Design Assembly profiles MDS grad Dannah Soriano

Each summer Design Assembly profiles a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions. They welcome these talented emerging professionals to the design industry, learn about their passions, final projects, developing creative confidence and ambitions for the future. Read on for their interview with our recent Bachelor of Media Design Graduate, Dannah Soriano:

Was there someone (or something) that inspired you to pick design as a career path?

It used to just be a hobby that I didn’t know could turn into a career in the future. I was happily volunteering for a club doing design work while taking up a med-related course. Until I moved to New Zealand and my brother sat down with me and asked what I enjoy doing the most- that’s when I decided to explore digital design.

Can you tell us what your graduation project focused on?

My capstone project focused on empowering meaningful connections between the elderly community and the young people using stories of courage and grit. With a core focus on commonality and reciprocal connection, the goal was to facilitate a two-way connection between the two generations through an interactive experience. I started my capstone project just when Covid 19 started so it naturally went to the path of responding to the issue of being physically apart.

What were some of your most exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your project?

This project actually helped me find a new purpose behind what I do as a designer, so it was a special one. I realised that interaction design goes way beyond just solving problems, but more so finding new ways to better connect human beings to one another, no matter what form it may take.

What did you enjoy most during your course at MDS?

I enjoyed the relationships I’ve built inside the campus. Whether it be my peers or lecturers, it’s such a diverse set of people which made learning more interesting and exciting as it widened and opened up my perspective about certain ideas.

What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it?

Time management- especially that I was balancing uni with two side jobs! I am not the best at time management but throughout the years, I learned that I had to be intentional in prioritising and sticking to them FIRMLY. And learning not to spread myself too thinly is something that I am still learning until now.

What’s the most valuable lesson you learned during your studies?

Try not to work alone and make use of your peers around you as they are one of your most valuable assets. Often Eureka moments come from having conversations. You never know what can come out when people from different backgrounds and perspectives open-mindedly bounce ideas. But of course, you have to make sure to filter opinions and only absorb what’s relevant.

How has your ability and confidence progressed since the beginning of your studies?

The more that I saw the value in what I did, the more confident I got with my creativity. And don’t get me wrong, I still get that impostor syndrome sometimes. But I found that by continuously doing and making, I slowly identified my key strengths and weaknesses, which helped me decide what to focus on and what to improve on.

What does your creative process look like?

As a UX designer, it’s important to talk to the users at every stage of the process- most importantly in the beginning to make sure that I am not designing based on my own assumptions. Ideally I will not build anything until I’ve identified the core problem. Then I conceptualise and ideate by brain dumping- no matter how crazy or feasible an idea is. It’s a matter of creating choices and then making choices. I then choose the two or three ideas and start building it.  At this stage, there will always be a lot of trial and errors based on the feedback that I get –  which is important to move forward. I then reiterate, redesign, test again, until the prototype responds to the users’ needs.

How do you see your work and practice developing, and what are your main aspirations?

The good thing is that the world is never going to run out of problems to be solved; there’s always a way to make something better. So there’s always going to be an opportunity to creatively think of ways to put into practice what I do to grow. My main aspiration is to be of influence to other designers on the huge impact of design when used for good.

Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?

It would be We’re Not Really Distant, because it became something that’s really personal for me.

How (if at all) do your interests outside of design inform the work in your portfolio?

It definitely affects if not all, most of my design decisions. Most of the work in my portfolio is a response to my own frustrations and finding ways to creatively solve them. Weaze was made from my love for travelling and wanting to organise everything in one place, Diagee was a response to my fear of going to the doctors but still wanting to have that human touch for reliability, and We’re Not Really Distant was inspired by my close relationship with my grandma. Taking on projects that interest me helps with long-term motivation.

Why did you choose to study at MDS?

I chose MDS because of its reputation being the #1 digital school in Asia Pacific. And since it’s a relatively small institution, there’s a higher chance of being mentored outside class hours.

How are you feeling about the future?

101% not sure of what the future holds but I am hopeful.

What does your dream job look like?

I don’t really believe in dream jobs anymore because I don’t expect a job to fulfill my deepest desires. I guess what’s important for me is to be grounded while growing and creating work that ultimately helps and inspires others.

How can people get in touch and see more of your work?




Article originally posted on Design Assembly

Dannah Soriano