When people have asked my how Shanghai was I find it hard to describe, it’s a city of almost indescribable proportions and the month long experience I had there was just so full on top of the culture difference compared to England, I don’t know how to describe it without telling people it’s something they have to see it for themselves. Coming back to England, for the first few days I was comparing everything to Shanghai, saying how it was different or bigger or faster. Shanghai has opened my eyes to a completely different culture of design, in terms of graphic style, the mentality which focuses on the user and the finished product of a project and the importance and difficulty of making a product appeal to a multicultural audience.
Working at S.point, Harriet and I were teamed up to create a product for tourists based around Yu Gardens, which is a big tourist spot in Shanghai with a temple, gardens and surrounding shopping area which are all traditional looking. I expected to be working on more menial tasks and only following orders but this brief was extremely open and I was happy that they genuinely respected our opinion. I respected all the feedback we got and I found very useful with the project, we ended up with a pitch for multiple different tourist products. This was a great experience as it allowed me to improve my graphic design and research skills whilst considering a Chinese market for these products. I learnt a lot of things from the people at S.point, the friends we made and the experiences of working on a project in the real world.
I was impressed at how international S.point was and I think that made it easier to work there as everyone could speak English and it was so interesting to see how a bilingual office communicated and worked together. I have realised how important it is to have people from different cultures working together as it means everyone brings fresh insights and opinions that might otherwise be missed. Working somewhere as big as S.point and being another cog in the machine was interesting to and meant I got to see how projects and tasks were divided and how having all different types of designers, graphic, industrial and UI all working together is a great thing for collaboration and a good work environment. One thing that I noticed is different about design at S.point is that it is very user focused which I like, I was also reminded of all the cultural design differences in the meaning of colour palettes and imagery. I want to thank S.point and everyone working there for being a part of TTI and giving Harriet and I the opportunity to intern there and feel part of the family for a lovely 4 weeks.
One of my favourite places in Shanghai was the Power station of Art and I particularly loved their exhibitions branding which I found was done by a studio based in Amsterdam called Thonik. They noticed a picture we posted of their branding in the TTI Instagram page and got in contact with us. I knew and liked their work already and after some emails and interviews I landed an internship with them in the coming year, I’m sure my links with China helped with this. I can tell that the insights I have gained from my TTI experience and particularly my internship at S.point will be useful when interning at Thonik and throughout the rest of my career and life. China is becoming a bigger player in the design world and thanks to TTI I have a connection to China and first hand experience working in Shanghai. Working at S.point was my first internship and I feel a lot of the lessons I learnt there will reaffirm themselves later in life as I intern at design studios in Europe and begin to draw comparisons between western and Chinese design practices.
I felt at home very quickly, things became natural even though they were so unusual to my London lifestyle, passing the same people and places on the way to work became a routine which on the first day blew my mind, but I still kept an element of childlike amazement everywhere we went. Living in Shanghai not as a tourist but like a local was something I tried do at all times and I think improved the experience, it showed a whole new side to Shanghai past what a normal tourist might normally see. It’s a side of the normal everyday life of people, seeing kids asleep in a fruit store open at 3am, seeing scooters driving round an indoor stationary market and people drying their clothes on poles sticking out their window on the 40th floor, It’s the small things I will remember about Shanghai. The language barrier was slightly alienating but also freeing, I spoke very little Mandarin and most people spoke very little English, this is one thing I would’ve liked to have changed, so I could have spoken t more people and understood more of what was happening but everyone got by just fine. Before TTI, I would never have imagined working or living in China but now it doesn’t seem so far fetched. I am so thankful I got to go on this journey with a lovely bunch of people, I felt we really were a family while in Shanghai and they made every second exciting and were so great to live and work and have fun with.