Salford University Product Design Student Stuart Kellett

Today we’re delighted to continue our interview series with product designer Stuart Kellett, allowing us to glimpse into life at the University of Salford as well as the experiences and ambitions of the man himself.

How did you first start as a designer? What/ who were your first inspirations in design and the creative industries?

The answers to both these questions are completely intertwined. My first inspiration for design came from Pete Marsh, Product Design teacher at Canon Slade School (now Fine Artist), who completely captured my imagination when I was deciding which ‘A’ level subjects to study. His enthusiasm and passion for the subject had me hooked; the decision easy. He continued to support and develop me during my two years in the sixth form, helping me to develop the skills I needed to channel my creativity into solutions. I have always had a creative side to my personality – all I needed was the trigger to unlock it. Since then my enthusiasm has continued with the next logical step being to study the subject further at the University of Salford.

As well a teaching me new and essential skills for my chosen field of Product Design, University has enabled me to develop a more commercial aspect, allowing me to work on real briefs for real businesses. For example, one of the projects was to design a product for Alphason, the largest manufacturer of TV stands and home office furniture in the UK. This was inspiring in its own right as it was ‘live’. Without exception the tutors at Salford have imparted their experience and skills to me and have all inspired me in unique ways, but then like most people, inspiration also has to come from yourself, and I was determined to take every opportunity presented to me.

Live project brief from UK’s leading AV furniture manufacturer Alphason. The brief was to design a new TV stand which could fit into their product range.

The key findings from my research in my final major project, showing which key areas are effected by inefficiencies within the retail environment.

What projects are you currently working on as a designer? Which have been some of the projects that have inspired you the most?

I have just recently submitted my Final Major Project at University of Salford. This was a self directed project in which I decided to research the operations within retail, with my primary focus being stock handling within River Island. I performed most of my research within the Bolton store and surrounding North West stores. After analysing my research findings, I found key issues within the operations of both delivery and stock handling on the cash desk.From this I set myself a brief to focus on these areas and look for ways in which I could use design to improve and streamline these operations within the stores, focusing my time on improving the design of garment security tags. This project has now been submitted for my final degree, so I am now preparing for my upcoming exhibitions at both, the Salford University Art and Design Degree show which will be held at Media City (13th – 17th June) and the New Designers Exhibition in London (4th – 7th July).

I have enjoyed all my briefs during University, but the two most inspirational projects I have undertaken over the past three years have been my Final Major Project and the project I undertook last year with a live brief set by Alphason (UK’s leading manufacturer of AV furniture; see above). I felt the live brief with Alphason gave me an opportunity to show to external client that I was creative and could apply my skills to any brief set. As a result of my work, I was shortlisted for interview for a two month placement over summer. Sadly I was ‘pipped at the post’ on this occasion but gained so much from the experience.

Some of the sketch development work on a security tag for River Island, as part of my Final Major Project.

How do you use social networking as a tool professionally and personally? Is it a hinderance or a positive change in the industry?

I use social media in both my personal and professional life. In my personal life use Facebook as a means to tell my friends about my work, but I mainly use LinkedIn and Coroflot in my professional life as I feel they are a brilliant way to show case my work to other professionals and students in the Product Design field. It’s also a great way to get involved with others in discussions over the current changes to industry. I also feel that it keeps me up to date in Product Design, an ever changing profession, where new technology and materials always influence how designers work. I can say for definite that social networking is a positive change in industry as it gives students and young professionals such as myself an opportunity to connect with one another, and also with experienced people in the profession, no matter where in the world you are studying or working.

What plans do you have for yourself in 2012 and beyond?

The near future will see me working hard to prepare to showcase my work, firstly at the University of Salford Degree Show at Media City in June, and then at the New Designers Exhibition in London. Hopefully my display and designs will attract interest from industry and employers, giving me an opportunity to develop contacts and employment in Product Design. I will be constantly on the look out for design opportunities. In an ideal world I would like to work either as an ‘in house’ designer or for a design consultancy.

Design for the brief “Tomorrows Workplace”, in which we had to design for the worker of the future.

You can see more of Stuart’s work on his website at http://www.stuartkellettdesigns.com and be sure to follow on Twitter @StuartKellett, LinkedIn and Coroflot.

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