Global Grad Show 2016

When I was younger, whenever I thought about the word design, I thought of stuff like, fashion design. You know, more artsy, kinda fancy stuff. As I got a bit older that perspective changed a bit, but not by much. I became a programmer and aligned myself with the developer side of things, and you poke fun at designers a bit because that’s kinda just what you do.

Programmers laugh at designers because designers just have these crazy ideas they can’t actually create and then designers laugh at programmers because everything they make isn’t user friendly or like, good, just functional. It’s kind of a fun little dynamic that I’m sure a lot of people in the industry can kinda understand.

So it’s a bit weird how I’m in a design program now and I guess I can be considered a designer. My studies at KAIST have changed the way I think about both designers and design in general and I’m actually really thankful for that. It’s still a bit surreal really, especially since I just got back from a design exhibition where I was invited to showcase some of my work.

The Dubai Design District, a series of ice cube looking buildings in the middle of the desert.
The Dubai Design District, a series of ice cube looking buildings in the middle of the desert.

I honestly never thought that I would be invited to present anything at a design exhibition. At most I thought I’d be invite to present something at a random game convention or tech conference or something. But a design exhibition, wow, that was unexpected.

Unexpected but really cool though.

I was invited to present some work at the Global Grad Show, which was an event held during the Dubai Design Week. The Global Grad Show is an event where they invite students from universities all around the world to showcase their designs. Our school was one of the schools that was invited to participate and somehow our project was selected to be a representative of our school.

Yes, it's a mat.
Yes, it’s a mat.

The project we ended up showcasing is called Tip Tap Mat. It’s essentially a door mat that allows you to unlock doors with your feet. Most things nowadays are designed for your hands so they’re often fairly busy. And when they are, it makes opening locked doors a hassle so we designed a system that moves the interaction from your hands to your feet.

It’s actually quite a simple project, and considering how we managed to get our demo prototype working like the day we flew out do Dubai, I was actually really surprised that it not only worked fairly well, but was also fairly well received at the event.

We even made a tiny door to showcase the interaction.
We even made a tiny door to showcase the interaction.

The event was actually pretty cool. There were 145 projects from 50 universities around the world so there was a lot of diversity in the types of projects as well as the designers working on them. Honestly I thought I was like, the most random person there with the most random project. Everyone else felt so pro, especially those with projects that were pretty much production ready.

It was really interesting to just talk to people and look around the show. Everyone has their own motivations and passion so it was really neat to get some different perspectives while knowing that we’re all joined together by this abstract concept called design.

One of the biggest takeaways I had from the event actually wasn’t the projects themselves but the designers. The show was called the Global Grad Show after all, so you’d expect people from around the world. But the interesting thing was that there were a lot of people that were like me, students that decided to study abroad.

Truly a global event.
Truly a global event.

I mean I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. I am an international student after all and I’m not even all that unique. But it was an idea that really hit me during the event. We had people from schools all around the world, but there were many students that weren’t originally from the country that school was in, making it even more diverse that I originally thought.

It was nice. I’ve realized over the last few years that I’m a really big fan of multiculturalism. People from all over, regardless of ethnicity, religion, etc, getting together and just, co-existing is something I really like. As someone in a creative field, I feel like having all of these different people allows for your own thoughts and ideas to be challenged by different perspectives, as well as giving you new ideas that you might just not have thought of before. Plus it’s just more interesting to have like, differences. Life gets boring when everything and everyone is the same.

Also, as my first content post on this new blog this already feels like a pretty long entry. And I don’t even think I really talked about the actual show that much haha. But hey, Gary’s Rambles right? Haha.