Along with two other students from the Interior Design programme, I won a project to re-do the Art Bar here at the Royal College of Art, so it’s nearly September and I haven’t stopped working this summer! It’s turned out to be more complicated than we expected; hopefully we’ll be able to continue into next year. I’m also starting to focus more on my dissertation, which is about bio-design and interior spaces. I’m interested in nature and the limits of how far we can go in interacting with synthetic biology.
I finished my BA ten years ago, so I’ve been working since then. I studied product design in Nantes, France. Straight after that, I came to London. I wanted a big change and travelling was a good way to discover a new culture, new points of view, and a great opportunity to learn English properly. I had no savings so it was a difficult start; I knocked on doors and was very lucky to get a job within a month or two. I began working as an assistant designer at Inflate, who were becoming successful and expanding. I stayed there for a year and then worked on several projects for product and set designer duo El Ultimo Grito, and then Unto This Last, which is a furniture company in Bethnal Green that has a wood workshop in the shop space. I worked a lot on 3D-modelling, and started to realise there was a need for these skills within architecture, so I wanted to pursue that.
I left London for Barcelona, to do a funded internship in a company called Archikubik. I was there for a year, but then the financial crisis hit and there were no jobs. I wanted to put the skills I’d developed to good use, so I went back to Paris, and started working as a freelancer in a company called Artefactorylab, which is an agency that specialises in representing architectural projects. It was really interesting but I wanted to be more creatively involved, and so I decided that returning to study would help me to refine my creative and productive impetus as a designer, so I applied for a Master’s.
When I first moved to London, I found myself surrounded by RCA alumni, and meeting all these great people who had studied there sparked my curiosity. When I visited for the first time, I got even more interested. It kind of stayed in my mind for ten years, and I knew that it was always something I’d love to do. I didn’t know about the Interior Design programme as it’s quite new, but when I discovered it, it seemed like a perfect meeting point for everything I’d been doing across product and interior design and architecture. It’s a space where different disciplines interact, so it’s a great way to combine, expand and develop all my knowledge.
I think the programme looks for people who want to interact with others; students in Interior Design come from all different backgrounds, such as architecture, philosophy and design, film and fine art, as well as interior and product design, and the point is to learn from each other.
The first year was full of variety, and I discovered many new ways to approach things. One of my favourite projects was about office and working environments. It was an opportunity to work with electronics, which was something I'd wanted to experiment with, ever since working with electronics on a project for AcrossRCA.
I started at the RCA with a very open mind, wanting to learn and absorb as much as possible. I felt a little disorientated to begin with, but that is a really good thing, I think; it was an exciting challenge. In time, I came to understand how the School works, what is expected of you, who to talk to in order to get what you need. I’d always encourage first-year students to force themselves to go beyond what they know – it’s good to test things before the second year. And the time goes so quickly.
"It seemed like a perfect meeting point for everything I’d been doing across product and interior design and architecture. It’s a space where different disciplines interact."Tiphaine Dugast