Denizay Apusoglu, industrial designer at Geberit in Zurich, Switzerland
1 programme, 2 professions: Design and Technology Futures
The curriculum of a truly interdisciplinary programme Design and Technology Futures MSc draws from three fields: design, technology and entrepreneurship. It merges the competences and skills of the three fields creating endless career paths possibilities.
The two materials feature two TalTech alumni and their very different career development after graduating from the same programme.
The second story is of Denizay Apusoglu, who graduated with cum laude from Design and Technology futures MSc programme at TalTech in 2018. Currently Denizay is working as an industrial designer at Geberit in Zurich,Switzerland and she is the co-founder of Studio Eidola.
How it all started
I was born in Turkey and lived in Canakkale, the legendary city of ancient Troy, until I moved to Istanbul for my Bachelors studies in engineering. My transition to design can probably be linked to my active childhood when I was inspired by the coastal atmosphere and encouraged to create and explore. I was fond of writing stories, poems and performing theatre and dance shows. I was always a voracious reader and still am to this day. My passion is exploring the transformation and translation of ideas into forms, textures and spaces.
A long way of becoming a designer
Becoming a designer was not a straightforward way, and therefore it is a long story. I was a successful student and very focused on good grades in my high-school years. I found the education system in Turkey was overly focused on grades, rather than personal development. I was going with the flow and did not actually think which occupation I would enjoy in the future. I finished my high school as the top student, achieved a good grade in the nationwide university entrance exam and chose what was hard to get in — I have a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Istanbul Technical University.
Working in marketing or sales department of a big corporation and then becoming a manager was the most popular goal among my fellow students; therefore, I thought that could be my path too. We participated in many panels and conferences to listen to real-life stories about what is the most direct way to become a manager in a large company, which I now find very absurd.
In the last year of my studies, I did a long-term internship in the sales and marketing operations department in the headquarter of one of the biggest multinational technology companies in Istanbul. For me it was not satisfactory, I found it very repetitive and lacking creativity. I felt the urge to do something else, but I was not sure what. During my internship, I started to learn graphic design software and did digital collages in my free time for fun. Later I volunteered to do graphics for a non-profit organisation. I enjoyed it much more, so the idea of studying design as my master’s became clear to me. I started with learning graphic design by myself, however I wanted to be a product designer. At this time, it was not possible for me to get into a design department in Turkey since I did not have a Bachelor’s degree in design, and I did not want to enter the same university exam again. My only option was to go abroad, therefore I searched and applied to different universities in Europe. I got accepted in Design and Technology Futures programme. During my studies I did an exchange semester in Paris at ENSCI, in the industrial design department. After that, I did an internship in Berlin with a product designer. I participated in many workshops in different countries around Baltic region and worked with industrial partners and other design students.
Design and Technology Futures MSc
Design and Technology Futures programme was the perfect place for me to practice design in interdisciplinary teams. Mixing together with people from other disciplines in design studios is the best simulation of what you could face in a real life. I think the fact that DTF is a joint degree, offered by TalTech and EKA (Estonian Academy of Arts) is very valuable, since I had the options to take some extra classes according to my particular interests and benefited from the opportunities from both universities. It gave me flexibility to be able to tailor my education in the direction I preferred. Except for Design studios, some of the other memorable interesting courses for me were design anthropology and Integrated design management. I also thank my thesis supervisor and design studio tutor Ruth-Helene Melioranski for her guidance.
Design product and personal style
My focus areas respectively are product design, design research and digital fabrication. I would describe myself as a multidisciplinary designer who is fascinated by doing hands-on conceptual work. I am exploring materials, techniques and narratives, in communication with behavioral and spatial relationships. Experimental form finding, material expressions and fictional social interventions are the methods of my creative process to imagine new possibilities.
When it comes to my style, I would rather have other people to describe it. I am aware having a unique style is something designers or architects desire to achieve. However, I am not afraid of changing my style, since I strive to push the boundaries. My motivation choosing to be a designer was being able keep learning and exploring different subjects, scales and methods with each new project. It is sometimes inevitable to have projects that look in a certain way since the same person is working on them, however I would aim to be able to develop and transform my design approach. Maybe then I can create a method for this transformation ability and could call it my style, but it would not be something so easy to detect.
Defining a designer
I would say that designers are commonly understood as communicating ideas using visual, spatial and textural communication techniques. The effectiveness of these communications can be used as a metric to determine the merit of the work. The approach of design, therefore the designers’ role, is also changing over time. I would like to refer Poala Antonelli, the design curator of MOMA New York. As Antonelli states that the contemporary design approaches are critical, activist, organic and political; they are about tinkering, about problem finding and problem framing more than problem solving, about functional social fictions rather than science fiction, they are guided by ethics more than by user-friendliness. Design becomes a medium in the service of society rather than solution-making expertise in the service of industry.
I get inspired the most through reading, experimenting and working with my hands. Currently, I find the most inspiration in understanding and manipulating the material factors, exploring and analysing traditional craftsmanship technics as well as investigating the narratives related to the subjects that I am working on. My current favourite topics are new materialism and speculative realism which I enjoy reading about.
My personal favourite contemporary designers/design studios are Max Lamb, Soft Baroque, Formafantasma, Sigve Knutson, Studio Swine, Nendo.
Don’t get too comfortable in any situation
Living and working in the countries with different cultural backgrounds helped me develop a critical conscious thinking and quickly adapt and react on new situations. Moving to a new place helps you to shake up your routine and feel refreshed. It felt like I was challenging myself every time I moved, therefore it made me open to challenges in my work too. Along the way, I taught myself not to get too comfortable in any situation and I think it is a way to stay inspired and creative. Moreover, I am grateful to have been in the presence of so many other driven and creative people in the locations I was. Currently I live in Zürich, Switzerland. I moved here two years ago for a temporary position in Rapid Prototyping Lab of Architecture Department in ETH Zürich and worked as a freelance designer after I finished at ETH. Since the beginning of 2020 summer, I have been working on laying the foundations of STUDIO EIDOLA with my colleague, where we work within the fields of design, architecture and craftsmanship. Recently I started working in Geberit as an industrial designer.
Long winters and slow sunsets
My time in Estonia was a great experience. I love Estonia’s serene natural beauty, quite the contrast from the big city life, traffic and noise of Istanbul I left behind. The long and introverted winters helped me to focus and explore myself and what I wanted to develop in my work. I really appreciate the many opportunities offered to me in Estonia, they helped me to define my career path. I really miss the sauna culture and the slow summer sunsets at Pirita Beach!