Current Student Research

Muhammad Ali Butt

Visual Communication Design

The fodder that a creative's mind feeds upon is very much a result of their surroundings, but to what extent? How far do circumstances drive the mind's creative production? Is a person riddled with hindrances all the more productive because of them? Would a very happy person be less creative because he may not have as strong an incentive? These are questions that I seek answers to.

Growing up in Pakistan is an experience that gives a constant feeling of being under a watchful eye, making one learn to be 'careful', and never project what is outside of the social construct. This, however, also piques the observant side in a person, as it did with me.

Being in an alert state of mind, I began to notice the people around myself in a new light. Seeing injustice bothers me greatly, and the streets of my country have proven there is a lot to bother about. This closed mindedness of society has been my trigger for some time. I have realized that a lot of my work stems from this inability to express myself openly. So, I tend to channel out some of these emotions through my work, and the question I become faced with is that when does the possibility of these distresses lessen, and what role could I play in that?

Here is where I feel foreign academic training could really help me because, having been taught by some faculty members with foreign degrees, I noticed that their way of teaching and understanding design was very different than anything I had experienced previously. Since then, I have a wish to gain a similar level of insight into design, by making the most use of a foreign qualification, studying among students and teachers from all sorts of diverse backgrounds and intellects, and learning and practicing design through a new, fresh perspective.

The Master of Visual Communication Design course in the University of Alberta's postgraduate programs seems to be designed keeping the global shifts and trends of design in mind, which is a great plus point, and this being a degree that would be recognized globally, make applying here a sensible decision. The two year duration of the program, coupled with the industry knowledge and experience that I have collected over the past two years of my working as a professional, should help me become more centered to my work.

Canada, being a completely new terrain for me, provides me with a host of learning possibilities and opportunities. In the way that I have observed injustices and limitations in my own society, it will be intriguing to explore and find out what my interest would latch onto in a more accepting environment, and how I would design my work around it. The sort of characteristics I would notice in a society that is known to be a peaceful, polite, and tolerant, and how my creative instinct gets affected by this culture shock, where every person is free to express themselves and live as they wish to, will be an enlightening experience.

But the most important thing to wonder is how this experience could potentially change me as a person. Would I become ignorant to the issues that plagued me back home if my own issues were resolved, culminating into a personal strife, or will it make me more resistant, tougher and confident enough to become part of the select few who are trying to change the rhetoric.

Anna Chakravorty

Visual Communication Design

Through attention to the minutest of detail, functionality is what I strive for. In my journey as a visual designer, I've always sought to (re)evaluate and assimilate concepts thereby, reinforcing my understanding of 'good' design. After graduating from NIFT, India, I worked as user interface and experience designer for two years which made me realise my inclination towards digital mediums. My motivation for pursuing a master's degree is I want to explore the confluence of culture with design and technology. Rapid advancement without moral accountability has led to the demise of local communities (and culture), gradually wiping out indigenous arts and crafts and hence I feel it is upon us to initiate an appropriate effort for the preservation and promotion of such intricate knowledge. My idea is to explore how digital mediums can be used as an effective way of communication for promoting tourism and culture. In conclusion, a structured program that lays down the fundamentals of design and the applicability of them in this fast-changing landscape is what draws me to this course. Bringing design to the forefront of innovation and keeping myself updated with the changes around, under the mentorship of the faculty will certainly provide me with the skill set needed to implement my ideas, ones that are not only limited to functional design but those that are sustainable, both economically and socially.

Dongjun Li

Industrial Design

During the undergraduate period, I learned so much from various courses, some of which aroused my passion towards design, and some of which improved my professional quality. With more and more in-depth study, I gradually changed my understanding about industrial design. I realized that designers not only solved the pains, but also delivered the attitude of share. I used to superficially think that industrial designers are to solve problems so that I spent most time to solve problems in life. However, it is more important to find out the real problem after going deep into the industry. In most cases, we could not really solve problems, what we can do is to arouse people's attention to the problem or improve their enthusiasm on this problem. I truly believe design is to deliver our attitudes, so as to change people's way of life. Nevertheless, the most of design methods I have learned still considers the design from perspective in visceral level and behaviour level, instead of creating more positive and pleasant reflection level. Facing with such reality, I resolutely and determinedly decide to pursue a master's degree, in order to gather more knowledge and experience. My research interests are building the cohort of working with people from different background. Designers may face with bigger challenge, because the elements of design are more diverse while the demands of the market are vaguer. I think there exists some gaps between design, business, and technology, leading to failure. An interdisciplinary team can be helped to extend thinking. Knowledge can be gained in all-round perspective with people from different backgrounds. I want be an interdisciplinary designer to stand at the frontier of design. University of Alberta has excellent interdisciplinary design resources, with which I can cooperate with people having the background in different subjects. Then I can propose more conceptual design views in the field of forward-looking concepts of industrial design based on more design experiments. I believe studying here with my above abilities will be beneficial to both my personal and academic growth.

Chandni Luhadiya

Industrial Design

Response to stimuli - a natural instinct found in all living beings, forms the cornerstone of our conduct and lifestyle. This is the nucleus of all my designs. The design space is constantly changing and I want to respond to that change by reinforcing human-environment interaction at the rudimentary level.

