28-year old Ophélie Jaret, a graduate of L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, won the public vote at Design L’Expo 2019 (10,000 visitors) for her project “Smile in the Light”. It is the fruits of long months of hard work and soul-searching about her vision of design and the role of digital technology in cities. Let’s meet the woman who likes to think of herself as a “social happiness maker”.
A course of study with a strong professional emphasis
At the age of 21, Ophélie joined L’École de design Nantes Atlantique to do the BDes Interaction Design followed by a Design and Innovation Management MDes. These 5 years were very instructive. What impressed her most was the fact that most of her teachers were themselves Designers. Thanks to the school’s reputation, she soon built a strong network. Another advantage of her course: the work-study program and the wide variety of workshops.
“The school regularly organized workshops for students from different design courses which is really rewarding. L’École de design Nantes Atlantique is the only school to offer a work-study program for the two last years of Master’s. It’s an amazing employment opportunity”.
Ophélie therefore divided her time between Schneider Electric in Grenoble (6 weeks) and school (3 weeks). This pace allowed her to work on long-term projects and to develop her end of studies project “Smile in the Light”.
An optimistic Designer
Ophélie is an enthusiast, cheerful young woman whose aim is always to make people smile. In fact, that’s precisely what motivates and feeds her vision of design.
“We live in an individualistic and pessimistic society where people no longer smile at each other because they are afraid or because of inward-looking attitudes caused by screens”.
She made this observation following a field survey. In a whole day spent walking round the city, Ophélie only got 9 smiles.
“I felt the need to rebuild social ties, to help people live in harmony together. So, I chose social design and I define myself as an optimistic Designer. I want to drive innovation towards a shared society focused on individual and collective wellbeing”.
This desire is the fruit of long months of research and soul-searching about how people can live together more happily. Indeed, she wrote her dissertation on “Happiness in society”. Even though people are in search of individual happiness, this also entails the community by creating citizens who play an active role in society.
“That’s why I have decided to become a social happiness maker using design thinking, but I also invite people to interact so that every user can become an active member of society.”
Her work is inspired by the Fun Theory movement, a group of Designers and developers created by Volkswagen. It addresses societal issues by injecting fun into the city to encourage people to be good citizens (both in terms of other people and the environment).
And her end of studies project is certainly fun!
“Smile in the Light”: a physical digital experience
In order to address the issues of our individualistic society, Ophélie therefore came up with the idea of “Smile in the Light”. The principle: projecting interactive games based on classic arcade games like tetris and pong while users are waiting on tramway platforms for long periods in the evening.
This technical project of recording and projection lets people play by moving around on the platform. It is the result of teamwork with Civiclab in Grenoble, with whose help Ophélie was able to set up a project team made up of developers and design professionals. For this, the young Designer also won the Civiclab prize. “Smile in the Light” helps create social interactions and awakens people’s conviviality so that everyone goes home… with a smile!
“I wanted to provide a social experience based on playing, as playing games brings people together and is timeless. Playing breaks down barriers, it’s a universal language. This experience transforms the user into an actor and helps them realize that each of us can decide to live in harmony with others.”
Presented at the ninth edition of Design L’Expo 2019 organized by L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, “Smile in the Light” won the people’s choice award. Open from early December 2019 to March 2020 at the heart of the creative district on Ile de Nantes, the exhibition is now travelling around France and internationally.
Happy and proud to have obtained this prize, it has really stimulated her entrepreneurial spirit. A self-employed Designer, Ophélie wants to continue injecting fun and games into her solutions and showing that digital technology can enhance a city. There are very few female designers in the digital sector… another exception for this woman who is developing a really fun design project!