For me, design is the bridge between personal interpretations of the world and an highly accessible and versatile outcome. Design is where my expressive, explorative and visual foundations found a highly practical application. Although creative, I am a stickler for method and problem solving, and so design provides a happy median between expression and functionality. This too is where making intertwines, as the journey of development calls for a physical interaction with my ideas. It is this greater sense of connection, intimacy and (eventually) resolve with my ideas, that causes making to be so fundamental to my practice.

Post university, I wish to live a life of learning and fluidity. I want to accumulate a greater range and depth of making skills, whilst learning about and developing sustainable methods of living. I also want to renovate and live in a van – I can’t possibly imagine being able to decide on and settle in one place at the moment, and so a home on wheels would give me the freedom I need (as well as an excellent place to practise and demonstrate my making).

For the initial project of the final year of my degree (BA), I undertook a brief focussing on ‘Product Longevity’. I believe that as designers we have a responsibility to make conscious, sustainable decisions that underpin and flow throughout our practice – we quite simply do not have to time or the resources to produce ill-considered outcomes. My project focussed on food packaging disposability and the incredible reliance people have on single use, convenience culture. Ironically, the very items that could be utilised to overcome this reliance – reusable containers/tupperware – achieve very little emotional and functional longevity. From there I set out to provide consumers with a range of vessels that empowered and enriched the rituals of eating pre-prepared food on the move. I was also aware of providing objects that although utilitarian, could quite easily be ornamental or used for display within the home. My vision is to illustrate that there are alternative ways of performing tasks and interacting with objects that may well contribute to a good quality of life for all – consuming consciously does not have to mean compromise!

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Product shots of Beatrix Bray’s vessel design.

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Product design sketches by Beatrix Bray.

If I were to label myself, I would probably state that I am “a creative” as I enjoy a multitude of both utilitarian, speculative and expressive outputs. My practice is not a job, it is the way I think and live. It spans throughout my life.

In my opinion, women are severely out numbered within most fields – design being one of them. The imbalance within design is peculiar as I feel the approach is much more neutral and up for interpretation than say engineering, however the environments themselves are still fairly male dominated which may prove stifling for some women. The field is also highly competitive and closely linked to industrial manufacture – both of which can discourage a large range of people, whatever gender.

My advice for others entering the profession:

  • Familiarise yourself with the society and world into which your products/outcomes will be placed. The pace of life and the transitions we are currently experiencing are pivotal and hugely important. We as designers/makers/creatives need to act consciously, as we wield great power in terms of positive change and influence.
  • Stay true to your visions, as ultimately they will be what lead you to fulfilment.
  • Don’t be afraid of being wrong it is how we learn and develop.
  • If you feel like a project is becoming convoluted or bogged down, strip it back and turn it on its head – simplicity is often the solution.

 

My biggest learning curve externally is the scale of influence design can have on the world (good and bad), and how it isn’t being harnessed to its fullest potential to create the positive, sustainable change we need. Internally, I found making to be much more core to me than when I initially began designing. I can’t and won’t sit at a desk, inputting forms into CAD for someone else (unless of course the cause outweighs the sacrifice).