Talking D&T

TD&T096 Max Pownall talking with Emily Brook

April 05, 2022 Max Pownall; Emily Brook Episode 96
Talking D&T
TD&T096 Max Pownall talking with Emily Brook
Show Notes Transcript

Time for a different voice! This week Max Pownall (you can hear Alison and Max chatting in episode 76) talks with Emily Brook, a design lecturer from Nottingham Trent University.

Episode transcript

Where you can find Emily:
Emilly's NTU page
Linkedin


Mentioned in this epsiode
The Guilty Feminist – The comedy podcast hosted by Deborah Frances-White 

Unfinished Business


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Max Pownall:

Welcome to a special guest hosts edition for talking D&T podcast, usually with Alison Hardy, but today with me, Max Paranal are bringing you some new voices and perspectives to add to the discussion around DT education. That's correct. Okay, I think I think we're on So welcome, everybody, to the first of my guest hosts slots on Alison's talking D&T podcast. Thank you for letting me steer the ship. Why for a while, Alison. Hopefully there's no icebergs looming on the horizon. And so with these few few recordings, I'm hoping to present some different perspectives on D&T education, particularly from women who've been successful in education and beyond into the wide world. So to start that conversation, and start with my first guest slot, I've got my first guest, lots of firsts. Emily Brook. Emily, thank you for joining me on Alison's podcast. Hello, would you like to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about you and how you got to where you are?

Emily Brook:

Yeah. Great. Hello. So my name is Emily Brooke. I'm a lecturer at Nottingham Trent University. And I'm the year leader for BA product design at the moment. So steering, steering the ship, as it were. And then join me to talk about kind of now how I got there, or is that going to be leaving?

Max Pownall:

Yeah, I think so. Yeah. So your experience is kind of what led you to this point, I guess.

Emily Brook:

Yeah. So I did a master's at NTU in 2016. And really enjoyed it. And from there started doing hourly paid lettering work, mostly teaching CAD. And then from there, basically loved, loved working with the students love getting involved with kind of that learning process. And here I am, five years later, still doing it. I'm really enjoying it. Yeah. Good, good.

Max Pownall:

Okay, so So before that point for your coming, becoming aware of Nottingham Trent University, where we both are your kind of experience of D&T or whatever you did before then how did that How did you know this was kind of the path for you that you wanted to get into that masters?

Emily Brook:

Um, so my secondary school was a Technology College. So when we did our GCSE is we had to choose D&T as a GCSE. So you could choose between resistant materials, graphics, textiles, and food tech. So I chose textiles at that point. It was something that was quite interested in. And I did that for GCSE. But they only ran that for about three years. So I think the school year above me and the school year below me had to do that. But then after that, they they stopped it. So by the time I got to a level, there were, I think maybe 15 people doing product design. So I was thinking about this earlier, like, it's quite strange that the whole year group, which was about 200, people had to do a dt at GCSE. And then by the time we got to a level that was like less than 10% Still doing that. Yeah. And I think it's because the only a level they did was product design. So they're done like the four separate kind of dt pathways, and then gone right, you can do product. And that's it. Because I ended up doing kind of like fashion and textiles within product at a level which was a bit weird, because everyone else was designing lamps and stuff. And I was doing dresses. But all the theory was still resisting materials based. So it ended up being a bit strange kind of a mixture.

Max Pownall:

Okay, that's interesting. But did you still? Do you still enjoy that experience? I guess he's still kind of what made you think you wanted to carry that on into university to you undergrad and onwards.

Emily Brook:

So I think for me, like I'd always been quite creative anyway. And I don't know if some of it was a bit of kind of defiance against my parents and being like, I want to go and do something creative. And they were very keen for me to go and do something like my other A levels were English and geography. So they were like, go and do that you'll get a good job like, and I was like, I don't think I want to do that. So I initially applied to university to do fashion design. And I think at the point where I was going to interviews I'd realised because I was doing a product a level instead of a at fashion or textile a level there was a real gap in my knowledge. So I then went on to do a foundation just to get kind of those extra skills that I was missing. And that was

Max Pownall:

this still towards the effect your fashion angle. You was thinking to kind of go down that route still.

