Interview with Recent DCA Graduate Frederic Chang

Frederic Chang

We’re grateful to recent DCA graduate Frederic Chang for sharing more about his academic and professional journey with us. You can view his website here and his online portfolio here.

Tell us how you got interested in design and what brought you to the DCA program.
I was firstly interested in fine arts and architecture, but I did not think much about the future until my last year of high school. I saw that my intellectual interests and artistic/crafting hobbies could be linked through design and desired to explore this field further. After discovering my passion for furniture and interior design during my BA in industrial design, I decided to study further in the same field in Europe to see different points of view and how design there differs from East Asia.

My vision was opened greatly while completing my master’s degree in London. Critical and speculative design was a very intriguing topic for me to work on during my degree. It involved multiple design disciplines in order to create an experience of an alternative world. When I became a product designer back in Taiwan, I thought about going further with my interest in creating experiences. Instead of doing another degree, I wanted courses that would have more connection to the professional world. I found the DCA program after my first visit in Los Angeles, which I thought would be a great place to learn more about designing experiences and sharpen my skill in conveying more abstract design concepts to an audience. The opportunity of an internship in the Getty (although the pandemic prevented this), and gaining further knowledge in visual communication were also incentives. So here I am!

What were your favorite courses and why?
Despite the fact that the pandemic lockdown came 5 months after I started the program, I enjoyed many courses and began to realize what I needed and where I wanted to be involved in communication design.

Unity I: 3D Game Design and Game Engines with John Selig was a great experience. As I wanted to obtain a better sense of digital interaction and how game design process works, I chose to learn about Unity. There was a lot for me to learn including all the coding, interactions, and visualization in the software, and John really helped us a lot both technically and conceptually. Seeing my classmates’ diverse project ideas was very inspiring and that kept me thinking what digital experiences do in a physical world.

Designing Experiences with Robert Checchi was another one of my favorite courses. The focus of the class was exactly what I needed and Robert provided lots of information on both technical and methodological details with professional examples, as well as lectures by professionals from the industry. The weekly discussions after each student’s project progress presentation were the most mind-blowing part of the class, because everyone was working on very different projects and we got interesting ideas and inspired each other a lot.

Motion Graphics I with David Dodds was an adventure. We had a lot of freedom to work on our weekly projects and that encouraged great diversity of visual styles. The healthy competitiveness kept you wanting to be better. We learned from each other how to use the software creatively. I gave myself many challenges such as making my own music for most projects and experimenting with other 3D programs, in order to have a more comprehensive sense of video production. This class was also a great practice in creating narrative experiences.

What’s a project that you’re particularly proud of?
If I had to choose one, I would say the museum exhibition experience design project “Age of Imagination” was my most confident and ambitious work in the DCA program. The project was done under the mentorship of Robert Checchi. It contains a tremendous amount of research on English history, decorative arts, exoticism, industrial revolution…etc., as well as planning the message I was trying to deliver to the audience and why it mattered. I attempted to create an experience showing how English people saw foreign cultural influences in 18-19th century and how we see English culture of that period nowadays in popular media such as movies based on Jane Austin novels or the TV show Bridgerton. I kept my own playful design approach while solving technical problems related to the actual Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) site and museum exhibit curation.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years?
My experience in the program has confirmed my plan to become a multidisciplinary experience designer in the future. There is always more to learn in any field, and gaining solid professional experience will be the most important mission of mine in the next few years. As I already have some experience in product design, working in environmental graphics, installation design, or exhibition design will be my next step, while maturing my applied skills in digital interaction on the side for use in future professional projects.

Congratulations, Frederic!

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