It’s quite important you enjoy drawing and if you like drawing cubes, even better. Why? You’ll spend a lot of time perspective drawing – particularly in first year.
2. Glue fingers are your everyday #struggle. It’s literally everywhere – your hands are characterised by some degree of stickiness for the entire course. Also, you’re covered in sawdust and paint. If it’s on the workshop floor, it’s on you.
3. You’re kind of grouped together with the architecture students which fosters a very unique passive aggressive rivalry. They’re wearing black turtlenecks convinced they’re the coolest, you’re in your most impressive cycling gear thinking the same. And yes, both those archetypal descriptions are actually true to life.
4. You’ll be tasked with carving domestic products which you take immense pride in. Don’t be surprised to find yourself trawling through a skip to find an electrical cord. Only when you have this will your wooden hand blender be finished and ready to present…
5. …because presentation is a big deal! Immediately after you’ve carved the best wooden electrical appliance that ever was, you have to explain it to your course mates who then rank you. Which is nice (it’s not).
6. You become incredibly preoccupied with the ergonomics of literally everything.
7. Ethics is a big part of your thought process. Creating another chair just to create another chair is a terrible idea.
8. You get to work with huge, massive machines! The type of machines you could lose limbs on! Which is exhilarating (but also, in retrospect, quite terrifying).
9. You learn the hard way that sanding and chatting leads to heartbreak. Absentminded sanding for a second longer than necessary = an object that’s too small/the wrong shape = starting all over again.
10. There’s so much you can do afterwards. Want to work for Nike? Easy. Design furniture? Go ahead. Create Google’s next big product? Do it. Everyone needs product designers – you’ll design the future.
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