DMU grads prove popular in global design competition

A short animation and a sustainable design have earned two talented De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) graduates the public vote in an international competition.

Shaun Alagoa at his graduation ceremony in November

Creative concepts by Animation graduate Shaun Alagoa and Interior Design graduate Varaniyaa Umamaheswaran proved popular in the 2021 Global Design Graduate Show in collaboration with Gucci and hosted by Arts Thread, the online launchpad for emerging artists and designers.

Open to students from a range of disciplines, the annual competition is a chance to share creative work among peers from around the world, and get judged by industry leaders and the public.

Road Trip, Shaun’s short animation about a group of friends who embark on a thrilling adventure, earned him the public vote in the Digital/Visual Communication/Film category.

A still from Shaun's animation, Road Trip

The 23-year-old Nigerian said: “Winning was unexpected, but I’m really proud. Doing most of my work from my student accommodation during the pandemic, there were times when I just wanted it to be done and I didn’t have a good feeling about it. But this award has made me really happy.”

Primarily a 2D illustrator and artist, Shaun challenged himself with Road Trip, learning how to use new software to incorporate 3D elements into his animation.

“I wanted to really push myself, so I created 2D characters in a 3D environment. Ultimately my animation won the public vote, but I think it helped that I’m good at organising my ideas and showing my process. I think people enjoyed seeing that side of things too,” he said.

A still from Shaun's animation, Road Trip

Adding his achievement to his CV paid off in a recent job interview with film production company Stronghold NYC, resulting in Shaun landing a concept artist role on an upcoming major movie.

He said: “It’s a really exciting opportunity and I can’t wait to see my name in the credits.”

Shaun has also successfully applied to the ScreenSkills Animation Trainee Finder, a paid placement programme, which he hopes to start next year. “I’m really looking forward to it, as I’ll also get access to mentorship, training and bursaries,” he said.

“My tutor wrote me a letter of recommendation for the programme and I’m really grateful for the support. Even after graduating, DMU has continued to email be about relevant job opportunities and it’s given me peace of mind knowing that I can still access the university’s careers service now.”

Varaniyaa Umamaheswaran at her graduation ceremony in November

Varaniyaa won the public vote in the Product/Architecture/Interiors category for her sustainable department store design called Re-Earth, which provides consciously manufactured goods and a range of facilities such as repairing, recycling, educational resources and workshops.

She designed a transparent and creative space, incorporating glass cylinder shop floors, interactive pods, studios and a holographic exhibition, allowing visitors to engage and learn more about the benefits of slow fashion.

“I didn’t expect to win against so many other great entries, but I’m really happy and it’s something that will boost my CV and that I can talk about in interviews,” said the 23-year-old Tamil Sri Lankan.

Re-Earth: staircase to the first floor

“With fast fashion becoming more of an issue for us globally, I wanted to raise awareness of it. Re-Earth is a place where people can become more educated about where their clothes come from and how to make them last longer.”

Since graduating, Varaniyaa has been working at the Diamonds Factory, a luxury jewellery company based in London. Originally recruited for her Norwegian language skills – she was born in Norway – Varaniyaa is also putting her degree to good use.

Re-Earth: repairs studio

She said: “I’m responsible for managing our entire Norwegian department, and as the company is expanding into other Scandinavian countries too, I’m doing a lot of translating too.

“I’m also involved in their interior design projects for three upcoming showrooms in the UK, and I got to help design our new office space in London.”

Posted on Tuesday 21st December 2021

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