We Are MA: Kazz Morohashi, MA Communication Design
Originally from Los Angeles, California, Kazz Morohashi completed her MA Communication Design and is now studying for a PhD at Norwich University of the Arts. Here she shares an insight to her practice and why she changed careers to follow her passion.
What drove you to study MA Communication Design at NUA?
Working in an office environment for several years, I really wanted to do something different and to be making art again. I love illustration and storytelling and the MA in Communication Design felt like a good match that married image making with storytelling. I was attracted to the freedom the course offered both in terms of actual practice and research.
Can you tell me a bit about your practice?
I guess the easiest way to describe my practice is like a set-designer. I design spaces with props, tasks and story lines to produce certain experiential outcomes.
For example, one of my MA projects, Go Walkeez, is a project where children take a toy sausage dog for a ‘culture walk’ around museums and take photographs of the dog sniffing art they find interesting. When the children return the dog after the walk, we look at those ‘sniffie’ shots the children took and together talk about art they found inspiring.
My practice draws on a number of design practices including graphic, product and user experience design.
Looking back on your MA, did your practice grow or change in a way that you did not expect?
Definitely. I had this image of myself post-MA as being an illustrator. I saw myself making images with the dream of one day writing and illustrating beautiful children’s books.
That vision, I soon discovered, had nothing to do with the direction my work was headed. In reality, I realised that I was not so interested in conveying my own story, but rather to draw out other people’s stories.
And that somehow, I was able to get people to do exactly that by designing safe, interactive and playful situations.
I kept experimenting with different methods, strategies and processes. The best thing about the MA programme was that it was a period in which I was able to completely immerse in experimentation.
"Who would have thought that the idea of taking a toy dog for a walk around museums would get a personal hand-written note from Richard Howarth, the then Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple? "
When you reflect on your time at NUA, what do you feel proudest about?
Can I rephrase this question and think about the moments I felt most grateful for my time at NUA? It’s because I know that my journey wouldn’t have been possible without the support of everyone around me here.
When I started, I did not have much confidence in my work. But by the end of my MA, I was very lucky to have had a string of successes, including a number of award recognitions at regional, national and international levels.
I made the work, but the process was truly collaborative where the encouragement and support from everyone was all integral to the outcome. I mean, who would have thought that the idea of taking a toy dog for a walk around museums would fetch well over £15,000 in prize and grant money alone and get a personal hand-written note from Richard Howarth, the then Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple?
How do you feel about the creative community at NUA and in Norwich?
I love the creative energy in Norwich. I’m originally from Los Angeles, so people often ask how Norwich compares. My reply is that the creative vibe here is uniquely friendly and abundant.
I never feel the aggressive need for survival you get in some bigger cities like LA. Norwich is also a human-scale city. You’re only a person or two away from someone you want to meet or collaborate. It’s a great place for developing and experimenting with ideas.
What would you say to someone considering MA study?
MA is great in broadening your horizons, network and life experiences. The time is excellent for testing out new ideas in a safe and supportive environment. MA is a unique process of self-discovery.