Design at VUW

I hope you didn’t think I fell off the face of the earth!

It’s been almost two months since I landed in New Zealand, isn’t that crazy? I have been super inactive here on this blog because school became very hectic very fast. The semesters here are almost five weeks shorter than they are back home, so a lot of the projects progress very quickly, something we weren’t really expecting. However the design school here is very interesting, and very different than back home. We are currently in two 3rd year studio courses, one which goes over designing for people and using observation and testing to do so, and one which is pushing us to research and experiment with innovative technologies and bio-based materials to create a futuristic product. The students here have much more knowledge of 3D printing, while back home we focus on technical sketching and hand modeling. I welcome the change in perspective, because our school has a very specific way of teaching Industrial Design, and it’s wonderful to see how different people can view it and teach it.

I’d like to show you two of my projects, which I have greatly enjoyed working on.

Tangible Interaction Design

Project 1: Methods for Interaction Design

Designing for the user is important, and it can be tricky finding ways to observe and collect data without being obtrusive. For this project we were to observe and study the experience of someone buying a cup of coffee at a cafe. From that we were to design a product or an interaction that would make that experience better in any way. We began by observing a participant, giving them a cultural probe (an “assignment” that would let the participant think about their experiences in a fun and interesting way), and then interviewing them.

My participant pointed out that the environment was important to her, but that she didn’t always remember to bring a reusable cup to a cafe, so I decided to focus on redesigning the common disposable cup to make it more environmentally friendly.


My design was a paper cup, but instead of the plastic being sprayed on and lining the inside of the paper, the plastic was a removable piece that could be easily removed and recycled. Regular paper cups are not easily recycled, because separating the plastic and the paper is a difficult process, so separating them initially makes the entire cup 100% compostable. The lining also tapers at the bottom, creating insulation and protecting your hand from the heat of the drink.

You can view my interaction video here:


Project 1: Space

This is a first year design course which we decided to take as an elective, and it is proving to be very fun and informative. Our topic for this project was “Space,” which was intentionally vague. We were to build a narrative using 6-12 photos. I decided to focus on public space, specifically the area around the waterfront on a sunny and very busy day. I wanted to capture moments that showed how people navigate through public space while in a group or in a crowd, and also how people can have intimate individual moments while their in this large public space. I decided to shoot in black and white because the colors in this are are very vibrant and beautiful, and that took away from the subjects of the photos.

The series begins with groups of people, focusing on how they move and take up space together, and then transitions to individual moments within crowded areas, and then finishes with very solitary moments within wide open spaces.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



  1. Helen Palacio · March 29

    I will give you an A+ on the projects! Awesome work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anni · March 29

    Love reading your updates, your photos are beautiful! I have no idea what you are talking about sometimes but if you ever need help doing your taxes, I’m your lady. Love you and miss you always, keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leisa Odom-Kurtz · March 30

    Great work Dana! I am personally super interested in your work from an aesthetic and creative point of view and as a possible major for Lydia! Would love to take you to lunch when you’re back and have you talk to Lydia!


  4. Cece Lotierzo · March 30

    Love you work and thanks for sharing. I truly enjoy seeing what your doing.


  5. Cece Lotierzo · March 30

    Love your work!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s