February 11, 2020

Eliza Fraser-Mackenzie

My first taste of working in the industry began even before I graduated, during the first term of my final year studying Textile design at Cardiff Met.

We took part in a live brief presented to us by IG Design Group, an international greetings company that designs and produces products for the gifting and stationary markets. We had to produce our own gift collection based on a theme of our choice and pitch it to the visiting designers from the company.

This opportunity taught me valuable lessons on meeting deadlines, fulfilling briefs and presenting a professional body of work which undoubtedly prepared me for my final degree show.

Whilst still in my third year, before I had begun my final project, I was given the opportunity to exhibit at New Designers which is held annually in London and allows recent design graduates to showcase their work to the industry.

It was the perfect place to interact with other designers, be inspired and get valuable advice from industry professionals. By taking part in this exhibition we were automatically considered for a number of prizes.

Considering the enormous amount of talent on display I was not expecting to be shortlisted for a prize, let alone win one. To my surprise I went on to be shortlisted for the New Designers Epson Textile Visionary Award and won an AVA CAD CAM training award, as well as being voted as one of their Top Ten to Watch.

The AVA course was a week long, held in their head office in Macclesfield. There were two of us, both from Cardiff Met, so we had a lot of focused time with our trainer. AVA CAD CAM is an industry standard comprehensive textile design software, which is used by professional designers to take their designs from inception to print.

The really interesting and useful part of the course was learning about the technical processes of colour separation and the different methods of industrial printing. This has since proved useful for my first freelance project for a Zimbabwean interior designer.

After graduating I was approached by an interior designer to do a custom fabric design for a Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe on a freelance basis. The design was approved by the lodge and I am currently sampling different print techniques and fabrics – they need to be durable and have good wash fastness. I hope to continue collaborating with this interior designer in the future on her other hotel projects in Africa.

In conjunction with this project, I have continued multiple web design coding courses which I begun studying part-time before I left university, as well as courses in AutoCAD and 3D rendering software.

This is partly due to the professional practice lecture series at Cardiff Met. This focused on branding and packaging ourselves as professional designers, and motivated me to acquire a broader range of digital skills alongside my degree in order to be more adaptable across all areas of a business. My dissertation was also about starting an online business, and encompassed the idea of being a multi-faceted designer with digital skills from design to marketing and branding, as well as having the necessary financial skills.

Overall, I feel that my time at Cardiff Met has given me the opportunities and skills required to begin a successful career in Digital Design.

Check out our 2019 CSAD Summer Degree Show video featuring some of Eliza’s final project work: