UTS Design student develops tool to foster friendship through household goods
It’s a common scenario facing households all over the world. The accumulation of often expensive purchased goods that end up gathering dust for most of the year. It may be a drill or a fancy food processor, items which are used sparingly.
UTS Visual Communication student, Gabriella Clegg, decided to tackle this issue as part of her Honours major project and its led to the creation of The Object Library – an experience driven platform, designed to link you and your underutilised goods with the community.
“My research uncovered the notion that ‘the sharing economy’ is changing the way people live and consume. There’s a trend towards people craving more meaningful experiences through systems, which many theorists believe is a way to foster a greater sense of community in our digitally-dominated age,” explains Gabriella.
The Object Library will allow users to browse through inventories and see what items are available to be borrowed, shared or swapped around a user’s local community.
She took her main inspiration from designer Cameron Tonkinwise, whose research in 2014 revealed that while existing app-based sharing services are beneficial, they do lack the person–to–person interactions and community engagement which simply can’t be ‘app’ed’.
“I saw there was a gap in the market so I aimed to create a tangible and secure community hub that’ll allow new connections to blossom across our communities, while also doing something positive to promote sustainability and reuse.”
By generating new dialogues across members, users are encouraged to attend weekly community meets, share events, workshops and discussions.
“I also see it as a catalyst for kinship and collaboration, and an opportunity for us all to reinvigorate a much lost sense of neighbourliness and trustworthiness, both of which have been somewhat lost in our highly anonymous and urbanised lives.”
For Gabriella, her major project was in part directed by the culmination of unique life-changing course experiences: from collaborating with a renowned international designer to spending four days in a remote NZ national park, sketching; all of which have nurtured her transition towards becoming a visual communication specialist.
“In third year, we were given the ability to tackle a complex societal challenge such as mental health. I designed an affordable self-care kit to support carers and loved ones who often have to be responsible for themselves and another person.
“It was such as incredibly rewarding subject and I found it empowering being able to design within social context parameters.”
Gabriella designed an affordable self-care kit to support carers and loved ones of mental health patients
Three-months of work experience at Eskimo Design as part of the course’s practical placement program followed. It allowed Gabriella the opportunity to immerse herself in agency work where she was able to work alongside experience designers on diverse briefs from branding to editorial work.
“The working environment, designers and projects at hand were all incredible - a lot of their work sat with my interests so I enjoyed every minute of my time with them. It was an unforgettable three months filled with countless opportunities.”
As Gabriella prepares to embark on her professional career, the honours year has allowed her to reflect on how she’s evolved as a designer and provide some clarity about her future direction.
“After third year, I wasn’t quite ready to launch myself into the design industry and felt that I needed an extra year to refine my skills as a designer by challenging myself to produce something that reflected my journey as a designer throughout the years.”
Her final words of wisdom to any aspiring designers looking to forge a career in visual communication:
“I’ve learnt that visual communication is about giving written words and ideas tactility or visual presence - making ideas visible which allows us to understand content, the world around us and how individuals narrate themselves through their everyday lives.”
The Visual Communication Honours Studio, led by Aaron Seymour, allows students to engage in self-motivated and personally directed research and design, leading to the development and presentation of a significant design outcome, using their choice of media.