Third-year Design Course, Department of Arts students are split into separate research groups and given different seminar topics to explore. The Ikemura Seminar is ideally located at the Shonan campus and works closely with the local community. Students apply their design skills and knowledge to local design issues and challenges, and lend their support by getting involved in local programs.
For example, we worked closely with the municipal authorities of Hiratsuka (where the Shonan campus is located) to develop a mascot type character for use in promotional campaigns to encourage consumers to purchase local produce and local goods. Meanwhile, at a home for the elderly in nearby Hadano, design students teamed up with children from local primary schools on an art project that involved painting sunflowers on a 50-meter stretch of exterior wall to cheer up the residents.
For the students, these local projects are a great way to meet people and develop teamwork and collaboration skills, as well as learning about the very genuine public benefits of design through "entertainment design" expression.
Working alongside Japanese students gave me the opportunity to learn about Japanese ideas and design principles, particularly the notion of simplicity and the concept of "kimokawaii (both repellant and attractive at the same time)." It also gave me a new perspective on the Thai notions of intricacy and detail. I am keen to find work in Japan one day, but for now, I am honing my skills and working on three-dimensional design expressions with a view to the future.
My Seminar is great fun because we all study together, including the international students. For example, we were asked by a local disabled support group to design a logo for their shop, and this involved many meetings with their organization as well as the municipal authorities. Every student came up with their own unique logo designs, and it was interesting to see how the international students had quite different ideas to the Japanese students, and the creative stimulus that this provided. The Seminar is a great way to give concrete form to your ideas.