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The Nomadic Designer: A Design Student Hits the Road on a Mobile Apprenticeship The Nomadic Designer: A Design Student Hits the Road on a Mobile Apprenticeship

The Nomadic Designer: A Design Student Hits the Road on a Mobile Apprenticeship

by Adele Peters

January 26, 2013

As Daniel Cooper was nearing graduation from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, he had one final student project left. He had a month to complete it, and decided to take the time to get as much real-world experience in the design industry as possible. Rather than choosing a standard internship, he ended up getting on a plane. 

He sent a simple proposal to design studios all across Europe: in exchange for two days of work, he asked them to give him advice and professional mentoring. His first offer came from a studio in Iceland, where his short stay helped him reimagine, he says, how much could be accomplished in just two days. His next stop was Istanbul, and for the rest of the month he took the train to studios in Belgrade, Zurich, Berlin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam. 

Calling himself a 'nomadic designer,' Daniel was inspired by the new mobility allowed by technology, as he writes in Computer Arts:

I found a few articles in The Economist about nomadic work practices and the rise of the ‘techno-nomad’. These individuals don’t base themselves in a location— rather, they rely solely on a laptop and internet connection to do their work. The location becomes secondary as the designers become self-sufficient through technology. This is a relatively new trend, made possible by the vast opportunities at our disposal that enable us to connect with others.

When he returned to London, he found a job in just two days; his new employer, Boat Magazine, calls itself a "nomadic design studio" and moves every six months to create a publication about a new city. 

Though Daniel's project isn't one that every student could undertake—for obvious financial reasons—it's an inspiring and creative approach to the increasingly difficult challenge of finding a job. He got to see different design approaches across cultures, and different disciplines, from city planning to advertising. It seems like the sort of trip that would be useful, and fun, for more experienced designers as well.

Images courtesy of Daniel Cooper

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