In celebration of the up-and-coming Wix Design Playground (opens in new tab), starting June 2019, some of the programme's alumni recently met to discuss their experiences from last summer. The students mention an invigorating, creative energy that kept them motivated throughout the entire three-month summer program, as well as long after it came to an end.
“It was such a stimulating environment, where a group of talented people were encouraged to unlock their creativity and pour it into every project,” says Ariel Sun, digital designer, illustrator and recent graduate of the programme. “The Wix Design Playground has definitely placed me right in the epicentre of the design community in New York. I’m really grateful for the community that the program has cultivated for us, and for the connections that we now have with so many talented luminaries of the design field.”
The luminaries that Ariel is referring to are the many speakers that popped by the program over the summer, including award-winning designers such as Jessica Walsh, Debbie Millman, Adam J. Kurtz, and Alexandra Zsigmond, to name a few. These talks were accompanied by everything a designer can dream of, from workshops making paper masks, zines and more, to visiting design studios and museums around Manhattan.
The students also took part in three main projects, spanning a month each. While they varied in brief and objective, they had one thing in common: they were all real-life projects, made for real clients. “As a leading high-tech company,” explains Vuong Tong, head of the Wix Design Playground, “It was important for us that our academy reflected the design industry, in both its high standards and tight timetables.
"As a direct result, we knew that we wanted our students to work with real clients.” The message they were hoping to convey, says Tong, is that the client can be your ally and share your goals, rather than being your enemy.
Reigniting creativity through play
The 35 students who attended last summer’s program all come from different walks of life and design disciplines. Some were still students at the time, while others, like Ariel, were practising designers. “I wasn’t sure whether I needed to go through a programme to learn more and improve my design skills,” says Sun, who had to cut down on her then full-time position in order to attend the programme.
“But in the end, I’m so glad that I did. The Wix Design Playground helped me realise that I can define my own career path as a creative, and gave me the confidence to do so.” Whether the students were busy creating a website for a temporary tattoo company, rebranding a non-profit or revamping their own portfolio, it was the Playground’s mission to provide a well-rounded set of skills, rather than simply technical expertise.
“A designer doesn’t need much more than a laptop,” comments Yotam Kellner, one of the programme mentors, “Which makes the conceptual, abstract tools of the trade so much more crucial than the technical ones. Only through experimentation can you step out of your comfort zone and brave into new techniques and skills. This way, you may become versatile, so that no platform, medium, or technique will be out of your reach.”
As an example, Kellner refers to fashion designer, illustrator and Playground graduate Ivy Chen, whose experimentation led her to truly unique and interesting results. “Ivy used to shy away from the digital medium,” says Kellner, “But I’m so proud of the Wix website (opens in new tab) that she designed. It’s beautiful, poetic, and employs a deep understanding of graphic design principles.” The final outcome combines Ivy’s two passions – fashion design and illustration. With a sophisticated application of scrolling effects, Ivy was able to fuse the two seemingly unrelated fields into one cohesive visual language. “When she put the two worlds together,” says Yotam, “She created a third one that’s just hers, and is an accurate representation of who Ivy is as a creative.” And it’s this spirit of refining one’s creative voice through play and ingenuity that the Wix Playground is all about.
The 2019 Wix Design Playground is currently accepting applications. The tuition-free program will be in Manhattan starting June 2019. Ready to embark on your own creative journey? Apply today for the design experience of a lifetime (opens in new tab)!