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Posted 23.08.17

Award-winning industry experience for crafts student

By Kat Peberdy

We caught up with Rachel Ronnie, a BA (Hons) 3D Design Crafts student specialising in combining digital processes with traditional ways of working, who recently spent a week with the innovative and award-winning furniture manufacturer Vitra.

A Swiss company dedicated to improving the quality of life through the power of design, Vitra's products are installed worldwide by architects, companies and private users to build inspirational spaces for living, working and shopping as well as public areas.

Rachel spent a week in their creative office space in London, working on their designs and picking up valuable workplace skills...

Hi Rachel, so tell us how you secured a placement at Vitra and why they appealed to you.

I came across the placement very last minute, I already had accommodation arranged in London for three weeks and I'd been following Vitra on Instagram for a while and really liked their work. So I decided to email my CV to them enquiring about the possibility of spending some time with them while I was in London, and I heard back the next day.

Vitra at Milan Design Week 2017

What was an average day like during your placement?

The days went by really quickly! It was pretty much all computer-aided-design based, with a little bit of sketching involved (and a lot of maths!). I learned to use software such as AUTOCAD and Cinema4D, I was trained up quite quickly which was really good.

I became really familiar with one of their products Kado, a slimline and versatile structural system, and spent the week producing designs related to that, which was really exciting.

“It was a delight to spend a week with Rachel, who achieved a great deal of output in this short time. Her positive and inquisitive attitude were a great attribute to the team and we wish her all the best in her studies and career” 

– Alan Osborn, Design Manager, Vitra

Sounds like you've picked up a ton of new skills, what was the main highlight of your time at Vitra?

I couldn't really pick one highlight, but it was great working in Farringdon as it is full of interior/product design companies like Vitra, which was really inspiring. It was cool seeing all of Vitra’s products in their showroom, and working in a large office with lots of lovely people.

Rachel Ronnie working on her own designs in the Plymouth College of Art studios

How will this experience impact your ongoing practice?

Getting experience in the product design industry has been really helpful for me as it's a more specific career route that I'd like to pursue and helps develop my work on the 3D Design Crafts programme here at the college.

Vitra manufactures some of the most influential furniture designs in history, such as the Panton chair, and interning for them has given me new knowledge about product design.

"I'm going to Vancouver next term to study at Emily Carr University as part of the international exchange programme, as  recommended by my tutor."

How beneficial do you think placements like these are for students?

They give you a lot of confidence when it comes to applying for jobs, I'm already thinking about when I graduate next year and making sure my CV and portfolio are looking as good as possible in order to stand out in the industry.

I think it's really good to get the experience of working in the South West and in London too, they both have completely different working styles and environments.

Inside Vitra's London office space

So what's next for you?

I'm going to Vancouver to study at the prestigious Emily Carr University for a term as part of the international exchange programme as recommended by my tutor, I leave on the 30 August so really soon! When I graduate I'd like to study a Masters in product design but I'm still exploring all my options at the moment - there are so many possibilities.

Follow Rachel on Instagram: @rachelronniedesign