Every now and then we like to catch up with SA creatives doing their thing abroad. This week we’re interviewing Agata Karolina Niemkiewicz about her day job as a systems and product designer in Eindhoven. Here goes:
Between 10and5: Please let us know your official (or unofficial) job title.
Agata: My official title is Systems | Product Designer
10and5: What and where did you study?
Agata: I did my Bachelors in Brand Communication at Vega in Cape Town. I did my Masters Degree in Contextual Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven in The Netherlands.
10and5: What skills does it take to do what you do?
Agata: Time management, an eye for seeing the world differently, clear communication skills and an infinite work ethic.
10and5: What’s the most difficult part?
Agata: Learning how to deal with your own physical limitations and making time for yourself.
10and5: And the bit you most enjoy?
Agata: Everything. There are always good and bad times in projects, especially when I work in ceramics, but every stage of the process from the conceptualisation to the final execution of the work is rewarding. Watching your project grow, alter and become what it is in the end, is what makes it all worthwhile. Seeing people interact and be moved by the final outcome is always more than you originally imagined.
10and5: Weirdest task you’ve found yourself doing in the name of your profession?
Agata: There are many. Weirdest to date was wearing a birdcage on my head and being instructed to stand in a fountain in the middle of a shopping centre. I wish I had photos.
10and5: The main difference between working in SA vs Europe?
Agata: The European market is far more saturated by design, very been there – seen that. It asks a lot more from you as a designer to be able to create something that breaks through the clutter. You see a lot of mimicry which means you need to keep your story clear and have a really strong message. South Africa was always much more free and accepting, people are also a lot more humble. Both sides are wonderful in their own ways and I’m really happy I’ve been able to experience them.
10and5: Something you’ve learned during your time abroad that you didn’t
Agata: Everything that’s shaped me over the last two and a half years.
10and5: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Agata: I always wanted to be a designer, I wasn’t really sure what kind, I’m still not; that’s the beauty of creating systems, I’m not bound by one medium or profession, I execute my work in the medium that is befitting, which makes every step a challenge.
10and5: Advice to those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Agata: Do as much work as you can. Experiment constantly. Never leave the house without a camera or notebook, use your hands, and don’t get down when you’re struggling with a project, work even harder.
10and5: Your dream job?
Agata: The one I have right now, just with a bigger studio, people working for me and probably in a different city, maybe studios in multiple cities.
Find out more at www.agatakarolina.com or read about her fascinating thesis work “Remember Me, but ah, Forget My Fate” here for which Agata developed a system that records traces of people who have died alone or anonymously to create objects which tell their stories.
Image: Zelistra Louw Urn as part of “Remember Me, but ah, Forget My Fate”.
Copyright: Design Academy Eindhoven
Art Direction: Petra Janssen
Photographs: Vincent van Gurp