Introducing Michael to the Aetha Design team

Michael joined us at the end of June and was our second new Junior Designer to join the Aetha Design team over the past few months. We originally planned to hire one Junior designer at the beginning of the year but due to an increased workload and a designer heading to Australia for a new life post covid we had capacity for two. Michael joins Tom and the design team and has so far been involved in concept ideation work, prototyping and of course client facing reviews.

Michael joins Aetha Design from York St. John University where he studied Product Design. He also has a Masters in 3D Design and Technologies. Michael is probably our most talkative designer to work in the studio and the only Yorkshireman we have met who doesn’t drink tea (or even more unusual for a designer – Coffee!!) We took the chance 6 weeks in to ask Michael some questions on how he is getting on.

Tell us a bit about yourself – where did you grow up and where did you go to Uni:

Having been born and raised in Teesside, I have spent my life in the north east. I am a keen cyclist and got into cycling at a very young age as the whole family often went out riding together. After joining the local cycling club, Stockton Wheelers, I went onto to race at national level for a few years until college work took over. When it was time to choose a university course, it was only ever going to be product design. After all, I had studied the subject since I was 14. The family often went to York on day trips throughout the course of my childhood, so when looking for universities, the city of York was high on my list.

What did you study at Uni and would you recommend the course:

I studied BA Product Design at York St. John University. Having achieved a 1st class honours mark, I decided to stay on at YSJ and complete a MSc in 3D Design and Technologies. In which, I graduated with Distinction. I had a few reasons why I choose York and, more specifically, York St. John. With a campus based in the centre of York, YSJ is unlike a lot of other universities. Small class sizes created a very close knit community, which helped cultivate strong bonds between both students and faculty. This is one of the main reasons I would recommend YSJ, sometimes in larger universities it’s easy to feel overlooked, this is not the case at YSJ.

Have you worked anywhere else (even if it’s not design related):

While I was studying in York, I worked at Halfords as both a sales advisor and bike mechanic, that job taught me a great deal about communication and confidence (as well as teaching me how to look after my own bike), For the past year I have been working as a product designer for Purple Turtle Co, an charity committed to eradicating plastic waste from the oceans. Helping to make a difference through design was always a lifelong goal of mine and the work I continue to do with Purple Turtle Co is doing just that.

Why Aetha:

Everyone rides bikes! The other reason is Aetha, as a design consultancy, was best placed to offer me a wide variety of projects to work on. As a recent graduate I think this variety is crucial in equipping me with the best knowledge base and ensuring I develop as a designer.

How was the interview process/what was your favourite part:

In my job search as a graduate I did not attend one single in-person interview. As per covid restrictions, any interview I did attend was conducted virtually. That was until the second stage interview with Aetha. After completing a short design brief I was invited down to Poole to meet the team and talk them through my work. It was a blessed relief from the drudgery of virtual interviews and was totally worth the 12 hour round trip in my eyes.

What do you hope to be involved in with Aetha:

Anything and everything! As I said before working in a design consultancy means you’re not quite sure what’s going to land on your desk. That’s what makes it exciting.

Who is your favourite designer and why:

Kenneth Grange, he is responsible for designing some of the most iconic and familiar products and appliances that shape our daily lives. I believe the most successful products are the ones you don’t notice and this can be said for Sir Grange’s work.

You have only been here just over a month– any highlights so far:

Getting settled into a role is always a slightly rocky process – learning how a studio ebbs and flows can be fraught with challenges. Thankfully, with transition into the Aetha team has been a smooth one.

Moving to Poole for the job is a big deal, what have you liked about the area so far:

With family living in Bournemouth, I visited poole and the surrounding area every year of my childhood so when it came to moving here, it wasn’t as stressful as you might think. I’ve always loved it here, so I’m pretty happy that I can now stay longer than a two week holiday.

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