"One of the most fascinating things about Digital Design is how ubiquitous it is, and how seamlessly it enters our daily lives. Everything we do is mediated via apps and websites, from taking a walk to romance, it opens up many questions on the human condition today."
Contemporary art curator, film concept developer, volcano climber, art-maker, and secret picture-taker of dogs on public transport; Beata Wilczek, knows good design. She also has over seven years of teaching experience as a design lecturer and has presented her work everywhere from Tokyo to Tel Aviv. If you've made the wise decision to take Digital Design in Berlin, here's what you can expect to learn from her this summer.
Beata Wilczek, iXperience 2019 Digital Design Head Teacher
Beata grew up in Poland but studied in London, where she holds a degree from Central Saint Martins, University of Arts London (MA). She's worked as an art curator, insight researcher, and concept developer for film, and has shared her work internationally, at Bunka University in Tokyo, The Shenkar in Tel Aviv and Royal College of Arts in London. She's taught for over seven years, and actively participates in current debates on design, art, and fashion.
What are you working on now? Tell us about an exciting project that you’ve recently completed or are currently involved with.
Currently, I'm working on a range of projects that touch on fictions and narratives in design. One of them focuses on textiles and upcycling. I am also very excited about my Ph.D., where I am currently looking into the links between design, human experience, and neuroscience. My future teaching projects are also unfolding some interesting topics. At the University of Fine Arts in Berlin, I am discussing with students the role of the fashion magazine and fashion images within in the post-digital condition. At School of Form, during a Humanities in Design class, students are researching sleep and literally designing for dreaming, as their task is to come up with new experience design for sleep.
What do you enjoy most about Digital Design?
I think that one of the most fascinating things about Digital Design is how ubiquitous it is and how seamlessly it enters our daily lives. Everything we do is mediated via apps and websites, from having a walk to romance, it opens up many questions on human condition today. I believe there is a great potential in it, but there also many unknown consequences. So it is a fascinating, constantly growing space that we consume, and, in turn, are consumed by it.
That is also why we need to be smart, because whatever we design, let it be another ‘how many steps you took today’ app or Instagram filter, it affects people. That is why I am particularly excited about socially engaged projects, such as Berlin-based Kiron, that enables access to higher education for refugees through digital solutions. I am always happy to see Digital Design as an agent for equality and diversity.
Beata in Porto
What makes the iXperience Digital Design course for 2019 unique? Why should a student study Digital Design?
I would say it is a sophisticated and ambitious program that allows you to learn not only technical skills but also gain real work experience and shape personal perspective on what design is today. First, we talk about digital design and try to define what it is today, what its main challenges are, and what futures it can shape. This provides context and understanding. Once we know what we are talking about, we learn how to do it. That is why the second part of the course is focused on software and how to address our ideas in practice. The third component is an internship, where students work for 4 weeks on projects designed especially for them.
Is there something special about doing Digital Design in Berlin?
Berlin is a great city! Arts and design are a big part of its identity, and it was appointed City of Design by UNESCO in 2006. It is home to many excellent makers. That is why each class during the Digital Design course will be backed up with local, suggested visits. What is the point of talking about Bauhaus and looking at images when you can actually go to Bauhaus archive or just have a walk down the street and see everything with your own eyes? :)
What are some of the best (or your favourite) iconic examples of great design?
Eggs and the human body. Nature is the best designer. I also enjoy Michelin Men and Pleats Please by Issey Miyake.
Why did you decide to get involved with teaching and how do you continue to keep things fresh?
I believe that teaching is important, as it shapes future thinkers and makers. My goal is to make design students aware that what they make is highly political and impacts not only people but also the environment. The objects, experiences and apps students create contribute to our world and promote certain values. This is something that can’t be as easily experienced as color or texture, but it is what weaves the fabric of culture.
To stay fresh I travel, look at the world, read on current affairs, economy, poetry and ask questions.
How should professionals and would-be professionals equip themselves now?
Be wise and responsible. Less is more. Before you put out anything out there, make sure you know why you are doing this. Never forget about people you make it for. Research is crucial. Do probes, trials, interviews. Get a lot of feedback and make use of it. Also, think about the afterlife of your projects and try to be as sustainable as you can. Lastly, try to be better each time.
What would students be surprised to learn about you?
I love to climb volcanoes. I consider myself an excellent chef. I make art. I secretly take photos of dogs on public transport.
What’s one piece of advice that you have for the iX class of 2019?
Be open, curious, have long walks, explore the city and always do your homework.