Maki Suzuki Royal College of Art London United Kingdom – I Used to Be a Design Student

FRENCH

Maki Suzuki

STUDENT YEARS

7

A PIECE OF SOUND ADVICE + A SINGLE WARNING TO A DESIGN STUDENT

Try everything + Don’t read, watch, look at design compilation books or blogs

FAVOURITE FOOD THEN

Being French and being a vegetarian was a national joke… Studying at the Royal College of Art (London, UK), where many cosmopolitan truths collide, I met Glaswegian and Swedish non-meat eaters who proved me wrong and I have been pescetarian since

YOUR MOST VALUED POSSESSION THEN

Comic books collection

YEAR OF PROJECT

1998

STUDENT PROJECT BRIEF

Express your given colour in a way that makes us see it as if for the first time. Nicole Udry got purple and I got turquoise.

COLLEGE

Royal College of Art, London (United Kingdom)

TUTOR(S)

Margaret Calvert (see also pp.150–153)

COLLABORATOR(S)

Nicole Udry, classmate

TECHNOLOGY

Digital inkjet printout, wood and foam board

TIME SPENT

1 week, among other projects

WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS PROJECT?

It is very difficult to remember the whole process, but the idea was that Nicole had chosen red and I, blue. To design a compromise of our collaboration, we printed out a very ugly drawing of the same dog in red on one side and blue on the other on a wooden stick. On the day of the presentation we turned the stick in our hands so the dog would somehow be purple. I like my own uncertainty of such a work. It somehow made sense (why a dog at all? why that dog?). What is perhaps most likely is that it gave me the hope that I could work towards something not only that people could find challenging but that I also would consider an eyesore. At the time Nicole was also on a similar quest, perhaps even more so as she did study graphics in Switzerland.

WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT IT?

Too late. Definitely the ugliest thing.

OUTCOMES

Mixed feelings about disappointing a teacher I admired (see Feedback) and feeling guilty that I should have tried to please her. This has followed me since. A client, a commissioner or a collaborator is not someone to please or ‘service’.

FEEDBACK

Margaret Calvert: ‘I am so disappointed’.

PROJECT SIMILARITIES THEN AND NOW

In both projects we acknowledge they are not logical-conceptual, a tautological idea leading to one, often single, ‘solution’. The design decisions are rather convoluted and spiral out of our own comfort zone. Of course once we get there we need to go further as comfort installs itself almost immediately. They also have in common that they force handlers, readers, receivers to wonder about them as performative objects. Obviously a book is always also an object, but in this case, I remember the slight shame at spinning the dog in front of the class or seeing people discard the book as a piece of trash they cannot throw away but would never put next to a ‘real’ publication.