Master of Design
When Archana Bhurke realised how much quieter the streets of Auckland were compared to those of her hometown of Mumbai, she decided to map out Auckland’s unique soundscape for her Master of Design, specialising in spatial design.
“It had been almost eight months of me being in a new country all by myself, and I had just begun working on my thesis, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Zealand in March 2020. Auckland was more silent than ever. That’s when I realised ‘Shor’ – the Hindi word for noise – was missing here in Auckland.
“After walking on the busy, chaotic, vibrant and noisy streets of my hometown Mumbai in India, I was disoriented by the comparatively disciplined, formal, grey and quieter streets of Auckland. I missed the buzz, so I was naturally drawn to discovering the unique sounds of this place. I realised that every place has a unique sound. This was the ‘eureka moment’ for my Master of Design thesis. I wanted to map the sounds of Auckland City.”
Archana has certainly achieved that and her research project did not only help her complete her Master of Design but also gained her some well-deserved recognition.
“My master’s project, Shor, was a Gold pin winner at the Designers Institute of New Zealand’s Best Awards 2021. It was also exhibited at the Audio Foundation and was featured in art journal The Pantograph Punch. I’m so honoured and humbled by all these achievements so far, and I want to keep the momentum going and move forward to the next challenge.”
The freedom to experiment
She was drawn to AUT’s Master of Design because it gave her the freedom to experiment, says Archana who graduated in mid-2021.
“I’m an architect by training and an artist by passion, and it’s my constant endeavour to infuse the two seamlessly. I wanted to pursue a master’s degree that would let me engage with multiple design disciplines including visual, graphic, spatial, textile, surface and product design. I found the Master of Design degree at AUT the most suitable for me.”
She says she thoroughly enjoyed her time as an AUT student.
“All the staff, technicians, teachers, mentors, peers and supervisors were very helpful. All the design making was very hands on, challenging and adventurous. I really loved using all the design labs and learning so many new things, like carpentry, digital printing on textiles and screen printing processes. I’m fortunate that I’ve now been given the chance to be on the other side and work as a teaching assistant and guide other spatial design students.
“I’m so grateful for my family back home who believed in me and sent me to Auckland to pursue further studies. When I first started my project, I just wanted to create something unique, which depicted my roots and culture, and reminded me of home. One of my lecturers, Sue Jowsey, said ‘What’s new that you’re bringing to the country?’ and that stuck with me throughout. I was lucky to have had such an encouraging and brilliant supervisor in Dr Rachel Carley. She was my guiding force.”
Life as a designer
The best part about being a designer is that your work is what you love to do, Archana says.
“I love making and creating, and bringing joy to people’s lives with beautiful and functional designs. I’m currently a full-time graphic designer and marketing administrator at Oceans Floral, while also working as a teaching assistant for second-year AUT spatial design students. I’ve also done a few freelance projects for Signature Homes and Maxwell Rodgers Fabrics. I find delight in every project I do!”
She is grateful for all the projects she has worked on so far, and strives to do projects that can help bring about positive change and save the environment.
“The native flora and fauna of New Zealand has caught my fascination, and I intend to delve into it further. I recently collaborated with Signature Homes to create fun motion graphic animations of New Zealand native birds and trees to promote their sustainable building plans on social media and other marketing collateral. I believe design has the power to bring about the change we need in the world.”