Appreciation from external experts
By Pepijn Verburg
Throughout the years our design and engineering studio has collaborated with Emma multiple times. Often collaboration between students and industry is a challenge on three topics: (1) decision making and stakeholder management, (2) prototype fidelity, (3) professionalism. With Emma this was never a challenge, and she has shown immense growth over the years on these topics which I will elaborate on below.
First, it was delighting to see how naturally Emma was able to translate design problems to concrete concepts within complex contexts with multiple stakeholders. Decision making in design for the sake of good design along with prioritising for the sake of time and budget is a fine balance within the industry and is often out of balance within academics. Managing stakeholders along this fine balance is a design trait that is very hard to train for during the studies. It feels like Emma has a natural talent for this due to the fact she wants to quickly make things that have meaningful impact and align with the priorities stakeholders might not even know about themselves. This shows in-depth understanding of what a design process should look like.
The drive to make impactful things very much relates to the second point about the prototype fidelity. Often with innovation projects we do as a studio scaling from one to multiple prototypes is easier said than done. The project ‘Doen of Waarheid’ by Emma has exactly this scaling that is often so hard to pull off: multiple prototypes that can break, multiple users that use the same web-based system at the same time, etc. The prototypes themselves can still be improved physically to use tooling that are a bit closer to tools for manufacturing, but the integration and web-based service around it is up to industry standards and can be developed further immediately. What also helps is the fact the prototypes simply look beautiful and finished. Especially within the context of ‘Doen of Waarheid’, it is so important end-users want to put this in a central place in their homes after unboxing it from a nicely finished transportation package and embed it in their daily lives. The general rule of thumb that the last 20% of the work takes up to 80% of the time really shows here and Emma has succeeded to manage her time appropriately to really go the extra mile in delivering a scaled-up high-fidelity prototype.
Finally, I want to highlight the professionalism Emma has shown throughout the years. Often there were challenges she couldn’t directly solve herself and she required experts to give advice on specific topics. When reaching out to experts from our studio it was never the question like ‘I need a back-end, can you help?’, which is a common way of framing a question by students. It was on a whole other level where the question was about ‘I need to manage proper data authorisation for my users, because multiple people are going to use the system at the same time. Do you have advice what tools are useful for this that are as close as possible to production quality?’. This shows dedication, but most importantly fundamental understanding about the topic at hand. Designers should not be trained to know everything and do everything themselves, but to reach out the right expertise, at the right time, with the right questions, with the right fundamental knowledge. I’m impressed to see that Emma has been able to master this skill at such a stage in her design career.
All in all, it has been a pleasure working together and we hope to see more, or be part, of Emma’s amazing work in the future!