Quite a few years ago I began my academic studies at HIT-Holon Institute of Technology. When I try to recall the experience known as “a student’s life”, a lot of sensations, emotions, and longing rise to the surface.
So, what are the implications of being a design student?
The workshop – a building containing large numbers of machines, tools, and materials – is every product design student’s heart and home. It is where I spent most of the hours of every day, most of time enveloped in a cloud of sawdust, among other things.
I remember we would order pizza at 20:00, and all the students would take a break and sit to eat together, then continue working until midnight, till “lights out”. On more than one occasion I stayed in the workshop a little longer, even though everything was already dark, because I was in the middle of a process.
For me the workshop was like a toy store for a child, this really cool place where products are born, my fellow students’ and mine. Nothing compares to moments of collaboration and mutual assistance, when you join forces and help a fellow student in their product development process.
A lot of emotions and feelings rise to the surface in the workshop – success, anxiety, frustration, helplessness, breakthroughs, and especially creativity. In the workshop I experienced tears of success and tears of frustration.
Before every submission, your head automatically shifts into a different mode. Sleep deprivation, heavy workload, and a desire to create an all-inclusive experience in time, a product that has everything it needs.
Standing in front of the whole class and being able to accurately convey the essence of the product, knowing how to accept constructive criticism, and at times contain negative criticism that makes you want to disappear, when this situation catches us after long, sleepless hours and considerable pressure. In design, failure and success are experienced in front of the whole class, you can’t fake it!
After our submission presentations, we’d all feel deflated, but soon after I’d have to pick myself up, find the strength to focus, because there’s another project or product I had to work on.
Discussions, sketches, models, dialogue, collaboration, mutual enrichment, listening to all the students… In a conventional situation I’d call these classes “learning en route”, the journey towards a product that will be born from an idea, a topic, and a problem. Hours of research, deep and lateral observation, loads of learning and listening, tools, and modes of action. For me, the classes were a place of sharing and mutual enrichment, and the instructors and lecturers were a source of inspiration and growth.
The hours outside the faculty
Ask any design student if they’ve got a life, and the answer will probably be – No. Attending classes is mandatory, they begin in the morning and end in the afternoon, and then the students usually stay on in the workshop to continue working. On several occasions I found myself without food in the fridge simply because I hadn’t found the time to go grocery shopping, and certainly not to cook. Moreover, there’s so much equipment and materials to purchase ahead of new projects, and I had to calculate my expenses carefully and wisely.
I missed home and my extended family a great deal, and couldn’t always find the time to come home because I had to take advantage of the weekends to work and create.
Relationship and marriage as a student couple
When I began studying for my degree, I was already married to Ilan. We went through our academic studies together. We faced the difficulties and pressures of maintaining a home, and other challenges, as a student couple at the start of their life together.
Ilan was my anchor, my perspective, a warm embrace, and my faith in myself. I can’t imagine how I would have survived without him. Containing me as a design student was definitely a challenge.
Now that my design studies are behind me, and I’ve been engaged in the field for about six years, it’s time, as far as I’m concerned, to do something for the place in which I grew, and which helped me to become who I am today.
From personal experience, the studies are not easy or simple, and demand considerable mental resources. I remember how hard it was to wait for that long-anticipated idea to come, and I can but try to encourage you, and also remind you: stop for a moment, breathe, and observe it all from the outside.
Wishing you every success in whichever creative path you choose to take,