Charlotte Allen

Charlotte Allen

Kingston University

I have always felt that China would shape my career as a designer.


I’ve always imagined myself living and working in London as a Designer, but as I’ve matured and having lived in London for the past year and a half, I’ve realised that there are so many other fascinating, unique cities and schools of thought in the world that can offer exciting opportunities for me as a designer.  None more so than Shanghai. China is home to many influential artists and designers such as Ai Wei Wei and Sun Kai Qiang, who both convey strong socio-political messages in their work. Chinese art is something I have been interested in for many years, and I have always felt that China would shape my career as a designer. 

As a Kingston University student I feel I am a committed, passionate and driven student. I play Hockey for the Women’s University team, and I have also been a student Ambassador for all of the open days during my first year at the University. I have inter-railed around Europe twice, traveling has opened my eyes and really broadened the way I think, not only as a person but as a designer as well.


Crystal Tech was a rewarding, memorable and challenging experience. We were thrown into the deep end with nobody being able to speak English, however, the internship presented a situation that I had never experienced before. Being a designer, communication is a vital aspect of that, so for me, I saw this as a positive, and that I would gain a lot from it.

During our time at Crystal we were assigned a project in which we worked on a proposal for the Hangzhou water conservation project. The theme of the project was water and we were assigned 6 sections, all with a different theme. Tess (Smith-Roberts) and I were given complete freedom to present ideas for each section. They pushed for installations, lights and digital media outcomes. For every idea we presented I had to mock up what the exhibition would look like in SketchUp, a 3D CAD software, this was really exciting as I have strong interests in CAD and wanted to develop my skills.

The internship was eye opening as we gained an insight into exhibition design for a Chinese audience, which surprised and challenged us. We proposed ideas but John the Creative Director spoke about how these are more western ideas and needed to be altered to suit the Chinese way of going round an exhibition. We had to start to consider elements within the exhibition design for a Chinese audience. We were also given the opportunity to visit Nicole’s (a new designer working at Crystal) own studio, which she shared with her tutors. It was a slow start in terms of communication, but eventually, we were having meetings which were being translated into Chinese and then back into English, all discussing and developing ideas for the exhibition. It was really exciting and rewarding by the end of it, to know that Tess and I had finished a months internship with nobody speaking English, but completing an extensive and Chinese led body of work. Something that I would not have experienced working at a more Western organisation.

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