Ravensbourne University London
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Martin Charlier

"At Ravensbourne I had the time, support and freedom to get out of my comfort zone and explore new fields of design."

Course: BA (Hons) Product Design
Year of Graduation: 2010

What appealed to you about Ravensbourne and your chosen degree course?

All the tutors were known within the industry and had a progressive approach to design.The approach of the course was progressive: It combined interaction, service and product design aspects into one course.It was a small group with lots of hands-on tutor time.
There wasn't a strict curriculum with a requirement to learn specific (and potentially out-dated) skills.It was more approached as "thinking" course and tools and skills were picked up as and when needed. I felt this was a much better approach to the challenges set by designers today.

How has your degree from Ravensbourne helped you achieve your professional goals?

The small course and hands-on tutoring meant I could focus more time on exploring design directions I hadn't been able to explore before. (I had already worked within industrial design before coming to Ravensbourne). During my time at Ravensbourne I was able to explore service design and critical design.I was hired into two different jobs as a direct result of tutor involvement.

Please list the benefits that you experienced from studying with us.
Direct contact with tutors who were respected industry professionals I knew already for their work.They now form part of my network and I am still in close contact with them today. 
The freedom to explore the areas I knew least about and a flexibility in the teaching that meant I could be challenged and tutored in those fields. 
A cross-disciplinary course that tackled product, service and interaction design was beneficial.

Please describe any highlights from your time at Ravensbourne.
Whilst studying at Ravensbourne I won an RSA design award for one of the projects. I also did a summer internship at Samsung Design Europe which was facilitated through Ravensbourne.
As the course was quite small it was a close-knit group that was fun to hang out with and we had a fun trip to Madrid working on a cross-disciplinary project involving product, interaction and architecture. I was also involved in planning, designing and building an exhibition for new designers while the old Ravensbourne campus was being demolished which was fun.

How is Ravensbourne (and your chosen course) different from other universities/colleges?

In my view it's unique for two reasons: It doesn't teach a set list of hard skills, but relies on teaching approaches and students that can figure out the skills they need to deliver a project themselves. It's focused on the thinking rather than specific tools. It has a progressive design understanding fit for the digital world, where product design, interaction design, service design are all combined and students work holistically across all of these areas.

Are you in employment and, if so as what?
Having worked at Frog Design, Random International and Fjord, I have been self-employed for the last 2 years doing a variety of things. I co-authored a book called 'Designing Connected Products' and am exploring connected hardware devices through a project called Raincloud.eu.
Working as a freelance/independent consultant I help startup businesses design and develop the right product, understand their customers and with prototyping new ideas.
I also do freelance work as part of larger consultancy projects with companies like Method.

What advice would you give to prospective students?
My advice to to prospective students would be to always get to know the tutors and look at the recent projects from the course before you apply, to see if this is right for you.

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