Doesn’t time just fly? A new generation of BA Design students is nearing graduation and getting ready for its final year show. Let’s meet them, then! Today, we are talking to 3rd year BA Design student Justin Ramsden, who works as a LEGO model designer and enjoys photography in his spare time.
Why did you choose to study at Goldsmiths Design?
I chose it due to its multi-disciplinary approach to the subject – I feel that the industry is becoming more multidisciplinary and requires graduates to have an array of skills rather than being defined by one discipline. I have never wanted to be specified as just a graphic or product designer and through this course, I have been pushed out of my comfort zones and explored a full range of specialisms in order to create varied and greater informed project outcomes, along with the questioning my work on a social and ethical scale. I have then applied these techniques to my professional practice as it proves I can apply myself to any given design task.
Are you happy with your choice? How would you describe life as a student at Goldsmiths Design to prospective students?
I am extremely happy with my choice to study Design at Goldsmiths as it has exceeded all my expectations. Not only do I now class both New Cross and the Design studio as ‘second homes’, but also life as a Goldsmiths student, especially within Design is intensely brilliant. I feel part of something much bigger. There is not only an excellent group of tutors who are always there for you whilst navigating through the weird and wonderful ideas that we generate, but there is also a chance to learn new (and develop) old skills in the excellent workshops – all whilst being in a supportive studio environment where you are encouraged to bounce thoughts off your fellow peers. However as with most things, its definitely a case of taking the rough with the smooth – there have been up’s and down’s within the course, but where would be the fun in just plain sailing!
What are you working on for your graduation project?
I believe that there is a human desire for destruction, which is deeply embedded within our psyche and can be explored through two of Kant’s ‘sublime’ sensations – that of the ‘terrifying’ and the ‘splendid’. For my graduation project, I am trying to design spectated events as ‘schadenfreude’ (in which we experience a feeling of pleasure produced from seeing the misfortune of others) as a way of experiencing a sense of thrill and entertainment by the consumption of visual or sensual disastrous events (particularly focused on aviation disasters) within a speculative environment. I feel by deliberately witnessing these tabooed ‘spectacles’, we are nurturing the mental and physiological fluidity that we need to deal with the unexpected in the real world and ultimately feel ‘more alive’.
What do you plan to do after graduation? What kind of designer you want to be?
Recently I have been working with multiple experiential designers – if I could place my varied design practice into this line of work after graduation, I would be incredibly happy!
How did you end up working for LEGO? What does the activity of a professional LEGO model designer presume?
I have always been a huge fan of LEGO. I have never really grown out of this toy and see it more as a rapid prototyping material and whilst I was on my Foundation Art & Design course, I constructed a full size bust of the late Amy Winehouse (before she died) out of LEGO. This gained a huge amount of press, one thing led to another and I was offered a job at LEGO Studios Windsor as a professional LEGO model designer. In this role, I have to evaluate and interpret individual architectural structures and then design and represent them in LEGO bricks at a variety of scales. It meant that I’ve had to take part in the installation of LEGO models in the United Kingdom and overseas, along with taking part in PR stunts for both local and international press. I am quite pleased to say that examples of my models can be seen in multiple countries, including: Canada, the United States of America, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom.
What are your favourite subjects to photograph?
Before I moved to London, I originally wanted to be a live music photographer and used to get plenty of practice taking photos of bands such as the Kaiser Chiefs, White Lies and Maxïmo Park on a weekly basis. When I moved down for University, it was a lot harder to gain the photo passes for concerts due to such high competition; combined with plenty of design work from the course, my time to maintain this activity diminished, however my passion for photography has always remained. I have always been interested in taking photos of those tiny mundane scenes and objects that represent the obscure yet traditional British culture within the derelict urban landscapes of North-East England.
(Interview by Nadia Barbu. Photos courtesy of Justin Ramsden.)