July 9, 2020

Amber at work in the Product Design studio

My name is Amber and I’ve just completed my 3 years as an undergraduate Product Design student at Cardiff Met.

When I tried to make a list of my top experiences or things that I’ve taken from my time at Cardiff School of Art and Design (CSAD), I really struggled to narrow it down. As cliché as it sounds, I really do feel like I’ve gained so much during my time at university, from confidence and friendships to experiences and knowledge.

Here are just a few things that stand out:

1. The Community

Amber's coursemates on a night out
A night out with the Product Design crew!

The sense of community at CSAD has always been something comforting that’s made for such an enjoyable experience both within and outside of the studio space.

Through various projects, not only have I got to know and work with others from across all year groups within the Product Design department, but also from other practices too.

Lecturers and technicians have always treated us on a personable level, always willing to help and push to achieve your best with your best interests at heart no matter how much they’ve got on their agenda. There have been multiple times over the years where I’ve been stressed and in need of some extra help or advice with my work and various members of staff have more than happily sat with me to help long past 5pm!

Although the studio spaces are where this sense of community is built and thrives, this expands beyond the university setting where we have organised socials and events for the course to get together and socialise outside of the workspace.

This has always been the perfect ice breaker between year groups, and really enhanced that sense of community. It’s been great to take that back into the studio, and it’s helped make for a really open and welcoming environment. Everybody feels very much at home and is comfortable approaching students from other year groups for help and advice.

2. The Live Projects

Screenshots of Amber's DS Smith project
Some live project work I did with a recycling company called DS Smith

Over my time at CSAD, I have taken part in countless live project opportunities with a wide variety of real-world companies and clients. These projects have spanned everything from 24 hours to 8 weeks in length from the initial briefing to presenting a resolved design solution back to the client.

Live projects are an outstanding opportunity to work with and learn directly from industry. The lovely thing too is that these projects and relationships don’t have to end after that final presentation – often they can continue, potentially leading to factory visits, continued working projects and even internships!

More on the project with DS Smith

3. The Experiences

I have had some amazing experiences during my time at CSAD. One of the highlights was certainly a trip to Africa last summer where a group of students and lecturers from the Product Design course travelled to Namibia, Africa for two weeks to work as part of the IMAGINE Namibia programme.

The project focused on teaching and encouraging entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and design thinking skills to children and communities across the country. We travelled from the capital city of Windhoek to the rural areas of Rundu, and were fortunate to work with and learn from so many amazing children aged 6 – 13.

It was an incredible opportunity that we learned so much from. Of course, it would have been rude not to do some exploring while we were there – school started and finished earlier than in the UK, giving us the perfect opportunity to use the afternoons to make the most of all the wonderful things the country had to offer!

We visited some of the impressive markets, enjoyed the sun and beautiful surroundings, took a river cruise, partook in some cultural activities and of course, went on a safari (or three).

Some highlights of the Product Design Namibia trip

4. The Opportunities

I’ve always appreciated has been the encouragement from staff to be involved with as many opportunities for additional experience as possible outside of the University setting.

This has included everything from charity work and involvement in research to work placements – anything that could provide useful experience and enhance our skillsets. This approach encouraged me to say yes to being involved with so many experiences and opportunities that I would never have had the confidence to get involved in previously.

I can’t thank the Product Design staff enough for their support and encouragement with this. It’s enabled me to channel and combine my design skills with my health and personal experiences, and opened up opportunities for focusing my work in an area that I’m passionate about creating purposeful change within.

My time at Cardiff Met has really helped me improve my personal, professional and life skills – I am definitely going to miss it (that’s if I don’t decide to stay for a masters!) and I encourage everyone to make the most of it and enjoy the opportunities it presents.

Check out more of Amber’s work at her website