In conversation with: Nicole Agba, MA Communication Design

In conversation with: Nicole Agba, MA Communication Design

Nicole Agba is a current MA Communication Design student and creative designer who has worked within the automotive industry for McLaren, Dyson, Lotus, and Ford to deliver world-class vehicle projects to production. Nicole was also a winner of the 2014 Autocar Next Generation Award for an idea that used smart materials to improve driver safety. In this interview, we talk to Nicole about how she is utilising her master’s to bridge into a new role within design and her passion for sustainability and creativity.

Why did you choose to study MA Communication Design at NUA? 

After years in the industry seeing the difficulties designers face in introducing sustainable practices and materials into production programmes, I realised that being a designer isn’t enough to effect change. The way to do that is systemic- so I decided to pursue higher education to build on existing experience and support my transition from the role of Designer to Creative Director/ Design Strategist.

MA Communication Design as a subject was my main draw to NUA, as I saw it as an opportunity to mould my studies into what I wanted it to be.

Tell us about your previous experiences working within the design industry 

I have been extremely lucky to work on some amazing products: my first being McLaren Senna and most recently the Lotus Emira. Sports cars are where art and engineering meet and present unique challenges, and exploring the potential of where materials can go is something I find fascinating. Sustainability and its relationship to materials was also one of the reasons for my desire to become a car designer. 

“I decided to pursue higher education to build on existing experience and support my transition from the role of Designer to Creative Director/ Design Strategist.”

Nicole Agba, MA Communication Design

How did you find the transition from industry to returning to education? 

From applying to the MA, leaving my job and beginning the course, it took around 3 weeks. 

I was really drawn to transitioning from my job to a master’s as it would allow me the opportunity and time for exploration, which is vital for the next stage of my career. 

Can you tell us a bit about your current practice? 

I am a designer by trade, and a big part of my role in the past has been communicating ideas to varying stakeholders and creating a product offering that speaks to them. In my current practice, it makes sense that I draw on these experiences, using investigative research and foresight to draw conclusions. I see my practice being something fluid, with strategy and creativity at its core.

Who are your creative influences? 

My influences vary: from creative individuals, to brands, to movements. I am deeply influenced by visual media and sound, time spent in nature and experiencing different cultures through travel. These things give nods to the past and a new future.

Why is the role of creatives essential in the debate on sustainability? 

Creatives are conduits for connection and expression. In the case of sustainability, we need to utilise that skill set to problem solve. There is a greater responsibility on creatives today than those that came before us, and we are in a position to challenge the status quo and create new worlds for those coming after us.

Creatives are good at asking why and how. This line of questioning can inspire different ways of thinking and different solutions to the world’s existing problems. 

“There is a greater responsibility on creatives today than those that came before us, and we are in a position to challenge the status quo and create new worlds for those coming after us. “

Nicole Agba, MA Communication Design

What’s next for you? 

With my previous career path, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and I did it. It feels like we’re at a time of ‘revolution’ and change and I’m being very open-minded to what’s next. What I know is that I want an opportunity for creation, sustainability, and strategy.

Kazz stands on the metal stairs of the Guntons Building at NUA

Kazz Morohashi

"What I most loved about my experience, is that the MA teaching and support staff is incredibly hands on, generous and engaged with each of the students."

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