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Chema Pastrana

Global Innovation Design MA

I studied architecture at the University of Navarre, in Spain. Before going to college I devoured every one of my father’s interior design magazines, and the best part was always at the end, in the ‘furniture and innovations’ section. I didn’t know though that such a thing as industrial design existed.

Studying architecture was fun, and it broadened my design knowledge remarkably, but before even finishing it, I knew I wanted to go somewhere else. During my degree I worked a bit out of the field, doing graphic design, illustration and interaction design for a bunch of clients. That was so rewarding! After graduation I kept working for clients in Spain and France, and I also travelled to London to work as an architect for a while. Even so, the idea of stepping forward through a Master’s degree was more intense than ever.

I didn’t know about the Royal College of Art before. I was veering towards Art Center College of Design in California and Rhode Island School of Design, but neither of these programmes had the mixed design approach I was looking for. For me, we already have too many products and I didn't want to contribute to that by producing more beautiful rubbish. I want to do meaningful design, design that has true social impact.

I read about the RCA in an article about interaction design. When I checked the Innovation Design Engineering webpage I was so excited. I booked a flight the following week to attend its Open Day.

This is the first year of the Global Innovation Design course, and it’s always a bit adventurous (and risky) to be the first. When I attended the IDE Open Day I hadn’t heard a word about GID before. They showed us their vision for a new type of programme, broader in scope, internationally oriented and very focused on disruptive innovation in a complex world. I had no doubt GID was for me.

 So far, the programme hasn’t let me down. We started this past summer in London with an intense set of short workshops and projects. That was incredibly exciting. Then we came to New York, where we get a strong, traditional interactive design education from Pratt Institute. At the same time, all the students from the three centres (London, New York, Tokyo) are working together on one big international project, which we will be developing throughout the year.

After our stay here, we will be heading back home for another two months of fast and furious design projects, before visiting the next partner in Japan. I’m really looking forward to that; if the cultural change from Europe to the US was not enough, Japan is going to be a whole new level of culture shock and learning.

 My dream is to set up my own design consultancy. We’ve been meeting some former RCA students that have successfully done the same, and it feels more achievable now. Nevertheless, I know this is not easy; I may need to work first for a bigger company to gain confidence and experience. We’ll see.

"My dream is to set up my own design consultancy. We’ve been meeting some former RCA students that have successfully done the same, and it feels more achievable now. "
Chema Pastrana
Chema Pastrana