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Meet: Shani Osei

Shani’s approach to product design shows her love for textiles, spatial design and ‘designing for good’. We flashback to our chat this time last year.


About Me

Tell us about yourself

I was born in London, I’ve always lived here and my parents originate from Ghana. I’m currently in my final (third) year of a Product Design degree. It’s quite an exciting time, a lot of pressure. It’s good because you feel more responsible for the decisions you make.

Research for the ‘Copper bag’ project- Shani looked into shopping centres- how they feel the same wherever you go despite the very different local communities that live nearby. She looked into shapes and forms for a product that would sum up this experience.
When did you decide that you wanted to do something creative?

I chose art and design and textiles at GCSE. In my head I wanted to do something creative but I also wanted to have a stable job. Financially, I thought it would be best to do architecture – I was quite good at maths and science but there was still some kind of creativity involved. At college I did A Levels in interior design, fine art, physics and maths, still thinking I was going to do architecture but half way through my A-Levels, I failed physics.

I decided to do a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design. I found out more about product design and what really made me apply for it was the design-thinking side of things, something I had not been introduced to before. Just the idea that there’s a whole job; people who look into human behaviours in relation to designing things for people.


My Work

How would you describe yourself and your work?

I don’t actually think of myself as a product designer, which I think is a bit strange! I am a designer who is trying to find a way to visualise people’s values or communicate things that are not necessarily tangible, things that you can’t touch.

For the ‘Quantifying Quality’ project, Shani emptied the contents of her bag and rated the importance of each object on a scale of 1-10! Maths, cross stitch and everyday objects helped Shani to make digital print patterns from the things she valued.
What do you think makes you a good designer?

For me it started with curiosity, wondering; what would happen if? What if this existed? Or what if it didn’t have to be that way? – asking a lot of questions. But also, having a mind to see what it might be like, thinking of the future. Not just assuming that everything has to stay the way it is.

“Observational skills are really important because if you don’t notice any problems, you won’t make anything.”

Presentation and communication are key. I’m learning now that I’m not always going to be there when my work is being discussed, so having work that can say what you would say for you, having that skill is really important. But to be a good designer, you have to be direct with your intention. A lot of design isn’t necessarily for the greater good of mankind – it’s for convenience or to see if a technology can be applied somewhere. It’s fine, but at least be clear that that’s your goal so that you can get to a solution faster.

The final outcome- a series of shopping bags made from a delicate copper. The material refers to the one pence coin- our overlooked small change. She’s created a non-practical product because she wants to send a message through her design about shopping centres. Should we still keep designing retail spaces that look beautiful but take no account of the diversity of local neighbourhoods?
What’s next?

It’s less about working for a product design company who wants to be world dominant. It’s more about having an idea and being able to see it through, where you can see the outcome and say, oh I made that. It’s quite cool to see other people using it or liking it.

I don’t want to work for myself, or to freelance. I actually enjoy doing things for other people.

“Ideally I’d work in a small company where everybody’s opinion has some kind of weight.”

Having briefs that are quite short are important; having control over at least my section of what I’m doing. Being able to do things for other people who aren’t necessarily very creative but they need someone to do that side of it. I think those things are the most important.

Explore more of Shani’s work on Tumblr


Find out more about the course Shani studied:

BA (Hons) Product Design

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