Art and design students are always looking for ways to express their creativity and develop their skills. And it’s no different for Nicole Andreina Beltran Caraballo and Yoko Hwang Kaetsu, two third-year students of the Bachelor in Design at IE University.

So when they were contacted by David Mahoney, a representative of the i-D and ARTS THREAD call out for the Global Design Graduate Show 2020, they jumped at the opportunity to take part. If successful, their project, HOOLY, could appear across both ARTS THREAD and i-D’s various media platforms.

We interviewed Nicole and Yoko to learn more about their project and their experience in the Bachelor in Design.

Tell us a little about yourselves.

Nicole: I’m originally from a small town in Venezuela called Maturín, but I’ve lived in different places throughout my life including Colombia, Ecuador, and the United States. Now I live in Spain, where I decided to complete the Bachelor in Design at IE University. Of course, the location played a key role in my decision to come to IE University, but I was also attracted by the Bachelor in Design’s holistic approach. The program gives students exposure to different fields of design and business and not just one type of design—a perk that few programs offer.

Yoko: I decided to enroll because of the program itself. The Bachelor in Design offers students the unique opportunity to learn different aspects of design in order to solve real problems—that was the pivotal factor for me.

How has your experience in the Bachelor in Design been?

Nicole: As I reflect on my experience in the program, I can safely say that the preparation that I received from IE University and its professors has made me very confident with my skill set. During my semester abroad, I had the opportunity to study at The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York City. I feel that my training at IE University really prepared me for the experience—the different fields of design that I have been exposed to, the way the professors drive students, teach them how to present their ideas, and encourage them to achieve the best results—made me exceed my expectations there.

Yoko: I will be graduating from the Bachelor in Design next year, alongside Nicole and my peers. Over the past three years, I’ve been able to expand my skill set under my professors’ guidance. The abundance of resources that IE University provides has facilitated the development of my software and interpersonal skills. Having the opportunity to collaborate with my peers on different projects has taught me the importance of effective leadership skills and open communication. And while studying abroad at the University of Miami, I was able to adapt to a different teaching environment that enabled me to discover my own design style.

Tell us about the different projects you’ve been working on.

Nicole and Yoko: Throughout the semester, we’re given projects from different areas of design, including branding (rebranding the Madrid Metro and branding a country) and spatial, graphic, and product design. The HOOLY project was designed during the second half of our second year, when we were learning all about product design.

Tell us more about the HOOLY project. How did you come up with the idea, and how does it work?

Nicole and Yoko: This project was developed in our Design Studio II class where we focused on product design. The project itself was called “My Postman is a Robot,” and the brief was to design a delivery robot within a specific context, taking into consideration its system, safety, and integration with humans. After brainstorming ideas, we decided to focus on the system of toiletries and room service that hotels have.

With that in mind, we created an autonomous service robot that ensured that guests’ needs were attended to at any time. It was simple for us to study the hotel market, since a big part of our research came from the pain points Yoko identified while working in hotels.

Once the idea was developed, we sketched and modeled the design using the Rhinoceros program, and then we rendered it. We modeled a robot with various compartments that function for room service, tray disposals, and toiletries. The robot features a touch screen with a well-designed, user-friendly interface. The second-to-last step was to design the whole system of the robot, which included the interface and the application that every room has to have in order to integrate HOOLY within the hotel. The final step was to create a presentation with a storyline that explained the whole system of HOOLY and, most importantly, a storyline that appealed to the final jury.

Where did the project appear? Tell us about the magazine that contacted you.

Nicole and Yoko: This summer, we were contacted by the university’s marketing department. They told us that our project, HOOLY, was going to be featured in architecture and design magazine Dezeen’s virtual festival. Once our project was published by Dezeen, we received an email from a representative of the i-D and ARTSTHREAD Global Design Graduate Show, inviting us to participate. If we’re successful, hopefully our work will be featured on the different platforms that these organizations have. Having our work recognized has been an invaluable experience.

How has IE University, and the Bachelor in Design prepared you for different opportunities and success?

Nicole: In my opinion, both IE University and the Bachelor in Design have not only helped me connect with people from the environment that I aspire to work in, but they’ve also taught me to adapt to any circumstance—something that is vital for succeeding in the professional world.

Yoko: IE University’s academic environment inspired me to improve as a professional, and it offered a variety of networking opportunities. Being able to connect with industry trendsetters provided insights into the job market and career opportunities, and showed me the importance of establishing business relationships.

What are your main takeaways from the Bachelor in Design?

Nicole: Aside from acquiring knowledge of the design process, in my opinion, the biggest takeaway from the Bachelor in Design is to always understand the user and work hard to achieve your ideas, because hard work always pays off.

Yoko: Throughout the program, I’ve learned how essential establishing fundamental software skills are to the design industry. Additionally, I have become familiar with the benefits and importance of collaboration throughout the ideation process of a project.

In your opinion, what is the key to success?

Nicole: For me, the key to success is to put hours in after class, as well as inside the classroom—how much you get out of this program is up to you. Always be curious, talk to your professors, and work as hard as you can.

Yoko: In order to succeed in IE University’s design program, you should be persistent, self-motivated, open-minded, and dedicated.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a blow for the arts industry and a challenge for students who want to exhibit their projects. But Nicole and Yoko’s experience has shown that hard work pays off—being scouted by a sector-leading digital platform is certainly an achievement to be proud of. Watch this space!