Niamh Mundy, a third year BA (Hons) Product Design student, spent three weeks at the University of Johannesburg this summer on a Universitas 21 exchange.

Niamh was one of two University of Edinburgh students selected to attend the University of Johannesburg on a programme entitled ‘Fabricating Design Space/s’.

Below Niamh outlines her experience.

“Over the summer, I had the opportunity to take part in a summer course at the University of Johannesburg, the capital city of South Africa. Having never been outside of Europe before, this sounded like an amazing adventure from the start. I was among one of the 10 students from around the globe to partake in the summer school, Ukuluka.

‘Ukuluka’ is the Zulu word for ‘knitting’, and the course focused on using artisanal silver lace weaving in contemporary African jewellery design. As someone currently studying Product Design, with no experience in jewellery manufacture, this was a unique experience that enabled me to gain skills and understanding that have truly helped develop me as a designer.

We spent the first week taking part in a lot of fun activities, such as safari trips, going Gold Reef City theme park and visiting underground markets, all of which helped us to bond and get to know one another better. We ate authentic South African cuisine and were taken to significant historical locations, such as the Hector Pieterson Memorial, Nelson Mandela’s House, and Constitution Hill.

Niamh (fourth from left) and fellow exchange students
Image courtesy of Niamh Mundy
Niamh (fourth from right) and fellow exchange students

I would encourage any ECA student to apply for the programme because it is an amazing opportunity to experience different cultures, see new influences and learn new skills. Taking part in Ukuluka truly was the experience of a lifetime...

Niamh Mundy, Product Design

Jewellery design is far more artistic than any design work I had done previously. It focuses on form rather than function, to complement or draw attention to one's physical form rather than to aid a person in any way. This meant we used free hand, inspirational drawings to research our concepts and develop our ideas, focusing on including all of the minute details of a subject. The final piece I made was a contemporary style earring, influenced by the beauty of the feathers of a peacock as they frayed out.

I would encourage any ECA student to apply for the programme because it is an amazing opportunity to experience different cultures, see new influences and learn new skills. Taking part in Ukuluka truly was the experience of a lifetime and the time I spent in South Africa will remain a highlight of both my personal and academic life for years to come.”

Alan Mackay, the University’s Deputy Vice-Principal International and Director of Edinburgh Global says: “The University is working to increase opportunities for our students to work, study and volunteer overseas. Through our membership of the Universitas 21 network, students at all stages of their studies can apply to various programmes within the network including summer schools, research conferences and online study experiences that assist our students to thrive in and contribute to an interconnected world”.

Edinburgh Global is the home of a variety of opportunities for students to have international experiences, including those through Universitas 21. More information is available on the Edinburgh Global website.


Are you interested in studying Product Design - BA (Hons) at Edinburgh College of Art?


Related links