Hi, I am Landon Ding, an Interior Architecture and Design student at Temasek Polytechnic who has recently joined TheNode. It has given me the opportunity to experience a 2 week boot camp at Google Pacific Asia with fellow design students and mentors from the industry.
September 2017; One of the most memorable time periods of life as a student. Possibly my first and last time in Google’s headquarters in Singapore, I had spent a solid 2 weeks at the vibrant office. To call it an eye-opening experience is a severe understatement. A team of 5, including me, was tasked to look at opportunities to create innovations based on a low tech smart office concept.
I remember the first time I stepped into Google. My eyes lit up. High ceilings, bright and energetic colours and the Googlers (people who worked at Google) were from all races. 50+ races in Google to be exact. Everyone is cheerful and enthusiastic. It’s like stepping into a foreign country. The lively and vibrant atmosphere makes the whole office seem so motivated and optimistic. Our lunch and break-times were also joyful. We could eat anything we wanted! It was kind of embarrassing that I always took 2 plates of food for lunch. Well, I guess my only excuse is that the brain is a muscle and I had been exercising it. And as the saying goes “Design is 90% problem solving”.
So, we started with the research phase. I admit, we did think to ourselves that a tech giant like Google would never trust a bunch of students like us. Nonetheless, we kept our eyes peeled and made recordings and observations of everything we could discover. From human behaviour to furniture ergonomics. Soon, we found that there were opportunities for ideas on some low tech smart solutions. We went ahead interviewing Googlers and then brainstormed for ideas.
Industry mentors were also there to guide us along our way. They are Mattijs Rikken, co-founder and designer at Studio DAM; Narita Cheah, co-founder & director at Paperspace Pte Ltd; Chris Lefteri, director at Chris Lefteri Design Ltd; Sri Ranjini, research manger at J.D. Power; Alex Brown, an architect; Xiao Xuan Yu, project manager at CBRE; And last but not least, Henry Satyadi, assistant project manager at CBRE. They were very crucial in the development phase as we had faced problems in the further development phase. As the mentors were dynamic and had different strengths, we tapped on their capabilities. One being the expert knowledge of social behaviour and another serving as a guidance for design and teamwork.
Despite it being a mere 2 weeks as compared to the many months of learning in school, the experience gained working in real life conditions is second to none. I had learnt that in life, it is not so much the hard skills that matter, but the soft skills- such as leadership and working well with others. Nobody teaches one that, one figures it out through trials and experiences. And the Google experience has been a huge teacher.
To sum it up, my already high expectations of what the project was going to be like working at Google were trumped. I cannot put into words how eye-opening the experience was. It is not just the experiential part of soaking in the design ingenuity at Google’s office. It is the collaboration and interaction I had with not only students from other schools but with practicing designers. The amount of critical thinking and problem solving involved also gave new insight and experiential knowledge. It was then that I truly realized the importance of soft skills and conveying and articulating ideas.
Reposted with permission, original article posted on: