Life lessons: Charlotte Dickson and Eden Short

AUT students Charlotte Dickson, left, and Eden Short in the design lab in Auckland Hospital. Photo / Jason Oxenham
AUT students Charlotte Dickson, left, and Eden Short in the design lab in Auckland Hospital. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Charlotte Dickson
Design student

The last thing that made me think "wow" was when I was on the bus the other day and there was a girl sitting at the back of the bus crying and clearly having a bad day. The woman in front of her opened a packet of biscuits from a shopping bag she was carrying and turned around to offer one to the girl. She took the time to check that the girl was all right and give her some words of comfort. In a moment when everyone else on the bus was minding their own business and pretending not to notice anything was wrong, it was a nice reminder of the kind of person that we should all aspire to be.

People are a lot more similar than they are different. I think we all have a habit of fixating on what makes us different from one another. It makes us feel special, but at the same time it's a massive source of fear and hatred in the world. Everyone has fears and insecurities, loved ones they want to protect, and hopes for the future.

At the end of the day, we're all just trying to make the best life that we can for ourselves and the people we care about.

The collaboration between AUT and Auckland DHB gives us the opportunity to work on real-world design projects within the hospital. We get to challenge the way things are traditionally done in a clinical context and to help hospital staff to see things from a fresh perspective. They help us to understand the problems and we see if we can fix them through design.

I like to eat pizza backwards. If you think about it though, it just makes sense. Why finish with a boring bit of crust when you can save the best bits for last?

Eden Short
Design student

My first big failure (or what I considered to be a failure at the time) was in my teens. Straight out of high school, I moved to Wellington to study art history and classics at Victoria. I only lasted a semester, it was a really difficult time. Through that experience I realised I didn't want to learn about things people had made - I wanted to be the one making them. Through that failure, I actually got the guts to apply to design school.

The most valuable thing I've learned is that no design is ever made in isolation. When your profession is communicating, you have to bounce ideas, critique, and discuss the work in order to make sure it's getting through to an audience. Also, before printing a final copy, always always test print it, multiple times, because if something can go wrong, it will.

The last thing that made me angry was probably a mix of mediocrity and misogyny. Usually when I get angry I try and turn the anger into something productive, like making a project out of it. It helps as it feels like you're taking control, rather than doing nothing and just complaining about it. A prime example was a mini-publication I made a while ago documenting sexist comments from a couple of young men at a bus stop. It turned something that made me furious into a piece of work I'm quite happy with, and in turn created more of a dialogue about these kinds of things.

Charlotte Dickson and Eden Short are students working in the Design for Health and Wellbeing Lab, a collaboration between the Auckland District Health Board and AUT's Faculty of Design & Creative Technologies.

- Canvas

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