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How Design changed my outlook on life - Angelica Wallesch

“Everything you see is designed by someone. Even the pen you are holding in your hand is the product of another person’s idea.” Our lecturer Nicholas Lewis made a statement like this in one of my first courses at Billy Blue College of Design. What he said seemed so obvious, yet the thought had never crossed my mind before. It hit me like a bolt from the blue – so hard it left an imprint that changed the way I view the world and everything around me.

Enrolling in a Bachelor of Interior Design was very much a wildcard for me and not at all a life-long dream. In fact, studying at university was not even a given after scrimmaging my way through High School.

However, after hustling in hospitality since the age of 14, my creative flair was craving to be nurtured. If I was going to spend 45+ hours a week to make a living – I wanted it to make me feel alive. Therefore, many sources of inspiration and years of juggling ideas; boiled down to giving education in design a shot.

In 2018 my cyber-friend Google told me about education in the land down under - the adventurer in me was soon convinced. In August that year, I packed my life into two suitcases and arrived in Melbourne, prepared to turn my life around.

Even though information was provided about the course, it could never prepare me for the things I have learned.

With the expectation of being taught how to change and improve a space, I soon realised that the impact of design can stretch way further than what we can see. Whether it is interior design, architecture, communication design or photography - only to mention a few – the beauty our eyes capture is only the surface of a greater meaning.

The first time I saw the larger context of design, after Mr Lewis’ eye-opening statement, was the final assessment in the very same course. We were asked to translate a historical event into a living picture - a Tableau Vivant.

After discovering an abundance of marks on the historical timeline of human history, the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Sweden (2009) had my final vote. I am not sure if it was the fact that we do not talk enough about the fight those who identify as LGBTQ+ have had to take to gain a place in society or the fact that the fight for their rights still occurs in many areas and places today. Either way, I wanted to bring the history and the milestones to the light.

I bought some props and bribed four friends with pizza to help me stage some of the key events from the 1950s to 2009. It started with homosexuality being decriminalized and portrayed the journey leading up to marital legalisation.

From where I stand today, I can see how this project may have been the catalyst to the growing hunger inside for creating and designing meaningful things. Looking back at the rest of my courses, whether they are interior related or not, the majority of my projects aim to improve environmental or social issues. Because if my time at university has taught me anything, design is not linear and there are endless ways we can be innovative.

I believe as designers and creators, we have the gift of impacting people without speaking directly to them by letting our work be the vessel.

By creating spaces that are healthy for us and the environment, we can show the world that we care, and inspire others to follow suit. When we capture events with our cameras, we can show people what words could never describe. As we create products or advertisements, we can choose to go past the profit and give the world what they did not know they needed or impact people to move in a direction they have not yet thought of.

The road from where I started at university to where I am today has not been linear at all, and just as in high school, I have had my hurdles.

It took some time for me to figure this out, but today, I am sure that great design is created when our ideas are derived from our authentic selves. I might not have gotten here still if it was not for the people along the way that appreciated and saw that part of me, who for many years had been put in the backseat, after struggling to find her place.

“Stay a square peg as much as you can get away with. Try to unlearn the systemic and rediscover the genius of you. Keep thinking differently, because that’s what the world really needs.” My lecturer David McInnes said this to me earlier this year, and he is right.

The beautiful thing about being a creator of any kind is the room for diversity. Because if we have the right environment, it holds space for us to grow out of the moulds we might have been placed in, and into whomever we want to be. And wherever we are from, our design does not have to be limited to speaking to just one crowd; it is a universal language that goes beyond words.

Design is our greatest tool. Design stands for change. Design is the answer to many of the problems our world is facing. Design is our chance to make an impact on the world around us, as design is what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste - a communicator of all senses. Design is our common mother tongue. And for me, it has been my great chance to combine creativity with the urge to do good. It has made me realise that I too want to be that bolt from the blue sky, changing perspectives forever, and for the better.


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