Jasper van ’t Wel studied product design at the University of Applied Sciences Arnhem Nijmegen (HAN). He followed the minor Co-Design Studio at Fundamentals Academy.
At school I missed being able to work for real clients and designing things that would really be used in practice. During my internship I did do some real projects, but only as an invisible assistent, I was’nt allowed to talk to clients. Also there was hardly any time to reflect. The great thing about Fundamentals is that you deal with real clients and get involved with all the aspects of the design process. For young professionals this is the perfect steppingstone between school and job. You talk to clients and try to find out what exactly they need. Clients of Fundamental appreciate working with us, students and young professionals, because we are able to think out of the box and often come up with innovating solutions.
I learned to start the design process in collaboration with the client. What is it the client needs? You don’t start from a theoretical point of view. For example if one of us said: ‘We think that the target group...’, the coaches interrupted us: ‘You think? Don’t think, don’t have any assumptions! Go and question your target group, interview them to find out. And by the way: is it clear to you who is your target group?’ During the international week we had to map out the hidden makers of Oslo. How do you find hidden handicraft persons in a town you don’t know? Of course we wanted to start doing desk research on our computers. But our coach Jens said: ‘No, go on the streets, ask people!’ That proved to be a really succesful research method.
The Co-design Minor is a kind of extensive pressure cooker. I learned a ton of things. The program is very intensive and takes more than 40 hours a week. We often cooked and ate together as well. Fundamentals challenges you to go one step further and give all you have. The training is not focussed on high marks or project results. The main goal is your self-development as a designer and as a person. It’s a very personal training in a very close and tightly-knit group. You also develop a network that way, I am still in touch with my group members. My multidisciplinary team was like a magic soup.