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Design Experience Made in France


Ainsi, dans cet art, les tableaux de la nature, les actions des humains, tous les phénomènes concrets ne sauraient se manifester eux-mêmes; ce sont là des apparences sensibles destinées à représenter leurs affinités ésotériques avec des Idées primordiales. / Jean Moréas «Le Symbolisme»

Last week’s designers seminar we are covering in this article was devoted to design studies form France. Our designer Toma Reznichenko gladly shared her impressions of the internship program at INSA university in Strasbourg and how they see architecture and design in the country of fashion and beauty. This is an interesting topic to talk about from our point of view as Yalantis clients come from different countries and we all know that the concept of good design and its creation may sometimes differ depending on the region on the map. So we were listening with great interest to what Toma had to say about all that.


Diligent Ukrainian students go to France

When I studied at the university I surely did my best to become a professional. That’s why at the 3rd year I got a chance to participate in French internship program. It was something you just can’t miss.

INSA university of engineering and architecture has a bit different approach to studying process than that of my Building Academy in Dnepropetrovsk. It is more practical, more student oriented and gives more freedom of self expression to young learners. So I was happy to experience all that and learned a lot.

One of the most interesting practical tasks that French students get to do is driving to the forest for a couple of days for the sake of new impressions and their reflection in art. The first day the students were supposed to walk around the forest looking for an interesting place they had to choose to do the project. On the second day they had to start developing their projects. The idea was to find some area or an element and emphasize it using additional things like ropes, paint, knife, thread. This experience taught us to see distinctive beautiful features around us and add a bit of our own ideas to sharpen them.


Seize the day and catch the shape

Another interesting practical task French guys are lucky to do in class is drawing. The idea is to put someone in the center of the classroom and make him move. As this person is changing poses all the rest are trying to catch the movement and reflect it on a piece of paper within 30 seconds. Such exercise in drawing develops attention to details and skills of putting emphasis on the key moments.

We did this as well during our seminar, one of our designers playing the role of a model and the rest of us catching the moments. And here are our scrabbles.


In the beginning of the studying process the students receive a task on understanding the space. What they have to do is to go out. There are lots of beautiful buildings distinguished from architectural point of view in Strasbourg, one of which the students have to visit. So they wander round this building for two hours. Back at the university the learners are given the task to design a paper model of that building having only 20 minutes to do the job. Sounds like hard, right?

Everything is based on symbols

The last thing I’d like to tell about is learning the particularities of human perception of things around based on symbols. A curious fact is that all around us is perceived through the lens of symbols we formed while growing up in society, listening to people's opinions, following most general ideas of the social circle and traditional ways the things around us are made.

For example, the structure of a street is something everyone has an idea of. We all know what it looks like and what to expect from a street. But how can we use this in design? Street is associated with perspective that may draw you in the direction of a road that narrows at the end and you feel like walking this road unless there is a wall in front of you. Such particularity can be emphasized by putting an accent on the entrance which deepens seeming alluring. Firstly, because there is no hindrance to stop you from moving. Secondly, in order to have the effect of dipping in, the entrance should be situated right in the point of massive movement, not in the blind corner.

What we were trying to learn at the internship program is to focus our attention on those details, on what the things depicted for a definite reason are supposed to look like and what real items have in common. Strangely, even though we all see those features and definitely have an idea of the shape of a particular thing in our minds, we never really pay attention to such details.

While drawing dividers on a side menu, we need to know that the same lines everywhere deprive a particular option from the accent it needs for the sake of convertibility. So we can avoid all the lines that divide options of the menu and allocate only one separating it from the others with a line. Another idea is to put emphasis on the lines’ length.

Let’s imagine a huge gray square and a little one in a single picture. No matter how huge a huge square is, it will never be paid attention to and even noticed if the color of the little square is red.

As designers, we find understanding symbols very important for our work. In order to design app interface or make a choice of color for a particular button on the screen, we have to think about what a user might like and make this flow into what is called «user friendly». For this reason studying human perception of things is very useful.


By Toma Reznichenko, Designer at Yalantis