Prompt 1: Across Time Zones

GSMD-500 | Grad Design Studio 1
Prompt 1: The Gift

Getting to know Ayako

The prompt given allowed each one to get to know one another. As someone who wasn’t in Vancouver yet at the time, I thought I would really be challenged by the prompt as I could only interact virtually with my cohort through Zoom. Thankfully, my studio-mate for this prompt, Ayako Takagi, was very welcoming and kind.

I had reached out to Ayako and we scheduled a Zoom meeting to get to know one another better. This provided the first challenge—understanding the time zone difference between Vancouver and the Philippines. This was a 15-hour time difference we had to work around. Luckily, Ayako said that Japan’s time zone is similar—being 16 hours ahead of Vancouver and just an hour ahead of the Philippines.

When we did get a chance to talk to one another, we shared our prior design projects. Being a fellow industrial designer, I was really intrigued with Ayako’s portfolio of works. We shared a common interest in material exploration, although I would argue she had a better grasp and experience on such exploration.

After sharing our respective works, we got into a conversation as international students studying in ECU. We started talking about the culture differences and shock I’d be expecting when I get there. Ayako did offer to give me a tour of ECU as she did take her undergrad there, which I very much appreciated.

We then got into talking about what happens after the MDes program. Would we stay in Canada to work? Get PR? Apply for citizenship? It was then I learned that apparently Japan didn’t have such a thing as a dual citizenship status and that if Ayako were to pursue a Canadian citizenship, she’d give up her Japanese identity, which she opted not to—showing her connection to her family and heritage.

Design inspiration

Our conversation prompted me to design a 3D-printable handheld Time zone Converter to not only convert Vancouver time to that of Japan’s so Ayako could keep in touch with her loved ones overseas, but also visualize the time difference of her connections. I added Philippine time to symbolize her new connections as well. Since I am still overseas, I hope to print the 3 pieces that comprise the device when I arrive on campus and give it to Ayako.

3D animation of the Time zone Converter showing an exploded view and an in-use rotation of the Wheel.


This prompt allowed us to get to know one another through a very unique way of making introductions—introducing a fellow student instead of yourself. The aspect of gift-giving made the class feel less of a requirement boxed into the four corners of a room and more of a personal and supportive community. I was especially happy when not only Ayako enjoyed my gift, but also other international students who could relate in some way to the growing distance between them and their loved ones. I am very glad to have met new people I will be learning and working with for the next two years in the MDes program.

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