Emily Brook:

Yeah, so it was an Art and Design Foundation. And it was a year long but everybody on that course wanted to go and do something creative at uni, but But like there'll be people that want to do graphics, there'll be people looking at like visual communication fashion product. That will that year was really brilliant. Like, I think when I think back to it now, that was probably my favourite year of education, because it was really experimental, and you kind of just do what you wanted. But all of the staff seemed really, like focused on trying to get you to find out what you wanted to do. So I went into that thinking, I want to do fashion, I want to work with textiles. And then I think at one point, they were like, but everything you make is 3d, like, what? What are you doing, like you're not making dresses, or, I don't know, curtains, or whatever it was, it was all kind of big, sculptural 3d pieces. So they kind of pushed me towards product in 3d, which is then why I applied for when I actually went to uni. But that year was great. It was just great. We did everything.

Max Pownall:

Okay, that's, that sounds cool. So how, how does that great year compare to kind of the experience you've had before? If you were secondary school and GCC, there was all these different options. And then you came into a level, it was just this one option. And you had to kind of manipulate that to kind of what you wanted? How does that experience kind of what do you feel about that compared to you have this year that you love? And then the years before? What's your thoughts?

Emily Brook:

I think, like looking back at it now, I think the way that the the school stuff was structured wasn't anything to do with the staff, it was just to do with the curriculum that they had to teach, like they had to get you through an exam. And I think for me, I found that year quite difficult, because obviously my my coursework my project was fashion based. But all of the theory I was doing was on like wood. So metals, and like hazardous materials. So for me that yeah, just felt quite disjointed. And I think maybe other people that did that, maybe wouldn't feel that as much because their project directly linked to it. But I find it quite strange. Yeah, compared to then this foundation, where it was like, go and do what you want. If you want to do painting today, then you can do that. Or like, if you want to do life drawing, we could do that. Or if you want to make something out of leaves, you can do that. So I guess it was it just felt less structured. But But in that way, you've got to try a lot more. And you've got to actually work out what you enjoyed. Rather than having to kind of follow a syllabus of like today, this is what you've got to do. And you must learn about unknown injection moulding, because your exam is going to be on that. Whereas the foundation, it was 100% coursework based, and you could literally do anything for your final thing. So it was really open, which I think I enjoyed a lot.

Max Pownall:

That's good. Yeah. So it sounds like it was that kind of that freedom, that kind of unconstrained or went away from satellite, kind of a really tight syllabus. And yeah, you got to do this to pass an exam, if that allowed you to kind of progress and develop, but you still kind of came back to product design and DMT in eventually, which is really nice. And good to see. So so that was really that's good to kind of get your perspective of where you've come from and your experience of education, now putting your your lecturer hat on, and kind of bringing those experiences up to kind of what you're seeing in our first year. So you teach to the year leader for our first year be a product design course. What do you kind of see from them? Is there anything kind of you can bring from your own experiences, to kind of see that people who are kind of weaker or stronger? And what do you think their education is giving them? Or perhaps not giving them that you think they could be beneficial?

Emily Brook:

Oh, I think something that is maybe still happening and happened with me when I was at uni is is like the representation of staff compared to students. So I mean, we're quite lucky. I think NTU that we have quite a lot of female members of staff. And I think the students can see that. But we do still get female students kind of being like, Oh, well, there aren't very many girls in here. And I'm like, well, that there are a lot more every year I think like there were a few more. I mean, we're not like 5050, but it seems to be getting less of a like mostly boys and then some girls. So I think that's definitely improving. But I think the representation that they're kind of seeing is getting better. But I think there's still room for improvement.

