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“My world” in design | Interview with designer Dorottya Párdányi

She’s very young, but has already had many successes. Her logical toy “Kockacifánt” was showcased at the Hungarian Design Award exhibition, and she also won a special prize in the framework of the Talentométer creative game design competition. She currently works for the prestigious HAY design brand. We interviewed Dorottya Párdányi, a designer living and working in Denmark. 

Dorotty Párdányi commenced her studies at the department of industrial product design of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, now she is doing her MA studies at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), she works on expanding and developing the furniture collection of Danish brand HAY, and she also plans to establish her own brand.

Let’s start at the beginning: why did you decide to continue your studies in Denmark? What are the differences between education here and there?

I always wanted to try myself abroad, so when I finished my bachelors, it seemed reasonable to also apply to a foreign university. I was always drawn to Scandinavian design, this is why I chose Denmark. Education is much more practice-oriented there. There are less lectures and they rather urge us to use what we’ve learnt. Many free workshops are available for students, so ideas can be tested and validated more quickly. If we have any questions, the teachers help us of course, but independent thinking and problem-solution in teams are in the focus. In addition, there are no exams (or at least I didn’t have any) that are so typical of education in Hungary. 

Let’s get back to your studies in Hungary a bit. Can you tell us about the background of the wildly successful Kockacifánt? What is this game exactly and where did the idea come from? 

Kockacifánt is a developing toy for kids, primarily for children between the age of 5 and 8. The toy itself is a simple wooden cube frame, on which children have to create the task displayed on the card in 2D with the help of rubber bands in 3D. 

Kockacifánt primarily improves logics, spatial perception and fine motor skills playfully, but it can also develop children’s skills in matching colors and following patterns. As the first step of the project, I carried out problem exploration, this is how I encountered the challenges arising in the learning process, that more and more children struggle with acquiring basic skills, and these different skills are hard to correct within the frames of traditional education. Developing fine motor skills and the eye-hand coordination skills are especially important before school, as these are the basis of writing and reading. Unfortunately the toy is not available on the market yet, although I receive numerous enquiries from potential customers. 

The concept of the outdoor mobile Ember smart lamp is built on the philosophy of hygge, which also represents your interest in Danish culture. What challenges did you have to face with the project, and how did product development go?

Designing the Ember lamp was quite adventurous, since the other members of the designer team live in London and Provo (Utah). All of our meetings took place online, and we met in person in London for the first time, during the creation of the prototype. 

Photo: Aislynn Edwards/BYU 

It was a fascinating experience that we worked on the lamp, which, by the way, was made at the request of Black Diamond Equipment, together with electronic and mechanical engineers. This company manufactures equipment primarily for mountaineering, skiing and other mountain sports. 

Photo: Aislynn Edwards/BYU 

The concept of the Ember lamp reflects on the valuable time that people doing these sports spend together. It resembles a campfire in its colors, and its tactile design and natural materials create an intimate atmosphere. It has no buttons, you can switch it on and control its color by turning. 

Currently you work for HAY, one of the most well-known and prestigious design brands, as a product developer. How should we imagine work processes at a company of this kind? 

Product development is very busy. There are quite many projects in progress at the same time, and new prototypes arrive to the office almost every day. The work is extremely diverse. In addition to traditional modeling and visualizations, there are many quality check tasks, communication with manufacturers, factory inspections, furniture testing which also make the everydays exciting. My team is incredibly inspiring. I feel that I learn a lot, for which I am immensely grateful. I can gain an insight into processes and decisions that no one talks about, that you can’t learn in school. 

You have already tried yourself in a variety of projects. You have a diverse portfolio: it includes furniture, lamp, games and graphics jobs, too. Earlier you also wanted to be a textile designer. How do you feel, did you find yourself in the Danish world and the field of furniture design?

Absolutely! I love living in Denmark, and I enjoy what I do now very much. I love that my workplace is so exciting, inspiring and that I can learn so much. People here are generally more open to design, and of course they can afford purchasing design products more. 

After graduation, in addition to your job at HAY, you would also like to build your own brand. The first sign of this is that you have created your own Instagram page and website, too. What kind of products and projects would you like to work on?

I would like to find “my world” in design. I have been thinking about it for some time, this is why I created moii studio. I am primarily interested in furniture design and home accessories, household objects. Currently I work on a candle holder.

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