Simon Tarrant is an experienced teacher with a background in civil engineering and construction project management who also works as a Registered DT H&S Consultant at the Association. He recently participated in the Teachers in Residence placement at ELSE. Simon’s prior industry experience and passion for keeping his knowledge up-to-date made him an ideal candidate for the program. Throughout the placement, Simon gained insights into design processes, digital content regulation, and the intersection of design and psychology.
ELSE is a London-based design studio that specialises in digital design and user experience (UX). They work with various clients across a broad range of industries, helping them improve their digital presence and create user-centred design solutions. ELSE focuses on creating innovative and effective digital experiences that engage users and meet business objectives.
The studio is known for its expertise in areas such as user interface (UI) design, interaction design, information architecture, and digital strategy. They employ a human-centered design approach, conducting user research, prototyping, and iterative testing to ensure their designs align with user needs and expectations.
At the beginning of the placement, Simon was uncertain about what to expect due to his limited time spent in design studios. He, therefore, recognised the value of gaining exposure to industry practices and broadening his understanding of the inner workings of a fast-paced design studio and its contributions. Simon however wasn’t a stranger to UX design prior to starting the placement. He already actively incorporated it in terms of mapping a user journey with his students. He explains, “Whenever I’m teaching, design, product design or any type of design, I’m trying to get the students to visualise the whole experience, not just the kind of standard use in a stereotypical sense. Even if you design a piece of furniture, you can still use a lot of the aspects of UX including interactions with a product, the way that the audience encounters the products through retail outlets or advertising and then the unboxing process.”
Meeting Client Needs
ELSE places emphasise on delivering practical solutions to clients and Simon discovered that the studio goes beyond creating visually appealing digital solutions and focuses on improving the overall user experiences and achieving measurable results. By analysing a client’s business and customer interactions, the studio aims to increase customer satisfaction or increase revenue, among other outcomes.
Embedding in the Company
Simon found value in participating in knowledge-sharing sessions and actively contributing to discussions during meetings. One memorable experience was a case study exercise involving reframing and redefining problems. Paired with another designer, Simon worked on a real-world project, enhancing his sense of involvement and providing practical insights into the company’s problem-solving methods.
Digital Design and Prototyping
Simon observed that digital design is evolving rapidly and becoming more significant in the field of design and technology education. He noticed that universities, including Imperial College London, are increasingly incorporating digital design into their courses. Simon highlighted the use of tools like Figma for prototyping and emphasised the importance of minimum viable prototyping to quickly validate ideas and gather feedback from stakeholders or potential users.
Career Advice and Recruitment
The placement enabled Simon to gather valuable information about career opportunities and recruitment practices in the design industry. He discovered that design consultancies like ELSE often seek graduates from programs such as Imperial’s design engineering course. Simon also noted the growing importance of behavioural psychology and behavioural economics in the field, as evidenced by the Experience Architect role with a background in psychology.
The Teachers in Residence placement exceeded Simon’s expectations and provided him with a deeper understanding of design studios and their processes. He highlighted the importance of educators staying updated on industry practices and recommended that other teachers consider similar opportunities. Simon found that his placement at ELSE Experience Design Consultancy increased his conviction in the classroom and equipped him with practical insights to share with his students.
Simon Tarrant’s Teachers in Residence placement at ELSE Experience Design Consultancy proved to be a valuable and enriching experience. By immersing himself in a design studio environment, Simon gained insights into design processes, digital content regulations, and the symbiotic relationship between design and psychology. The placement broadened Simon’s view of a strategic design practice and equipped him with knowledge and experiences to enhance his teaching and career guidance for students.
Hosting teachers in residence fosters relationships and networks between industry and the education community. This collaboration can lead to future partnerships, pilot programs and future talent acquisition. It strengthens the studio’s reputation as a thought leader and an advocate for design-driven education.
“Working with industry experts and manufacturers gave me valuable insights and practical experience. It’s essential for teachers to stay updated with industry practices and collaborate with professionals.”