In the Summer of 2017, I moved from Vancouver to Tokyo to join UltraSuperNew’s design team as a Creative Design Intern. I worked closely with a team of designers, researchers, writers and managers, I contributed to design strategy and innovation projects for brands like Adobe, Audi, Beats by Dre, and Tag Heuer.
Not all of the work has been made public yet, I cannot disclose some of the details about my work at this time. I am however able to speak more in-depth about my experience privately or in-person.
DJ Snake has had a long and arduous rise to stardom. One where he had to overcome insurmountable odds and prove plenty of people wrong. In this short film entitled ‘Above The Noise' DJ Snake and Beats take us through that journey from the bottom to the very top of one of Paris' greatest monuments.
Role: Video Editor
Beats opened a pop-up store to promote the noise cancellation ability of the new Studio 3 Wireless with MC Mamushi. At pop-up store, people got to experience the headphones in various environments to show how exceptional the PURE ANC function is.
Role: Video Editor
In order to promote the 2017 Adobe MAX Japan event in Yokohama, I helped UltraSuperNew initiate the “MAX Challenge” – a competition challenging users in Japan to use their creativity to redefine the Adobe MAX logo in their own perspective.
Role: Working alongside the content strategy and social media teams, I helped produce this short animated GIF showcasing previous max challenge submissions using keyframes in Photoshop.
Role: Graphic Designer
The UltraSuperNew Gallery is an interactive space that curates and brings together creatives from all backgrounds to ignite discovery, imagination, and conversation. It serves as a launchpad for experimental collaborations between artists, designers, and innovators alike.
Role: Working with the senior designer, I helped propose design updates to the gallery website in order to bring it closer to the main agency website in terms of branding. I designed mid-fidelity mockups for both web and mobile platforms as well as proposed some key visuals from previous exhibitions to showcase.
Role: UI/UX Designer
Communication and Feedback:
A frequent struggle I had was understanding and communicating during stakeholder meetings due to my limited knowledge of the Japanese language. I had to rely on my senior designer to help me communicate the design decisions I had made meaning that we needed to be on the same page.
My senior designer taught me that I needed to provide a strong context for my design explorations which meant referring back to the original goal and user outcomes of the exploration in order to help encourage relevant feedback. Feedback is invaluable, but getting clear on the feedback that you need is just as important. Understanding that people’s time is precious, being clear about what you need from a meeting, review, or critique is invaluable.
Learn about the culture in which you are designing for:
Another thing I learned from all of this, is that I should always seek to understand the relationship between the environment, the behaviors and the cultures that surround the products, systems, and processes I design.
This is because the output of my work are inevitably influenced by cultural forces that influence me. In turn the products we design also affect culture. My senior designer encouraged me to take some time and participate in events hosted by the larger design community in Tokyo. This helped me become acutely aware of both the greater culture in which I was operating within and the cultures for which I was designing.
Outside of the office, I visited local design conferences and meet-ups held by AQWorks, Indeed, Pivotal Labs, GoodPatch to help me broaden my perspective and understand what design biases I possessed.
Fail fast in order to succeed sooner:
At UltraSuperNew, in no way we expect our first attempt at a challenge to nail it. Nor our second, and probably not our third. From the outset, our mentality is that we will quickly come up with several designs or prototypes and test them in order to get rapid feedback, with the understanding that this might well require us to rework some or all of our previous attempts.
Working with the team, I learned this structured approach that resulted in fast, incremental improvement which ultimately led to success with our proposals to clients.
At the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to present my contributions to not only the company, but the larger design community in Tokyo. I would like to thank Valentine Triponez, Mike Tasset, Malo Yamakado, Shimpei Kimura, François Claverie and many more individuals at UltraSuperNew for giving me this incredible learning experience.