Where I'm @
Transformation Design

Reporting from Cape Town

Jade Ruijzenaars
Sat 3 Jun
Function Experience Designer
Year 2016
Major Transformation Design
Practice Commercial Practices

What is your current occupation?

I've been working since February 2017 at Studio H (multidisciplinary design studio by Hannerie Visser), Cape Town, South Africa. Studio H is a multidisciplinary design studio, specialising in experience and brand design.  My job title is junior experience designer and project manager. I'm also further developing my skills as a ceramicist in my free time. I hope to open my own studio within 5 to 10 years. But for now, I'm happy to be gaining work experience while living abroad. I'm not in any hurry.

What is the expertise you gained at the WdKA?

Hmm, that's hard to say, I learned so much there. From theory and critical (self-)reflection to endless experimentation and learning handcraft techniques. Still, I'd have to say the most important is (self-)reflection, which allowed me to discover what I really enjoy doing. Self-reflection means critically examining yourself and the world around you: what's going on, and how do I respond to that? What is my own input? Why do I do what I do? These are questions I'm still always asking myself.

You never leave your house without…? Besides your laptop or smartphone :).

My sketchbook. A cliché of course. Here in Cape Town I always carry a disposable camera, since there are so many beautiful things to see every day. Nature, streets, people, food…

What does the future of your profession look like in your opinion?

You can graduate from the academy as an independent artist or as a creative multidisciplinary professional working for a (commercial) design agency. There is an increasing demand for ‘creative minds’ within a variety of sectors, which in turn provides many opportunities for creative people, whether their orientation is autonomous, social or commercial.

It's interesting to consider how the creative sector can play an increasingly important role in science for example, and how both sectors can benefit from the exchange. We ask different types of questions, we have a different way of looking at the world and we approach problems from a different perspective.  I believe that closer collaboration between these two ‘worlds’ can provide many new opportunities.
Example: my graduation project. As a designer, I was looking for a solution to the amount of waste generated by recently developed automatic industrial systems for shrimp processing.  The fact that I had no knowledge of the scientific aspects of the material, also meant that I approached this material in a different way than a biologist or chemist would have done.

Crangon Crangon

A research about the Dutch shrimp and its industry in today's society, culture, ecology and globalised economy.

The bulk of Dutch shrimp is fished in the Netherlands, transported to Morocco to be peeled (due to lower labour costs) and then shipped back again to Europe for consumption. 60-70% of a shrimp consists of its shell and it is therefore not completely consumed. After the opening of a large peeling centre in Groningen, where shrimps are peeled by machine, there has been a significant local increase in shrimp waste.
For consumers, this production and resulting waste are invisible and they are far removed from the issue. I explored the world of the Dutch shrimp and investigated through material experimentation, producing new applications using the shrimp waste. The project delves into the chemistry and biology of shrimp shells and the valuable substances that can be derived from them. The project shows practical design research, using shrimp waste to form a new effect into a ceramic glaze. The Crangon Crangon shells are a special material that is usually perceived as waste, can be used in a wide range of applications.

Any words of advice to future students?

Don't give up too soon when you don't immediately know what you want, or when you're given an assignment you don't like. No one expects you to know exactly everything you want to achieve through your studies. Focus on what you really enjoy doing, and make sure you have enough time for doing it.  Sometimes I would get so stressed about an assignment, which was a total waste of energy now that I look back. During the final year, I noticed how much I was enjoying working on my own project since I was busy doing things I really liked while at the same time broadening my horizon.
One more bit of advice: if you're doubting whether or not to do an internship or exchange abroad, then, by all means, do it! It costs a lot of energy and it can be quite stressful. But it will broaden your life, your study and your work in so many ways. Step out of your own familiar bubble. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Describe your favourite recent project:

A water project I worked on here in Cape Town with Studio H. We designed a number of installations that included hundreds of water buckets. South Africa is currently facing dramatic water shortages. Dam water levels are less than 20%, which is a huge problem. With this campaign, we tried to raise awareness of the water crisis, and to inspire people to be more ‘water wise’ and less wasteful. The water bucket installations and the information boards with beautiful info-graphics illustrated a number of water-related statistics and tips for saving water. Design for impact: that’s something I believe can actually make a difference.

Favourite recent project

The water bucket installations and the information boards with beautiful info-graphics illustrated a number of water-related statistics and tips for saving water.