In the beginning I thought that these three years of this bachelor programme are too short, too rushed. Now when I think back of what has impacted me I realise that the journey has been short but highly influential in how I position myself as a designer.
Even before I started my studies, I changed my direction in the last minute from industrial to interaction design. I conceded that I was more interested in everything about a topic, except its shape. That could take any form and be any medium, as long as it articulates and conveys the message. During my studies the theory and practical courses, fellow students, lecturers, and all the people at ZHdK showed me the scope of what design can be. I began to experiment with more abstract topics, away from my initial perception what interaction design is, and focused on a more experimental approach. Away from a product oriented mindset towards a design approach that aims to observe, mediate and inquire. I was intrigued with materials and the intimate interaction they provide and their ability to mediate complex issues, although this field may have been very abstract and difficult to navigate in the beginning.
In my year abroad in Hong Kong, I had the opportunity to work with people from different fields and cultures. It was one of the most enriching things. The people I met introduced me to a new world, where I came in contact with unknown fields. In the first half of this year in Hong Kong, I learned about student activism, different ways of thinking and working, how to live in a city on the other side of earth, to acknowledge and reconnect to my Asian roots and how to deal with more existential questions. I returned to Hong Kong in the second half of this year and pursued personal projects with new friends. I was invited to join two activist groups, one concerned about the eviction of a farming village and the other concerned about the rights of detained ethnic minorities and asylum seekers. I spent some time with the villagers, stayed at their homes and shared their food that I helped harvest from their land. Although I only got a glimpse into their world, I witnessed a resistance forming against the robbery of their land. A resistance that could form an inclusive, non-hierarchical, feminist rural movement, decolonial healing in the making. I realised that the eviction of this village was a symptom of a failing neocolonialist state. It seems Asia is still left in the shadow of its colonial history and the internalised colonial logic, seeing nature as something that needs to be defeated and made profitable. Two of my close friends in this activist group are like me product designers by training. Could this be a path for myself too? To use my skills towards social contribution? Solidarity and environmental justice for all the marginalised people in the world.