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Polishing the double diamond with the V&A’s Aiesha Duncan | #MemberSpotlight

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Aiesha Duncan is a designer and recent University graduate currently work as Digital Learning Co-Ordinator at the V&A Dundee Museum. Her experience includes web-development, UI/UX design and video/photography of conceptual work and products for a selected market.

As part of her design background, she also has ample experience in making things via AutoCAD and Adobe Creative Suite and transferring these skills between the digital and physical realms. She has also worked on projects for V&A Dundee as a designer, University of Dundee and individual designers to help them make their thoughts into a reality.

We sat down with her today to discuss stumbling into her career and succeeding through the “double diamond” process of design.

How did you get into the industry?

I stumbled into the design industry technically! When leaving school and applying for universities I was told about “Digital Interaction Design” and how it was a combination of digital art/media and graphic design, two of my main focuses at the time and so I applied.

You can imagine my surprise when I turned up to the interview where they showed me CAD modelling, coding and filmmaking to name a few of the variety of topics we covered.

 Yet, despite this surprise I was sold on the unique take on interaction design and never looked back. I graduated with my project “Talk Amongst Yourselves” in June 2022.

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

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Right now, I am based at the V&A Dundee as Digital Learning Co-Ordinator. I take care of social media, documentation and designing he content for the learning team’s work to be visible on our socials.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t in my current industry, I would either be in design of some branch or in filmmaking. For design, definitely some kind of visuals (graphics or UI/UX) as I discovered in my final year I have a love for trying out new styles even if they don’t go anywhere, I just like making.

Or, if it was physical product design, I would specialise in medical/healthcare as I’ve always had an affinity for building for a purpose and making something to make others happier in some way.

Can you explain your creative process? What makes it unique?

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My creative process was originally focused around the standard “double diamond” process of design but has slowly amalgamated into a more free flowing way of design. No matter the time limit I always try to keep to an overall three step system: Brief, research/investigation, conclusion.

What makes my process unique is that, depending on the time limit given, I also try to factor in time for going back to the drawing board before even showing the clients. I always believe that an idea that is ‘’sat on’’ for a few hours or a day, has a much better chance of developing into something greater than picking the first idea and going for it. 

How would you describe your style?

I would say my style is illustrative fun but that I also don’t like to limit myself to that. Before my final year, a lot of my work was more streamlined and minimalist which I enjoyed the look of completely but I also desired there to be something more from design, something more unique and child-like which I think adults in our/my generation want or don’t know they need.

Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

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The first one that comes to mind is Geigy. I was introduced to the company through my tutor for my project last year and loved the minimalist and funky approach to medical design and as mentioned before, it’s a sort of fun I think some aspects of minimalist design is missing in this day and age.

Same thing goes to: Dean Brown, Axis Studios, We’re Not Really Strangers, the aesthetics of Yedsy.

What tips would you give to aspiring creatives looking for work?

I would say just ask and apply to many things. Even if you’re not sure about it, if you have an interest in a client or a brief that you see that interest might be strong enough to get you that job. And if not? There’ll always be another one.

What tips would you give to other professionals to get more clients?

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Post on social media, post any and all kinds of work. Even if you’re not happy with it completely, someone out there will and everything you show displays a progression of development and being able to reflect in captions for examples, gives potential clients a grounding that you’re more human and down to earth which a lot of people like.

You can also get some incredible feedback which can help change something you hate, to something you love in one sentence.

What kind of tools/kit/software could you not do without?

I would be confused if you told me from 4 years ago this but vector illustrating tools have become an incredible lifeline to me and something I actually really enjoy. For Talk Amongst Yourselves I used it to build and design my instruction booklet, the graphics and the outline for the laser cut board game itself.

Now in my work I use it to create objects for motion graphics and love to draw with it in my free time. So from something I utterly despised to now slowly taking over my life, it’s definitely something I could not do without.

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

To start: accept there will be days where you have zero motivation whatsoever, it happens to every type of creative out there. But to stay inspired and motivated I would always try to surround myself with different sources of inspiration and media and make it a goal to learn a new software or application for design every now and then.

You don’t need to perfect it in anyway but just learning how to design using a new tool can open your eyes to a new style, a new way of advertising or just a way to have fun and start thinking in a new way without realising.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

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I will say graduating University, especially because of the troubles that have happened over the last four years and the fact I didn’t actually want to do university in the first place (I wanted to do an apprenticeship).

Despite all the odds and everything that happened, I’ve learned so much, made friends for life, changed as a person and how I see myself as a professional and I’m now in a job I never thought I would have in an amazing place.

What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

I would love the industry to take more dares. As I said before, I think some aspects of design can really develop more from having a little bit of fun and in some areas, the audience would like it more.

With my project, it was originally going to be a more serious, down-to-earth application spreading awareness of invisible disabilities but after talking to the demographic and realising their approach with humour in some cases it completely changed and changed for the better, I say.

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

Websites:

LinkedIn

Pinterest (a true godsend)

Sharpen

Youtube

Books:

Design Meets Disability by Graham Pullin

Design is Storytelling by Ellen Lupton

IDEO Method Cards

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