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The power of interdisciplinary global design

‘The RCA has an incredibly tight-knit, driven and engaging community. Everyone is so passionate about what they do, it’s truly an inspiring place.’ – Ryan Mario Yasin

Ryan Mario Yasin
Ryan Mario Yasin
Ryan’s graduate project Petit Pli proposed an innovative solution to ill-fitting children’s clothing. His rainproof outerwear uses engineered fabric embedded with a structure that expands bi-directionally to grow with a child from age nine months up to four years. The design was awarded the UK James Dyson Award as well as the 2018 Dezeen Award for best wearable design. Ryan is currently developing Petit Pli with support from InnovationRCA, the College’s centre for enterprise.

Where did you study before coming to the RCA?

I completed an MEng in Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London, and published a conference paper in deployable composite flexures. I mention this because the research helped inspire and feed into Petit Pli– which on the surface seems like a completely farfetched example, but is the core of why the RCA and Global Innovation Design (GID) are so important to me: the power of interdisciplinary design.

Petit Pli
Petit Pli, Ryan Mario Yasin
When did you first hear about the RCA and why did you decide to study here?

I would often attend the IDE and GID open days – I was completely drawn to the creative problem solving approaches of projects that had stemmed at the RCA. I also took part in the Imperial College Design Collective a society in which Andy Brand, John StevensMiles Pennington and other RCA tutors would give inspiring insights into design methods and approaches.

What were the main differences between your expectation of studying at the RCA and the reality?

The RCA has an incredibly tight-knit, driven and engaging community. Everyone is so passionate about what they do, it’s truly an inspiring place. The interdisciplinary nature of the College and Programmes ensure that new approaches and perspectives are always reflected in people’s work.

Independent working was a huge part of life at the RCA for me, it’s armed me with the confidence and ability to execute ideas and remain resilient and persistent when faced with any challenge.

What was it like day-to-day studying at the RCA?

GID was such a fantastic opportunity. I was able to completely immerse myself in three different global contexts – New York City, Tokyo and London – with each city and country offering new perspectives on the world and design. In addition, I did this alongside an inspiring cohort, all armed with different outlooks and opinions. I strongly believe that the more perspectives you have on any situation, the more armed you are to design for it. Being immersed in those global contexts alongside such a diverse cohort invited me to see the world through others’ eyes – it made me a better designer.

Did you make any particularly strong connections with the other students on your Programme?

Our GID class consisted of 12 international and interdisciplinary people, we each travelled to the different countries and lived together throughout the two years – pretty intense. We went through good and tough times together – and we’ll forever be there for each other, it doesn’t matter which corner of outer space we’ll end up at.

Petit Pli
Petit Pli
How did your approach to design develop while you were at the RCA?

In engineering, I was trained to think with a technology driven attitude – the RCA trained me to design for and with people. The environment also helped me develop my own voice. It’s important to listen and collate people’s opinions but it’s even more important to be able to filter the facts and figures and also empathise with people before reaching your own conclusions. Developing my instinctual compass was important, having your own voice requires resilience and persistence, because you will always be challenged by others – knowing why you do what you do helps a lot in this case, and the RCA certainly helped me find that.

Did you face any particular challenges while you were at the RCA?

The range of disciplines on our course meant that different peers would always be magnitudes better than you at their respective skills – this made your environment hugely challenging but also pushed you to do your best. The best part was that we were all in the same boat so sympathised and learnt so much from each other.

What have you been up to since graduating, and what's next?

When I began Petit Pli, I knew I’d want to unleash it to the world – it was never my intention for it to remain a portfolio piece. I’ve since been busy raising investment, forming a team, working on trademarks and IP, exhibiting at galleries worldwide, building a UK based supply chain that could fulfill last summer’s Pioneer test run, building a Portuguese based supply chain to help scale production – the next run will be available to order in a matter of 2 weeks, in April, so make sure you sign up to the mailing list!

Find out more about Global Innovation Design at the RCA and how to apply.