ALP – A week at ZJU

24 May

By Seow Chun Yong

Whew, already a week has passed?! That was fast. We finally started our ALP proper. First major announcement to us was that themes 1,3, and 4 were now merged into one big design group, and we were to divide ourselves into 4 groups. Each group would select either an electric fan, a power plug, an iron, or a coffee machine, as their design task. My group chose to design electric fans.

First off, we were all tasked to practice our sketching skills. We were also introduced to four design inspirations: Biomimicry, behavioral mimicry, cultural mimicry, and random mimicry. By Friday, we had to come up with at least 2 design ideas related to our chosen home appliance per one of the four design inspirations.

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Today came, and we were all eager to share our sketches and ideas with the people from ZJU.

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While all our ideas were really awesome and novel, we found that it wasn’t exactly what the ZJU professor (Yin Shifu/Laoshi) wanted. He metaphorically stabbed our ideas, saying that we were selling them like engineers. Instead, we should be selling the design process as a designer. No doubt, he said, that the ideas were really wonderful. He wanted us to sell, not describe. We needed to help tell a story and make people want our product. He used several colorful examples such as the idea of a comb and that of a lipstick.

Today (that is Friday), was exhausting. Partly because I was presenting in Chinese (the horror!), but mostly because I fell like I learnt something through failing, through trying to do something instead of sitting in a classroom or a lecture theater listening about how to do design. They told us it will only get tougher and there will be more work. But many of us welcome the challenge. We really enjoy sketching and pitching our ideas, and the more we do it, we can only get better! Also, we were told that by the end of 2 months, we should each have about 500 sketches each. Looking forward to becoming quite the artist/sketcher by the end of ALP.

Hooray! It’s the weekend! And a couple of us are heading to Shanghai!!

Also, here is how we do laundry in a hotel room. (The washing machines are in ZJU, and it’s about a kilometer from our hotel)

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