Yifeng Chen graduated from GMD in 2015. He then went on to the Design and Branding Strategy MA course at Brunel University. After considering other postgraduate courses, Yifeng decided that he wanted to learn more about the strategic side of design, identifying that successful design relies on strong strategy and planning.
Studying on the GMD course influenced Yifeng’s choice of area to investigate for his Masters. During the Masters programme, he spent more time looking at social design and innovation, corporate social responsibility and creating shared value, all themes which came out of the GMD course. Yifeng says that GMD’s educational approach encourages students to look at social issues that affect daily life and promotes conducting research in order to provide a creative and effective design solution.
Yifeng reflects that after doing the MA, the most improved area of his work is the methodology, with more focus on design research and less emphasis on just the production of an outcome. He spends a lot of time discovering the best way to conduct research, how to link different research methods and now has the ability to determine the authenticity, validity and quality of the research. He therefore feels more confident in building a much better foundation for design projects.
Since finishing the MA, Yifeng has begun working with a business partner to develop a social enterprise called ‘Creative Collector’. They are collecting unique art and design work from talented students and transferring them into saleable products. Part of the profit goes directly back to the student, but the products are also used as a way of promoting the student’s work. Apart from that enterprise, Yifeng is also planning to set up a design studio based in China that specialises in social design and innovation and aims to work closely with the third sector there.
Any tips for current GMD students?
“In terms of GMD, I would suggest paying more attention to the research stage. As a designer we can always produce a high quality graphic, but only research can build up the core concept and result in a strong strategy for the project.
In terms of choosing a Masters course, I would suggest working first and doing the MA later. It is hard to absorb all of the knowledge just from tutors and understand the process of conducting a project without industry experience. Having two or three years’ industry experience really helps you to study more easily and to choose a suitable MA .
On a personal level, the area of social design requires someone who is passionate and has huge potential in the future!”