Max Pownall:

Do you think that has an impact on the path you took through your education where you said you were kind of quite textiles based, and then you were kind of forced into spray levels and then you kind of rebelled against that for foundation? Do you is there a representation factor in that that you thought was kind of what girls do or was it just kind of you followed your passions and

Emily Brook:

I think there was so like my GCSE textile class there was one boy in it like that was all the girls did textiles and food tech and all the boys did graphics and resistant materials. But also when I did my job So I did my degree at Leeds Beckett University. It was a really small course, which again, I think was quite nice. But there were three girls. And everyone else was boys. And it was, you felt very like I'm the woman. So I've got to do like the the projects that are about women. On our staff were, there were three female members of staff. But within my first year, one of them retired and one of them went on maternity leave. So it wasn't until my second year that I really saw that like female representation of like, oh, I can actually do that. And that. I don't know. Like, we had a really, she was a PhD student who came to work with us, and she was looking at renewable energy in the Gambia, I think at that point, I was like, wow, like, actually, women do do this. And it's really cool. But I think up until that point, I felt very like it was a manly a manly kind of thing to be doing as your Yeah. But I do think that's improving from, from what I've seen, and even on the course I did now live. So I mean, I'm still in contact with some people there. And there are a lot more female students and staff. So I think the representation is getting better. But I think there's still more that we could do.

Max Pownall:

Hmm, absolutely. Yeah. No, it is an interesting kind of current topic. And I'm currently sitting on Allison's masters comm and do it if you're interested in education, masters. But yeah, there's a lot of conversations going on with kind of all levels with a voice in higher education, and then secondary and down into primary about different kinds of representation. decolonizing lots of lots of different things going on. So hopefully, there's a kind of this the future generations comes through? Excuse me, we'll get a bit more of kind of Yeah, representations or so the focusing on that sort of bit more projects that you did. So I know you I'm aware, you kind of did a project with the RCA and things was part of your undergrad or your masters and and that was around kind of feminine health kind of style things. Do you again, do you think you were was that a Passion Driven from you? Or was that kind of passion driven from kind of, or like something society was kind of subtly imposing on you, or what gave you that direction?

Emily Brook:

I think, a bit of both. So we were given in our final year, three RSA briefs, and one of them was on packaging, and reducing packaging waste. One of them was on like upcycling office furniture. And then the other one was on maternal health care. And all the girls pick that one. And one of the guys and everybody else did like the other two. And I think at that point, I was really like, oh, like the girls are doing the women like I don't know, it felt really like the girls had almost taken that responsibility of like, well, this is a project about women. So the women should be doing that. I don't know, I did feel like a responsibility to choose that brief. Sure. And I mean, for me, it did turn out quite well. I mean, I won the RSA award, and then within my master's kind of went to, like, carried on with it a bit. But I think looking back now, I do wish that maybe I just picked I don't know, something like really beautiful to do. I think I was trying to tackle really hard topics. But I guess I felt a response, like a responsibility to do that because nobody else was. Yeah.

Max Pownall:

It's interesting you say that because the other end of kind of DMT education the kind of the final year of our undergraduate and I guess kind of postgrads you do find that a lot of the a lot of the female students want to kind of tackle these big ethical dilemmas safety on the streets, kind of sorting out the NHS and the projects and things and it's it is interesting, but whilst it's really good to have those kinds of wider ethical ideas, those get those projects are really difficult to do and sometimes Yeah, is it nicer just to kind of do something that's really beautiful, but you you something for you, it's, it's an interesting, dynamic to, to think about. Okay, so, so with the idea then of kind of the representation changing and more kind of women role models appearing. And hopefully, these this series of podcasts I'm running, hopefully produce some more of those role models to show that people are being successful in the industry. Well, how would you for people kind of teaching students are coming up to hopefully coming up to higher education or off into the design world in some way? Well, if you've got any kind of advice or things you think they could do to kind of help out with the the issues you're seeing,

Emily Brook:

