My edgy stay

As an interaction design student from France, I had the chance to do a three month internship in R8 Edge, Porsgrunn, in the South-East of Norway. I wanted to travel to Norway, explore Scandinavia and learn about a new culture.

Overview of the office. From left to right : Mario Michelli, Mari Tollefsen Schia, Trine Tollefsen, Thomas Flogstad.

A “new” agency

There’s plenty of things to say about a company like R8 Edge
First of all, they are a fusion between two great Norwegian agencies. Edison Menlo and onezero, two competitors that became partners and merged into an agency with a wide range of skill sets.

Edison Menlo and onezero, two competitors that became partners.

I am pretty sure you’ve heard about R8 Edge for their amazing work on Arkaden. They redesigned the identity of the Skien shopping mall for it’s re-opening. If you are familiar with their work on this project you know that the two of them united can create really good and beautiful work.

In the process of rebranding the R8 Group identity, Edge also had the chance to redefine it’s own.

My first professional experience

As a student, learning from every one of them was a blessing. As it’s my first experience into the professional field, when I arrived three months ago I knew almost nothing about it. This was, I think a really interesting position.

When you start at the very bottom of the ladder, the only thing you can do is climb it, right ? Because if you start by knowing almost nothing, then you get to learn really fast.

As an interaction design student, I learn different things in school in a quite wide perspective, but without getting that deep into any subject. Learning how to apply my skills into a project with real clients is really exciting. It allows me to express myself fully and really delve into things. It also helps me to define what I am not that good at yet and what I can develop as a Designer.

Understanding the process

The first thing I had to understand was the idea of having a budget. Trying to do the best work in the time you have available is a difficult task. It is not the same process that I am used to at school and in my personal projects. As a student, I have the chance to work on projects with no time limits but a deadline way into the future. I understand that a deadline is necessary to finish a project and to be productive, and seeing the designers and developers produce such good work under the tight deadlines they have was very inspiring.

Sometimes the final design is far away from the initial idea because the client has other ideas, this is also something that is new to me, as a student I get to create what I like without anyone else having opinions about it.

Stig Andersen, a graphic and interaction designer from onezero showed me that sometimes the there is a big difference between the designer’s propositions and the final design.

Using the rights tools

I always avoided to use any CMS or templates during my schools projects. I always thought it was kind of “cheating” to use such a comfortable way of producing websites. I even avoided Bootstrap! On my projects I focused only on furthering my design and development skills. I didn’t want to rely on anything else. I can see now how much time I lost on some projects were I should have used the right tools available to me.

Now designing for a real client I can’t use the same ideology. I was introduced to Beaver Builder, a Wordpress plugin that allows you to create a website quite easily. The first two hours I used it, I didn’t like it. But then I understood how efficient it could be. Create a website from scratch takes a lot of time and then most of the clients need a back office to update their website. Even though development skills are needed to use Beaver Builder it’s quite easy to show the client how it works so they can do it themselves and be way more independent. Most of the time, the most relevant tool to use on a project is a CMS or Bootstrap.

In Edge, I mostly do Motion Design. On a project, the deadline was to short for us to create something from scratch. Along with Mario Michelli, Senior Developer and Planner, we realised that we had to use an After Effects template. The result was way more efficient than if we had built it ourselves and gone over budget!

Motion video we made out of a template for the Arkaden shopping mall reopening.

Using my school education

Being creative is not an easy thing at all. Everything you produce is a piece of your personality and imagination. Sometimes you’re doing total crap and you don’t even notice it. That’s where Atle Barcley the Creative Leader or Espen Grimsgaard the Digital Leader comes in and tells you to change your designs!

Atle Barcley without a colourful shirt.

One teacher once told us about Gestalt principles, the fact that great design is about really simple elements put together. It also says that you should use as little effort as possible to distinguish two different elements. For me it is a quite useful principle to remember in order to take a step back on what I am doing.

A great experience

I learned a lot of things during those three months. I lived as a foreigner in Norway and learned about the Scandinavian culture and was surprised by some of it actually.

I didn’t just meet professional people or colleagues, I also met and got to know people that I now consider as friends. They shared a lot with me about their lives, their experiences and culture.

They told me a lot about about their beloved country which is insanely beautiful by the way. I’m quite lucky to have been part of it for a while. I also had the chance to meet people from South Africa or England now living in Norway. I spent a weekend with them in the forest, in a cabin without water or electricity, drinking and washing from the river! I heard the silence of true nature and had a swim in a quiet lake in the middle of it. We also hit the road with Mario Michelli up to Preikestolen!

Mario Michelli on the edge.

Awesome view from Gaustatoppen, midnight hike we did with Espen Grimsgaard and Mari Tollefsen Schia.

Now I am going back to France with a lot of new things in my head. So thank you guys for taking care of me that whole time.

I am going to miss you !