If you could introduce yourself to the readers and what you've been up to since graduating from Brunel.
My name is Henry Collins, I'm 28 years old and I graduated with a BA in Industrial Design and Technology with Professional Practise in 2015.
Since graduating from Brunel I worked in a modelmaking workshop for several years where I gained experience working with an array of materials and processes and on a variety of scales. I played a key part in delivering exciting projects from the set for Elton John's Benny and The Jets music video to miniature worlds used in stop motion TV adverts and creating brand visual idents for clients including Adobe and Channel 4. Most making was done using hand and power tools but I also gained experience designing for and using CNC machinery, laser cutting and 3D printing.
I have spent the last 3 years as Workshop & Project Manager for one of London's largest CNC Manufacturers. Here I gained a range of experience scheduling and delivering batches of furniture, products and architectural installations to tight deadlines, whilst utilising my CAD expertise in 3D modelling, completing technical drawings, designing for CNC and tool pathing ready for manufacture. My project management was essential in the delivery of Library of Things lockers across libraries in London and I also played a key role in the delivery and refinement of manufacture of hundreds of van interiors for WeFix vans for phone and tablet repairs.
Alongside working full-time I have been completing my own sculpture projects which have been shown at festivals and several central London locations including the Old Truman Brewery and Ugly Duck building.
In July 2021 I quit my job to focus on making sculptures full time. I experiment with materials and processes in order to create complex large-scale sculptures that bring people together for the public realm, hotels, restaurants and private clients.
Looking back at your post-graduation self, where did you think you would be today compared to what you are up to now?
Now I have much more of a plan, but my post-graduate self took things as they came so I had no real expectations of where I would be in the future. I knew I enjoyed working with my hands and learning so I put myself in an environment to do just that.
What do you remember from your time at Brunel?
I most remember Brunel for having some incredible professors and workshop technicians with a wealth of experience that I wish I'd got to learn more from whilst there. I also remember Brunel for having an incredible set of facilities that I wish I'd used more... once you leave they disappear, very suddenly.
What's the project you are most proud of since leaving Brunel?
The project I am most proud of since leaving Brunel is a wooden structure I designed and made as part of Bergen International Wood Festival 2018. Two fellow Brunel graduates came to Norway to help; James Seers and Michael Barrett-Wright. At the time I was self-funding projects just to get my work out there and was looking for any opportunity to build large-scale structures, which it turns out doesn't come by that often. Bergen Faculty of Music, Art and Design (KMD) put on the festival. There are 20 teams made up of architects, designers, engineers from all over the world. You have 5 days and basically an infinite number of 2 x 2' pine battens to build your structure. The only problem was when we arrived, we found out the chop saw each team had been promised was to be shared between all 20 teams. I definitely would have designed the structure differently knowing this. Our structure was made up of hundreds of staggered triangles so every corner angle was different. Rather than fight for the saw I decided to cut it all by hand so we only just finished in time...not having slept much and possibly down 2 friends.
What tips would you give to students currently in their final year?
Believe in yourself, make sure you are passionate about your work and don't compare yourself to anyone else. Otherwise final year will be an unnecessary struggle. There are so many external influences telling you what you should or shouldn't do and at the end of the day what you put out there should help you get to where you want to be when you graduate, even if that's not design.
Also, pursue your passions with a vengeance. It will help balance the uni work and once you graduate you're only going to have evenings and weekends to put your time into it.
And following on from that, what tips would you give to students once they have graduated?
Be open to opportunities that come your way, no matter how big, small or obscure. You never know who you will meet or when experience you pick up will come in handy in the future!
For those who aren't familiar of The Big Design Challenge, could you give an overview of what the show is about
The Big Design Challenge is a Sky Arts production hosted by Lauren Laverne airing on Sky Arts at 8pm on Mondays. 8 Designers from various stages of their careers and different design disciplines compete to be crowned Britain's next design superstar over the course of 5 episodes.
It's a bit of an unrealistic view into the design process as there were only 5 weeks to film the entire thing and a lot of things like materials were dictated by the production team but its interesting to see what people can come up with in a limited time and was fun to be a part of!
Many thanks to Henry Collins for speaking to us this week and providing us with the pictures. You can watch The Big Design Challenge on Sky Arts at 8pm on Monday's.