Shanghai was faster, bigger, and brighter than I could ever have imagined. As not only my first job abroad, but my first experience interning inside a design studio, it was a multitude of new experiences for me. Noah and I were immediately expected to join a project that S.Point had been working on for quite a time and to seamlessly begin to work on it ourselves. We had two days to visit the area the project was covering, get ourselves up to date, research, and then bring our own new ideas back to the Studio. We were tasked with creating a number of concepts for ‘products for tourists’ in the YuYuan Bazaar area. It was interesting just how valued our opinions as foreigners were, and the other designers were keen to learn what we noticed differently to them.
I was heavily inspired by the existing Chinese graphical language that constantly bombarded us from all sides. Brasher, more colourful, less apologetic and in the background than the design we are exposed to in the West. These themes of design I attempted to work into my process, which resulted in some extremely rewarding outcomes and a huge amount of work I can easily use in my portfolio. Having Noah there at S.Point as well meant we were able to work closely on the project together, continuously having feedback on each other’s work and collaborating on designs resulted in stronger work that we eventually pitched for Yuyuan.
As a primarily industrial and product design studio, we found we had to think about our own design in various ways we had not been required to before. It added another layer to my work that I will be able to utilise in the future. It was fascinating to be in a room of such varied designers and to be able to see flashes of a number of different current projects and their progress each day we were there. As the only native English speakers in the studio, we also found ourselves approached by a team working on a product, to help them with the English copy for an advert, and desirable colour schemes. It was a challenge to manipulate their existing copy in order to convey the message as concisely as possible, without losing the character of the copy that it held in Mandarin.
Before visiting Shanghai, I had an extremely narrow knowledge of design and contemporary art and culture in China. Having fully immersed myself for a month, I would consider myself much more well informed. You see a completely different side of somewhere when you work there, far removed from the experience of a tourist. This opportunity was so much more than the usual glimpse into another culture that we are used to experiencing. I am excited to keep in touch with the young designers I met whilst there, and to see where possible future collaborations could take me. Suddenly the thought of moving to another city, another country where I know nobody seems exciting rather than daunting. I had always imagined myself quite probably living somewhere outside of England in the future, but China had never been a country I had considered until now. I would absolutely visit Shanghai again in the future, and would love to see what the rest of the country has to offer too.