Department of Engineering and Design

Student Interview

If you would like to hear more about what it is like to study product design at Sussex, read our interview with final year BSc Product Design student, Tara Jarallah:

Why did you choose your course? 

I was looking for a product design course that offered a range of modules catering for a variety of areas in design, the modules ‘Toy and Game Design’ and ‘Sustainability for Design’ stood out to me as topics I would enjoy. The course Sussex offered included an element of engineering that I believed would provide me with a broad knowledge of the subject. Visiting the university before applying showed me that Sussex had a welcoming and warm atmosphere and that Brighton was a lively and exciting city.

Can you describe a typical working day? 

Most underestimate the intensity of a course like product design. A typical day of final year product design consists of a two-hour lecture in the morning followed by tutorials with our individual project supervisor. Most then stay behind after lectures to work on individual projects in the design studio or meet with team members if working on group multidisciplinary projects. It’s hard work, but I enjoy the challenge.

What have you got out of the course?

The course has taught me many valuable skills, I have learned to work not just individually but as a part of a team, and it has given me the confidence to present my work to colleagues, tutors and external designers from industry. With the varied and challenging project briefs I have been able to vastly improve my graphic, presentation and CAD techniques to effectively communicate my ideas, and develop my own style and thought process. All this makes my work reflective of who I am. 

What were the best bits of the course?

The best bits were the diversity of projects and modules, and being able to explore the different areas of design. Also, meeting design professionals, and getting an insight into their lives and work. Prototyping my work was great fun, it gave me the opportunity to see my designs go from a concept to a physical representation. Finally, working with other designers and engineers in joint projects gave me the chance to meet new people and get a feel of what it would be like to work in industry. 

Do you have any advice for potential students?

Always say yes to design. It can be challenging and stressful but it is also exciting and satisfying. Every project brings something new and pushes you to do your best. Also, you will also meet incredible and interesting people! 

What personal qualities do you think are important for your role?

I think the best personal quality for a designer to have, is to be open-minded, this will allow you to think about design solutions from a totally neutral base with no preconceived notions of where the resolve may come from. Also, the ability to take criticism, use it productively and not take it personally. 

Have you faced any challenges getting to where you are now?

Each project I am given is a challenge because each one is different and thus requires different thought patterns, different ideas and different research. Perhaps this is what makes design so unique. I know a lot of people underestimate what design is. It has this perceived nature that its just about making things look good and frequently trying to explain to others that this is not the case is a difficult task. In design there is never a correct answer. 

What skills do you think you need?

The ability to think outside of the box! Having that initial and sometimes wild vision. Lots of people get embarrassed by their sketching abilities and this prevents them pursuing a career in design. We aren’t all perfect designers, and with time these things will improve. If you know you have ideas in your head that need showing, don’t be scared to get them out there. 

What single piece of advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps?

Pursue your dreams… as a friend of mine said to me: Impossible is nothing. 

What impact do designers have on society?

Although we frequently think that political leaders have shaped the world we live in, when you take a moment to think about it, you realize that the world we live in today has actually been shaped by designers. From the everyday products that we use, through to the transport systems, designers have been central to its development. Although engineers can make things work, designers have the vision. Designers strive to improve the relationship between people and product. Its all very well making something that works, but what if the consumers can’t understand it?