NSCAD students among first international participants of prestigious design exhibition

Three NSCAD University students are in Tokyo this week to take part in The Japan Industrial Designers’ Association (JIDA) annual Next Eco Design exhibition. Paul Guardia (BDes 2020), Lerao Fang (MDES 2021) and Drew Tozer (BDes 2020) have been invited to participate in the exhibition, an event attended annually by more than 160,000 people.

This year’s event marks the first time students outside of Japan have been invited to take part. The projects by Guardia, Fang and Tozer will be displayed in a NSCAD booth within the exhibition. Dr. Christopher Mark Kaltenbach, Chair of NSCAD’s Division of Design, will also be exhibiting his insect-based design work.

We spoke with Larao Fang and Drew Tozer before they left for Japan, and learned more about their time at NSCAD and the Next Eco Design exhibition in Tokyo.

Lerao Fang

Where are you from?

I’m from Zhongshan, Guangdong, China.

What program are you studying at NSCAD?

I am a first-year student in the Master of Design Program (M. Des.).

How did you first learn about NSCAD?

My undergraduate degree is in graphic design, and I decided to go to North America to further my education. When searching universities, I found NSCAD. Right away, I realized that it has a good reputation in many disciplines.

What made you choose to enroll at NSCAD?

First I was attracted to the idea of living in Halifax, which is a dream city for me – a nice harbor city with friendly people. But then I fell in love with the values and opportunities at NSCAD. That’s why I applied for the M. Des. program.

 What do you value most from your student-experience at NSCAD so far?

I love my courses. We focus on topics like sustainability, social justice and feminism – these types of topics allow me to use design across our society, and allows me to keep challenging myself. I find myself asking ‘what role would I like to play as a designer?’ These thoughts and ideas impact my daily life and make me look for solutions to everyday issues like accessibility and the environment.

What has surprised you the most about attending NSCAD?

I just love how tolerant, diverse, and respectful NSCAD is as an art school.

Is this your first trip to Japan?

This is actually my fourth trip to Japan, but this time the purpose of my visit is totally different.

What are you looking forward to experiencing in Japan?

Such an experience is undoubtedly rare and meaningful to me. The opportunity of participating in this exhibition is a recognition, and encouragement, of my work. I’m looking forward to getting suggestions and evaluations from peers and professionals, both of which will help me build a sound design concept.

Can you tell us a bit about the project you are showcasing in Japan?

The title of my project is VOC Pack: a breast cancer detecting pad for Barbados women. The Volatile Organic Compounds Pack is a speculative breast cancer screening method for Barbados women. The design is a pair of pear-shaped pads, with adhesive tape for applying to the bra. The pads come in three general sizes that can be cut to an exact size. The pack includes an envelope with a sealable anti-bacterial bag inside of it, two pads and an instruction sheet. After the pads absorb the cancerous off-gas from the breasts, they are placed back in the sealable pouch and then mailed to a hospital. An analysis device then examines them.

This is the first time that students from outside of Japan will have an opportunity to showcase their work at this annual exhibition. What does it feel like to be among the first international students to take part?

What is unique to me is that my design concepts and perspectives of looking at problems are deeply influenced by Asian culture, especially Japan, because of Japan’s leading position in the Asian design industry. However, I received lots of different ideas towards design and society in a year of studying at NSCAD. Now I got the chance to bring my new thoughts to Tokyo, the most prosperous and diversified city in Asia, to share my understandings of the relationship of environment, society and design with peers from different concerns and practical experience. Meanwhile, this experience will enrich my design background and be very significant to my career development, motivating me to think more and bring positive influences to my surroundings. I am very grateful to NSCAD for providing me with such a stage.

 

Drew Tozer

Where are you from?

I’m from New Brunswick.

 What program are you studying at NSCAD?

I’m studying towards my bachelor of design, with a major in interdisciplinary design. Right now, I’m on my exchange semester in Schwabisch Gmund, Germany, studying interaction design.

 How did you first learn about NSCAD?

I first heard about NSCAD when I was in high school, but wound up studying at a different art college for a year before switching over to NSCAD in 2016.

Why did you choose to enroll at NSCAD?

I heard a lot about NSCAD’s reputation and wanted to be in that challenging and inspiring environment. I knew I wanted to study design, but I really enjoyed trying many of the disciplines in fine arts during the foundation year at NSCAD.

What have you valued most from your student-experience at NSCAD so far?

I think I would say all of the opportunities that NSCAD has fostered to allow you to push your skills forward as an independent, at your own pace. But I also really value the personal connections with all the faculty and students.

What has surprised you the most about attending NSCAD?

 I’m always surprised and grateful for the tight-knit NSCAD community.

Is this your first trip to Japan?

It is!

What are you looking forward to experiencing in Japan?

I think I’m most excited to eat tons of great food in Japan.

Can you tell us a bit about the project you are showcasing in Japan?

My project was developed during my third year course with Dr. Kaltenbach, called Insectum. We explored bio-based design problems. Particularly, we investigated the technological advances from the chemical by-products found in insects, and used that research to develop design ideas that would support and promote new products and services. My research is narrowed on nicrophorus vespilloides (burying beetle), and its potential as a powerful bioremediator for crude oil spills. The speculative system I’ve created details the beetle, its hindgut fungi (yarrowia lipolytica), and its potential to metabolize oil in highly polluted areas. The product I’ve hypothesized would be used in partnership with pure wax (a wax that can absorb pollutants without taking on water itself), and efforts would be centralized in Niger Delta, Nigeria. The final outcome aside from the system design is a logo and brand guidelines document for the company that would produce this wax to give the product a more tangible context.

This the first time that students from outside of Japan will have an opportunity to showcase their work at this exhibition. What does it feel like to be among the first international students to take part?

I’m very grateful for the experience. It’s a bit surreal, but ultimately I’m just very grateful for Dr. Kaltenbach’s work in arranging this amazing opportunity for us.

For more information on NSCAD’s Interdisciplinary Design program, visit https://nscad.ca/study-at-nscad/divisions-and-areas/design/.

 

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