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Student Spotlight

Beginning in the fall of 2022, the IDAB quarterly newsletter began to focus attention on one current Virginia Tech Industrial Design student of the faculty's choosing. Their interviews are archived here.

September 2022 | Serena Davis

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Serena, can you talk a little bit about yourself?

I'm in my fourth, technically fifth-year industrial design student, and I like designing things and making things. I am from Northern Virginia, a small town called Herndon and grew up close to the city.


How did you get into industrial Design?

I've always wanted to be an inventor. Coming into college, I discovered industrial design early on. I decided to change majors or paths from engineering, which I was planning on doing, to industrial design as soon as possible. Follow that whole long process of applying, making a portfolio with no drawing skills, since I've never really drawn before, then summer studio. The whole long process, I finally got in. I've been engaging with design ever since and I like it.


What are you working on right now?

Well, studio-wise, we're working on a light switch project, which is fun. The brief is to encourage users to turn off the light for energy conservation and reducing energy waste. I like playing with forms, so it's flexing my creative muscles a bit. Outside of the studio, I've been working on sort of personal projects. I am working on making a decorative product, it's essentially an album cover that you hang on the wall, and you can scan it, and it'll play the playlist of that specific album or song. So, I've been working on that, and it is more like a long-term project, though.

What inspires you the most while designing? 

I try to be open to inspiration and like many different areas. I guess I don't have this one designer that I look up to. If I am stuck, I like being outside in nature and just putting things in perspective to calm myself down. If I'm passionate about a project, it's good to step away to be in nature.


What is your go-to industrial design program, and why? 

Recently, I'm liking digital sketching a lot. I used to use what's called Sketchbook, which is free, and then treated myself and got Procreate.  I like that a lot because sketching was scary for me at first. After all, I'd never done it before. I like digital sketching because it gives me room to mess up. I can just undo or expand the canvas, and there's a lot of freedom to do things.


What kind of Design have you been interested in? Why?

I might give you a broad answer because design is very generic, but a lot about anything. I always gravitate towards more conceptual design, things like fantasy and science fiction. So, anything that's out of this world or seems unrealistic and so far in the future. We had a speculative design project last year. That was a lot of fun because I had the freedom to use my imagination and not think about how this will be made with technology that doesn't exist. When it comes to products, I am more into consumer products; I call it "designing for people," as it is a product where people interact with it all the time. It is more like helping design things that people use every day, so anything that makes people's lives easier.


From your point of view, what do you think about the future of industrial Design?

I think it's getting very digital and the design trends of products, at least like physical products, are very hyper-refined, like the Apple style or like the smooth edges and everything like that, which has its place and is good. But I don't want everything to look like an iPhone because it kind of scares you. I like the variety. I don't know why it's just very symmetrical. Why do you think we're pushing toward the iPhone or the oven? Why not push toward each other? Very simple and digestible. And in that sense, it's good, but I don't know, I think it's also good to have some challenges.


Where do you see yourself in the future, and is there any dream company you want to work at?

Hopefully, with a job, but the big goal is to have my own design firm, which will be more about designing for people. There are a couple of consultancies that I'm interested in, like design firms that work with other companies. For example, Layer, I've been a fan of them since I first heard of industrial design. They're in London, and they just do like a bunch of they work with a bunch of different companies, but I like their design style, and they do more like futuristic designs. Then the other one is nonfiction, they're very conceptual.

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