Face to Face: Jiani Zeng
Name: Jiani Zeng (曾佳旎)
Major: BEng Product Design and Manufacture
City of Birth: Hangzhou
Q: Why chose UNNC and why chose PDM?
UNNC was the best option with my Gaokao exam scores back in 2011. I didn’t know much about UNNC, but I started loving it since the first day in UNNC.
When I applied for PDM, it’s in its first year in UNNC – many students thought it’s quite risky to choose it. I like engineering and I was very good at it, but I always felt like doing something emotional (arts and design). I was quite struggled for a while – most of the top students in first year chose civil engineering or electrical engineering. I remember the day before my final decision, I saw an image of Leica M6 Historica (I was a big fan of cameras), and I knew that’s something I’m going to design in the future – PDM is perfect for a career like this.
Q: Please comment on your studying experience in UNNC (take one module as example)
UNNC is very multicultural and open. There are many student associations, so it’s a paradise for those who like social activities and for party animals. As for study, UNNC students work really hard, everyone can get a lot of help from other students / faculties. I never see myself as hard working as other top students in UNNC – I only went to the library/labs before the final exams and I liked studying alone in the dormitory so that I can watch TV shows in between. But I am a person who can always get thing finished and I am really into design – I never feel tired working on a project I like. Whenever I thought about an idea, I’ll use every resource I had to visualize it.
PDM is very different from other programs – it is studio based, so that the students spend lots of time in SEB creating ideas and making prototypes, and you can easily reach out to the tutors in the studio. Taking final year project as an example, we had weekly meetings with design tutors exchanging and improving ideas, and all tutors are from different backgrounds and disciplines. I got tremendous help from this diverse group in PDM – always in different perspectives (from marketing, user experience, ergonomics, manufacture, materials to vitalization and model making).
Q: What you benefit most from UNNC?
First, UNNC has plenty of academic resources and opportunities – many students study abroad in the third year. I took a one-year exchange program in Australia and I met talented designers and tutors there - not many Chinese universities can provide such opportunity.
Second, I benefited a lot from my tutors in PDM. As I mentioned, they’re all from different disciplines – getting advices from people in different background is extremely important for designers. Besides, they are all very patient and willing to give students ideas. I would especially thank Dr. Yi Teng Shih – my personal advisor in year four and one of my recommenders. He emphasizes a lot about design thinking and he always has smart ideas – which I believe is the most difficult part in design. We worked on many design projects –award winning concepts. I learnt a lot from him: the way he observes a problem, the thinking behind each idea and the passion in design – minds open and keep thinking!
Q: What makes you competitive in the international design award? Please take one as example and introduce your design project.
As I said: keep thinking. Record every small idea you have and talk to someone. Good idea comes from daily life. For Dr. Yi Teng Shih and me, we communicate a lot on good concepts and we are always excited about ideas. I remember he said “a good design always uses a simple solution to solve a complex problem” – this philosophy helps us win.
This year so far, we’ve won several design awards already:
1) Project: Dual Zero waste
Golden A’ Design Award Winner in Packaging Design Category (Italy)
2) Project: Tag Tag Mark disposable cups
Golden A’ Design Award Winner in Ease of Use and Universal Design Category (Italy)
3) Project: CURE
European Product Design Award - Silver in Home Interior Products / Lighting
4) Project: DAILY1936 - PILL BOX INTEGRATING DRINK BOTTLE DESIGN
European Product Design Award - Packaging Design / Other Packaging
5) Project: Glasses Plus Interchangeable Cover Frame
Bronze A' Design Award Winner for Jewelry, Eyewear and Watch Design Category
Golden International Design Awards (USA)
6) Project: iTravel
Bronze International Design Awards (USA)
Please go to the links to see project description.
Q: What makes you competitive in applying the master programme? Which offers you have received?
I received offers from MIT, Harvard University, Rhodes Island School of Design (with grant), Art Center College of Design (with grant), Pratt Institute, SAIC, Northwestern University. All are top industrial design (or design related) programs. I chose MIT at last (my dream school). For me, it tops at almost every discipline (especially engineering and design) and it’s the best university in the world.
I know exactly what I’m going to do for Master and I’ve showed it in my statement and interviews – that makes me stand out in the application. Recommendation letters are very important too. And I got LUCK!