Oh, I think it's it's showing that lots of different people kind of do do this kind of as a job. So I mean, we've tried to do it a little bit in our the first project we'll do in the first year this year. So we get the students to kind of design a house hold product in the style of a designer, and this year, we'd kind of opted for like not doing it with any kind of straight white men just to show that like there are other people out there. And I don't know, I think stuff like that can be really useful just to show that, that there are people doing those jobs that are like you. And I think the more you can do that the better. Really? Yeah. That's yeah. Just your

Max Pownall:

Yeah, right now, I think that's the that's the start of it, I guess, isn't it to kind of Yeah, have good examples to show and not not fall back to our good old Philippe Stark. And yeah, the old kind of typical people and Dyson as, as wonderful as those people, maybe it's good to have some kind of yeah, nice examples of people doing things differently, or people being successful that you wouldn't necessarily think about. So that's really good. And yeah, hopefully we we do that too, as well. Okay, excellent. So the kind of my final question for you, then, is there anything interesting that you'd like to kind of share in terms of articles, podcasts, books, things you've read, that you think could be really beneficial for other people to read and kind of think about as they develop?

Emily Brook:

Yeah, I think as a, as a design student, I was really like, Oh, my God, I need to know loads of stuff about design and like, designers. But I think actually, it's more useful to just look at kind of everything, which, I don't know if that makes sense. But like, watching, even watching the news and stuff like that, like, I think you need to be really aware of the world around you to be able to understand, particularly as a designer, like how people work and like you can kind of build empathy. So for me, though, I listened to a lot of podcasts, because they're quite easy to digest. And they're good on the tram, which I spend a lot of time doing. But for me, like, the guilty feminist is a great one. Because I mean, particularly for women, I mean, they tackle really big women's issues, but also just issues that are kind of surrounding people that have less of a voice. So I think what they do is very nice. I mean, they're every week, and sometimes they're like really kind of big feminist topics. And sometimes it's something that's like, kind of really small and, and everything that they say is really kind of valid and important and like educational, and quite a lot of the time, I'll be still on the tram like, wow, I hadn't even thought about that, like, so that's, that's a really good one. And it is quite light. So it's not to like information kind of all the time, which is nice. There was another podcast I listened to last year, that was put on by the British Library called unfinished business. And that's another one looking at women's rights. And I think it's only like an eight part thing. But again, quite interesting to look at that from, like, kind of historical events from a female perspective. So that's, that's quite interesting, and wanted to have a listen to and it's quite short. And then with, with books, I've been reading some books. At the moment, I've been reading one called The Future Earth at the moment, which is more around the environment and sustainability by Eric cope house. But it's almost like a future forecast of like how bad global warming could be if we kind of carry on the way we go in at the moment. And that's been really interesting, because it's almost like reading like a dystopian future novel. But actually, it's all based on kind of fact, and could potentially happen if, if we carry on the way we're going, which is quite interesting. It's quite nice to look in there for for projects and things that we could potentially be doing with our students. So yeah, there, there are a few things, but it's looking at things around you and not just focusing on that design kind of stuff all the time.

Max Pownall:

Or that designer curriculum or something. Yeah, sometimes squeezed and squashed and forced into a specific way of doing things. And yeah, hopefully, hopefully, people listening to this, if anyone is listening. Hopefully those people are kind of here willing to look beyond there and stuff and excited about interesting things like this. And yeah, maybe maybe saving the future Earth for on the beach or something where you've got positive outlook around these negative tones. But brilliant, no, thank you. Thank you very much, Emily, thank you for your time. So I'll make sure that those recommendations for books and podcasts are in the show notes. And other than that, yeah, feel free, remember to share, like and share this and follow Alison and everything on her on her socials and all those other things that she likes to talk about at the end of her podcasts. And now a really interesting chat, really informative hope that was useful for the people listening. And yeah, for myself. I look forward to speaking to you guys and our next chapters of our guest hosts. But I think very much Emily and I'll see you all again