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Meet the Pixel Sunglasses + Ryan (the student designer)

Ryan Turss’ Pixel sunglasses was the chosen design when RMIT Student Life collaborated with the Product Design students. We caught up with Ryan over coffee to find out more about him, the...

RMIT University Pixel Sunglasses     RMIT University Pixel Sunglasses      RMIT University Pixel Sunglasses

In 2018, the Diploma of Product Design students collaborated with RMIT Student Life to create a unique product for the RMIT community to be sold as merchandise in the More Than A Campus Store in 2019. The collaboration allowed students to gain practical experience working with a client and offered them an opportunity to see their design come to life.The students each worked on their ideas and presented their designs in a final pitch to RMIT Student Life staff.

Ryan Turss’ Pixel Sunglasses was the chosen design as it demonstrated originality basing the frame of the sunglasses off the RMIT pixel logo and showed that there was a gap in the market for this product. We caught up with Ryan over coffee to find out more about him, the design, and the process of seeing his design come to life.


You're studying a Diploma of Product Design, what does product design involve?

I’m still figuring out what product design is. I make various things from kettles to shoes to sunglasses. All the little things that help us in our daily lives and add some sort of value to us. It’s not engineering product design, but on a smaller scale. They are still necessary items that you would notice in your home if they weren’t there. You would notice a home without a kettle; it wouldn’t feel like a home.


Where does your creative side come from?

It’s partly something you’re born with, but I think it’s a skill. Creativity comes from practising it, and thinking in different ways. I like to have different things; I don’t like to be the same as everybody. I like being unique, and turning something that exists upside down to think of it in a different way.


What was it about product design that made you want to take this course?

I originally wanted to create shoes. I think there are not enough everyday shoes. You can wear sneakers as athletic shoes, but I want to create something you can wear with jeans that is very adaptable. I still want to do that, but I think I can make a lot of other things as well. Now I’m realising that you can take the same principles that you learn from that but apply that to making different objects.


Are there any brands that inspire you?

I like Puma a lot. They collaborate with a lot of different designers. They made a shoe with Philippe Starck who is one of the most well-known product designers. I really like their style, it’s a bit off to the side, and it’s a bit strange.  


Once you’re done with school mid next year, what’s the next step for you? 

I think this is it for me. This is what I want to do until the day I die. It has really become a part of my life. I want to get into a job where I can learn and develop, and then eventually branch out into something of my own. That way I can really be free and make whatever I choose. However, I definitely need to work for someone; I would enjoy getting the structure to understand how to really go about creating things.


What other interests do you have?

I like working out. It’s good to get away from things, and release any anger. I feel so calm after I work out; it’s very cathartic. I also enjoy travelling! I’ve been to almost 30 countries. I’ve been to a few different places; Europe, Africa, and America. I’ve been to the USA five times and I’m going again at the end of the year. It’s similar to Australia, but it’s so completely different. It’s a crazy place!


Do you think your traveling has helped open your mind to what you are designing?

I think it has definitely opened my mind. I don’t know if I have made that connection to what I’ve produced yet. I’ve had different experiences; I don’t think it has directly influenced me, but definitely indirectly. One thing I remember from Africa was they used reclaimed lion bones to create bracelets. They made sure that the animal wasn’t killed to make a bracelet. For the wood that would be used in a fire, it had to be from a tree that was knocked down by an elephant or other animal. They couldn’t chop down a tree in the Serengeti.


Are you happier knowing that your product is going to be made out of ethically sourced materials?

As designers we are being pushed towards sustainable design for a good cause. I don’t want something with my name on it ending up in a garbage pile in the ocean. It’s going to be there for 1000 years, it’s going to cause more and more problems. The earlier we get onto being more sustainable; it’s going to create a better planet in the future. I’m glad to have my name on a product that is good for everybody. 

What led you to design the Pixel Sunglasses? 

I draw inspiration from what is most recent in my mind. I can’t remember what happened three years ago, but I think of something that happened on Tuesday, and I put it into a design I make on Friday. I think that the universe has natural timing and I trust in that. I don’t try to force things. I don’t sit there and sketch on a blank piece of paper trying to force something out of me. I let ideas have me rather than me have ideas. I think opportunities like this are why RMIT is ahead of a lot of other universities. It’s great to know that we are being put in a position to expose our skills while we’re still here and still learning. We have resources; we have great teachers like Kath. She’s been really supportive throughout this process.


Why do think this product resonates with the RMIT community?

I don’t know if I made something for other people or if I made it for myself. When I thought of something for the More Than A Campus Store, I put myself in the customer perspective and thought about what I would want to see there. What would I want to buy? What would excite me? What is the point of me making something that I wouldn’t buy myself? It may sound selfish but really I created something that I want to see and have. For me, I like to stay away from looking at too many things because that will influence you. If you can think without seeing any influence whatsoever, you have the ability to make an interesting product. I think that people can respect that this product is made by a student. 


What has been the biggest lesson for you throughout this whole process so far?

The process isn’t over yet. There are a million little lessons that all culminate to learning a whole process. Interaction of people with the client and meeting new people involved in the process, that’s probably one of the biggest lessons. It’s not every day you go to a design studio, or get to see your design come to life. That’s not an everyday thing.


This is the first blog post in a series of three following the journey of Ryan and the Pixel Sunglasses. Stay tuned for part two soon. 

Images by Tori Hyland. 


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