What type of courses did you follow?
I took two modules: one theory module looking at research methods used in the designer’s creative process, and another more practical module which involved carrying a project through to completion on the following theme: Design futuring the City. In addition to these modules, there were workshops for learning to use the equipment made available to us in the school, extra methodological workshops, English language support classes to learn how to write reports properly, as well as conferences presented at the university which we could get into for free thanks to our student status.
Could you tell us about an important project you completed during the semester?
The important project I completed this semester was the one on Design futuring the City. After a huge brainstorming session on this theme, we imagined endless possible futures for our civilization, then we chose a subject which we developed within the framework of our specialization, which for me is product design. I successfully completed this project working by myself. I had the support of my referent teacher, who was also a product designer. He gave me advice, guided me at times and assessed my work. During the lessons, we had activities which encouraged us to interact with students from different fields than our own in order to get different opinions about our project and force us to defend our ideas.
My project focused on bereavement. After a lot of research, testimonies, workshops plus my own trials, I fine-tuned my idea, which resulted in the creation of a sensory/sensitive product. The product is a portable object which uses the senses (smell and touch) to evoke memories of a deceased loved one. Each object is unique and can be easily transported and personalized. The idea was to market this object as a kit, which would include the object, related elements, the base and an instruction leaflet.
What similarities are there between the establishment and L’École de design?
As far as the lessons are concerned, we get one-to-one time with our referent teachers. All the teachers and lecturers are professionals involved in the world of design. As for the premises, each building on the campus is dedicated to a particular field. This is similar to L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, where the different Master’s programs are located in various laboratories depending on the specialties. In terms of the school’s equipment, the workshops are a bit more sizable at SHU as the building is bigger here. Bearing in mind that I was in the International Class last year, at both SHU and L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, there is a very important cultural mix. All the Master 1 students formed a single class, which included 11 different nationalities.
What differences are there between the establishment and L’École de design?
The differences between the two establishments are in the lessons. They are not organized by subject but by module. The lessons are less segmented. We had class from 10am to 5pm and during this time we had a presentation of the day’s activities, sessions with design professionals, then classes where we put into practice what we had learnt in the morning. Our timetable at SHU is lighter because most of the time we’re working independently (3 days out of 5). As for project presentations, our work was exhibited but we didn’t have to give an oral presentation – our projects had to be self-explanatory. In terms of grading, we didn’t actually get grades like in the French system, but rather appreciations concerning our skills. Finally, unlike at L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, we didn’t have the opportunity to carry out a project in partnership with a professional.
What did you get out of this semester at Sheffield Hallam University?
This semester at SHU taught me a lot. Firstly, I have a lot more confidence in myself and in my projects. I’ve gained new skills and new knowledge. I’m much better organized in my work seeing as I had to work independently most of the time. I feel more comfortable speaking in public (for a shy person like me, that’s a big deal). I’ve managed to build myself a network in the design world. I’ve also improved my English level.
What did you learn from your time in the UK?
The UK contributed to my personal development and made me much more open-minded. I became more autonomous and independent. I had the chance to travel and discover this country which was new to me. Even though English culture isn’t that different from French culture, I still had to adapt to these differences and that was rewarding. What’s more, I shared accommodation with other Erasmus students (two Spanish girls and two Finnish girls), which helped me be more open to other cultures as well as enlarging my network. In a nutshell, it was a very rich social and personal learning curve.
What about the facilities at Sheffield Hallam University?
The school is really good, the facilities are perfect. Everything we need to succeed is at our disposal. The library is open 24/7 with access to all the facilities (software, printers, books, etc.) There is also a student building where they hold parties, concerts and other events.
And what do you think of Sheffield?
I didn’t know the city of Sheffield so I discovered it without any prejudices or specific expectations. Sheffield is a student city and a lot of events are organized specially for the students. It’s a rapidly expanding city. Even though it’s the 5th biggest city in England, it remains one of the least expensive. Sheffield is a very green city: there are more trees per capita in this city than in any other European city. There are many parks and gardens and part of it lies in the Peak District national park. Sheffield is a great place to live. In addition, Sheffield is ideally situated for travelling cheaply. I was able to visit Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester and Chatsworth.