Design School


Stef Smith

Industrial Design & Technology BA

"I think that the Design School produces incredibly versatile designers. We are taught every aspect of design and I think this makes us ready for the ‘real world'."

What have you gained from The Design School experience?

I think that The Design School produces incredibly versatile designers. We are taught every aspect of design and I think this makes us ready for the ‘real world’. It has given me a very diverse skill base that will allow me to pursue a variety of professional pathways. 

What is your best memory of your time at the School?

In terms of design, my favourite memory comes from the SEAT competition that myself and eleven others competed in and were lucky enough to win. The competition involved re-branding SEAT from ‘Autoemocion’ to ‘Enjoyneering’. We created a short promotional video which was presented to a number of SEAT employees, including the head of SEAT UK and employees from Mediacom. This video then went on to win the overall competition and we celebrated at the MK Dons stadium with members of SEAT!

What are you hoping to do after graduation?

My initial plans post-graduation are to head to Canada for winter as snowboarding is something I have learnt during my time at Loughborough and it has definitely become a favourite hobby of mine. As I have a two year visa, the plan is to head down to Toronto or Vancouver for a design job post-season. 


Stef is currently in Whistler 

Do you hope to pursue a career in design? What industry interests you?

Definitely! I did my placement at Numatic International Ltd. (home of the Henry vacuum cleaner) and have discovered a huge interest in vacuum cleaner design. I plan to work in product areas where people’s needs and problems are considered, such as medicinal, consumer etc.

What advice would you give to people aspiring to study design at university?

Do it! If you have a passion for design and a passion for improving people's lives through design, studying it at university is the best pathway to this. It will be an intense few years but it will put you in the best position.

What is your favourite part of the design process?

I love making things so I'd probably say the prototyping stages of design development. It is a quick but extremely helpful way of testing out design changes and understanding their effect on the overall design. On placement we had a workshop attached to our R&D office which allowed sketch or computer design work to transform into a 3D mock-up extremely quickly. 

What is your favourite design style?

At the moment, I am pinning a lot of 'simply styled, simply formed' products on Pinterest. Design trends are constantly changing and simplistic design is really big at the moment. It can result in beautiful products that enable seamless interaction and have a high level of usability.

Particular designers that inspire me include Ross Lovegrove with his stunning, flowing forms; Zaha Hadid with her breath-taking, futuristic building creations and James Dyson with his impeccably functional yet extremely well-crafted products. 

There are a range of materials that I enjoy using, including metal, woods and plastics. With 3D printers getting cheaper, more accessible and faster, I am excited by the possibilities that they are beginning to offer. They enable designers to work on something in CAD and print the design in just a few hours. This allows for design development, testing and also for products to be finished and presented to customers for design feedback. 

Which modules have you most enjoyed doing over the course?

Over the three years, my favourite modules were Design Manufacturing Technologies (DMT), Dissertation and Final Year Design Practice. DMT is a special module as it teaches us great manufacturing skills that other designers may only experience in the real world. DMT set me up for my placement year tremendously as it provided a basic knowledge of manufacturing.

I also really enjoyed writing my dissertation as it was an opportunity for in-depth research on a design subject that I find fascinating – British Design and Manufacture. I also had the opportunity to investigate British manufacturing of vacuum cleaners, which are an 'unusual' interest of mine! I will never forget telling my dad that I wanted to study design at university – his response was, "Great! I challenge you to try and make a silent vacuum cleaner, or as close to!"

Final Year Design Practice is the biggest and arguably the most significant module I undertook at Loughborough. The module brings together every skill learnt for the duration of the course and really shapes you into an Industrial Designer. You get chance to work on every aspect of a project from research and development to user testing and commercial manufacturing consideration.