Alumni Spotlight: Juliette Laroche (17')
Why did you choose the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design?
I took engineering and architecture courses at Woodlands High School. On a tour of the college facilities, I discovered the Industrial Design program. I found a small room filled with senior thesis projects. Someone designed a toothbrush made from bamboo parts and a motorcycle helmet that deployed an airbag to secure the riders neck in case of an accident. This was the first I heard of this major and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else from that moment on.
What drew you to a career in design?
I don’t think I was necessarily drawn into design, I think design drew me in. Since I was a kid, I had always loved inventing and creating solutions to problems that no one had ever thought of. Products surround us on a daily basis, so to have the power to design an object that could change or make someone’s life easier was truly captivating.
What was one of your favorite memories from your time on campus?
My senior year, my studio was tasked to design an adaptive watercraft for people disabled from the waist down. My favorite part was getting to do hands on research with people that would use our watercraft. I enjoyed getting to build the life size seat of our watercraft out of fiberglass for our presentation. This was by far one of the most rewarding projects. Our project ended up winning an IDEA Finalist Award.
How has your thesis project led to career opportunities and additional achievements?
Prior to graduation, I was awarded the Model One Award by Model Solution for my thesis project, a scuba diving mask. I worked with Model Solution’s team of engineers to get my model professionally prototyped and ready to be displayed at the IDSA International Design Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I was one out nine students chosen from around the US for this award. After working with Model Solution, I got a job at IN2 Innovation as an industrial designer. IN2 Innovation is an experience innovation design consultancy, in Austin, Texas.
Since graduating, I have won several more awards for my thesis project. This September I went to New Orleans, Louisiana to receive an IDEA Bronze award for my scuba dive mask project. In November, went to Dubai to showcase my mask during Dubai Design Week as part of Global Grad Show. Only 150 students worldwide were selected to showcase their projects. I was able to meet some of the most creative designers from around the world and get great feedback on my design.
Do you have a design philosophy?
I believe good design comprehends the human complexity and its expectations for simplicity. To achieve this, the form should drive the function. If something isn’t needed based on the research then I believe it shouldn’t be included. I am always asking why until the product feels right for the user and that allows the design to take its truest form of simplicity.
What is a piece of advice you would give to current Architecture and Design students?
Believe in your wild ideas. The professors will teach you the tools and skills needed to achieve these ideas. It may be one of those wild ideas that can take you the farthest. Make sure to stay curious, ask yourself why as much as possible, and stay passionate about what you believe. Always keep a notebook for spur of the moment ideas. You may be surprised how useful that book will be one day.