Spotlight on Felicia Dean: Graduate Designer on the Rise

April 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Graduate student Felicia Dean has excelled as a designer since joining the program. Her name is out there, so much so that Felicia is featured in Dwell Magazine’s May 2012 edition as a Young Gun in the design industry. [i]blog took a moment to ask this hard working designer about her success:

How did your interest in design begin?

As a child I was always interested in the arts, and often awarded the most artistic ribbon.  In high school I continued to excel in the art courses and art exam of the International Baccalaureate program.  For my undergraduate studies I went on to pursue a studio art degree, but more focused on graphics.  At the time, I felt like it had the creative outlook I wanted and was promising for career opportunities. However, during this time is when I took a course on industrial design and I fell in love with it!  It was an enlightenment moment where I realized designing furniture could be a creative and expressive outlet for me that extended the functional possibilities of the fine arts and of craft.

How did UNCG fit within your goals as a designer?

Honestly, originally I did not know if UNCG would fit because the product design graduate program was still so new and being developed.  I still applied because I wanted to see what a program so close to home had to offer.  I interviewed with Professor Tommy Lambeth, and his genuine interest in my previous design work, and support in what he thought I could do for UNCG, is what made UNCG fit for me.  In addition, the opportunity to work with Professor Jonathon Anderson solidified the reason why UNCG could fit with my design goals. I was knowledgeable enough to understand that it’s not always about the facilities or renowned name of an academic institution, but rather the wholehearted support of faculty and the drive of the student to work beyond their means and perceived limitations to push forward and deliver what may seem unimaginable.

What fuels your interest in product design?

It’s fueled by the idea of this cross-disciplinary dialect between the arts, craft, design, and technology.  I feel like it’s a form of self-expression for me.  The process and final product is a part of me and I’m a part of it.  Also, seeing my work progress from the conceptual to the physical form is thrilling!  It’s like having this idea you nurture and give your all to come to life.

What would you contribute to your success as a young designer? Was there one break that brought you to the most recognition?

I believe my love of education and constantly wanting to learn more and more has been a huge part of my success.  My educational foundation parallels my interests. Thus it’s been research and learning that furthered my knowledge of many aspects encompassing design.  I believe my success thus far has been achieved with the combination of my talent, thinking outside the box (“normal gets you nowhere” – Kelly Cutrone), a passionate work ethic, the ability to successfully verbalize my ideas, and making my design goals a top priority that means some sacrifice in many ways.

So far, I’ve experienced a major career breakthrough because of my recognitions in Dwell.  Before this acknowledgement, I was honored to have the full support of my thesis committee members.  I also had others in academia and in the art/design profession tell me that I would be a famous top designer one day and others that were intrigued with my work enough to hand me their card instead of the other way around. I see my publication in Dwell as a culmination of my recognitions.

Do you have any suggestions for other young designers on how to get their work and name into the design world?

Do the work!  Don’t make excuses and never complain, it holds you back and no one else cares. Believe in yourself even in the moments when life seems the most difficult!  For me, it’s about being inspired to rise above the struggles to make my dreams a reality.

Contributed by: Karyn Reilly, Grad Student


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