Intrigued by the idea of how a well designed space can transform human life, I pursued Interior design for my bachelors degree. Later, I graduated with an advanced diploma in design to foster my design acumen. I learned how a space is crafted according to the requirements of an individual, and worked on a multitude of residential and commercial design projects. Following my post graduation, I interned at one of the premier design institutes in India, Industrial Design Centre (IDC) at IIT Bombay, where I worked on furniture design projects.

I have more than 3 years of professional experience in the field of Interior, furniture, and graphic design. After understanding the practical aspects of design in last 3 years, I am driven to solve design problems ergonomically at fundamental level. I believe in developing personalized and unique furniture designs which provide a diverse experience to the users and are interactive at the same time.

Efficiently designed furniture can offer modularity and multi-functionality through sustainable development. This demands extensive research & University of Alberta's historic setting, flawlessly structured curriculum and comprehensive research environment would accentuate my design prowess.

I am certain that interdisciplinary approaches and guidance of eminent supervisors at University of Alberta will establish a strong platform for me to enter the professional world of industrial design & would act as a positive augmentation for all my future endeavors in this field.

Raheel Malkan

Visual Communication Design

Data requires to be complex and extensive but the process of its comprehension does not. Information is so omnipresent and easily available to us today, we no longer are concerned about its accessibility. Our need rather has evolved to seek increased comprehension of any information in a short span of time. Visualizing data sets, rich with meaning and nuance has helped me address this need beautifully.

My work stems at the intersection of Data & Design. How does one re-create a tangible narrative derived out of the complexities of maps, graphs, tables and the like? In my sophomore year of undergraduate studies an installation I built for the Mathematics of Planet Earth, visualized the exponential spread of the epidemic SARS from China to the rest of the world. The structure built of glass, string and light accurately mapped the exact number of cases in all affected countries.

Data sets can be overwhelming however when re-imagined in a visual / tangible form, can reveal narratives that the reader would have missed otherwise. My interest lies in the creation of these visual narratives and in the process to expose myself to a new piece of information, idea, story with each passing project.

Elaheh Alizadeh Rabiei

Industrial Design

I have been collaborating with different organizations and companies as an industrial and graphic designer for 10 years. Studying graphic design at fine arts school and moving to industrial design at the university have laid the ground for me to be more experienced and understanding of individuals and their concerns and desires in the everyday life. On the other hand, the problems the world encounters with health care, environment and social interactions have triggered me to pursue my academic goal further and never stop learning new things. In my Bachelor of Art thesis, I gave solutions to enhance the moving process, based on human-centered design by personal observations, conducting surveys on ergonomic principles based on OWAS system, interviewing with owners and the companies all over the country of Iran. The final concept turned into a product which could improve the process of moving with the least danger to the operator and to related items. Along with my academic studies, I started to work as an industrial designer in several companies with different fields, "stationary, Furniture, Electronic and food industry". Working on design field was a remarkable opportunity for me to expand my knowledge and experience on my environment. I always wanted to become a part of a skillful and professional team in higher educational level to improve my studies and my experiences in design field. In order to solve and alleviate environmental, social, medical and economic issues, I must be more qualified and skilled in industrial design and have more research experience on these fields. This is why I have applied to University of Alberta, Department of design, where I believe by working under supervision of its great professors and distinguished faculty members, I can achieve my academic and career objectives. In addition, I am so determined to pursue my graduate studies in a school with strong business objectives, which provides a situation for students to experience real projects and prepares a critical occasion by working under supervision of real companies. Alberta, by considering global development and upcoming needs and issues and demand for innovation, provides a unique opportunity for graduate students to collaborate in multidisciplinary design team on real world project. As a result it will fuel my journey towards success as I will add this amazing experience to my professional and personal life. I am deeply enthusiastic about doing research on fields of Medical Design, Sustainable Design and Interaction Design.

Yiwen Zhou

Visual Communication Design

As a designer, I believe that the design process, bridging gaps between people and virtually everything around them, should involve creating and presenting textures, because texture helps design practices and their final outcomes appeal to multiple senses, such as tactility, vision, and smell. In addition, as a visual communication designer, my belief is that the aesthetic aspect should receive the same amount of attention as the information a design piece conveys. I appreciate the eye-catching features of a design work, which can draw viewers' attention at the first glance and then inspire further interests. Pursuing my visions has led me to apply traditional art media such as watercolour, ink, charcoal, painting and printmaking, to my previous projects I did during my undergraduate study in the University of Alberta, rather than only relying on working digitally. From those touchable processes and the qualities I embrace by applying the actual traditional art media, I see a quality of steadiness in such traditional mediums. However, during the age of network information explosion, this sense of steadiness remaining in the traditional print publications seems much more precious. Therefore, in my graduate study, I will focus on book design: how can the roles and formats of book design positively influence and preserve the lastingness of print publications. From here, by researching, analyzing, creating, and summarizing the information about the current situations of print publications, I hope to support tangible book design products. As well as, I firmly believe that book design can be valued more as a significant component composing a positive prospect for print publications.