My name is Federica Caso. I’ve always found it a bit tricky to respond to nationality questions, because my parents are half-Venezuelan and half-Italian, but I was born in the United States. I am 23 years old and have already lived in Caracas, Miami, Florence, Segovia and Madrid. Currently, I’m in my final year of the Bachelor in Design at IE University.
I chose this degree because it was the most diverse and insightful design program available, and IE University gave me the opportunity to broaden my skill set in both business and the arts—which is unique to a design degree.
Growing up, I was always fascinated by design. My love for drawing, painting, and making sculptures comes from the fact that art was such a strong presence throughout my life. My grandfather was an architect, and I remember looking at his floor plans and being intrigued at how these drawings would become where we would live or a place where we would spend time. I was introduced to the world of art at a very young age and while I was living in Venezuela, I took art classes and began to explore this passion.
When my family moved to Miami, I had a difficult time with the transition. My connection to art and design flourished there because it reminded me of Venezuela, which I considered home. I decided to attend a magnet school so that I could pour myself into the arts, and three years before I left for college, I was designing models and floor plans just like the ones my grandfather used to show me.
A whole new world: my IE University journey
I began my journey in Segovia, which was an exciting transition. The campus and the small-town charm allowed us to form a close-knit community. It was easy to feel connected to other students, especially since I wasn’t the only one finding my identity in the richly diverse environment that is IE University.
Starting over in a new city also came with its challenges. I must admit, being on my own for the first time and having to navigate supermarkets and paying bills felt like a roller coaster. It was a combination of feeling thrilled to be independent, but also missing my family, and then feeling proud of what I was doing. I never felt alone because I was surrounded by people who were experiencing the same things, and I cherish those learning moments.
After two years in Segovia, our program moved to Madrid. It was a smooth change and I loved the shift to a big city from the small, homey feel of Segovia. Madrid offered new opportunities for networking and conferences and was a nice contrast to the first half of the program. In my second semester, I began an internship with IE Campus Life. I was able to help organize the look and feel of the various activities and events Campus Life offers. This exciting internship was interrupted by COVID-19. Although it was all happening so fast and may have felt a bit confusing, IE University helped us adapt quickly with Liquid Learning. My internship role shifted to finding ways to provide content for students who were at home, but still formed part of the university. Studying and working from home was challenging and rewarding.
In the final stretch
I’m now in my final year of the design program and am enjoying every opportunity. I love that we can explore different classes that extend beyond design, exposing me to other research techniques related to ethnography, sociology, and psychology. This helps me better understand customer needs and how to enrich the design process to add value to the user and society as a whole.
I was thrilled to be part of the Culture Lab, where I worked alongside my teammates to develop a business plan to facilitate an archaeological site. This impactful experience pushed me to explore history and culture in order to combine design thinking with customer needs. I’m able to go beyond customer interviews and learn from the past and present to create valuable services for the future.
The Culture Lab also inspired my final bachelor’s project, where I’m exploring nomadism and its evolution over time. In the past, nomadism was driven by food, shelter and reproduction, whereas today we are looking at the sustained need for movement and exploration. I’m using a design lens to predict what nomadism will look like in the future, and if we will move physically or in an entirely digital reality. As a designer, I’m intrigued by the way we as humans move and explore the world.
If there’s one piece of advice that I could give to incoming students, it would be to explore all the different fields of study and all of the opportunities that IE University gives you. Going outside of the design world and meeting people from other bachelor’s programs has enriched my experience, as well as opened up opportunities for me to implement design theory in real-world settings.
When looking toward the future, my goal is to join a company that allows me to use the design thinking tools I’ve gained from IE University and find new ways to help public sectors, as well as private companies. In the long term, I would like to open my own design studio and apply my learned methodologies in South America, where design could bring value to a lot of different people.
All in all, I’ve realized that being far away from family and living in uncertainty has made me stronger than ever. I am an only child and very close to my parents, who are both lawyers, and my time studying design at IE University brings a creative balance to their legal sector lifestyle. Our conversations now combine logical and creative thinking, creating an enriching experience for me beyond the classroom. I’m looking forward to my future in design, especially as I’m learning to code and feel equipped to combine those tools with the skills I’ve learned at IE University.