2016

»It was great to be shown so much trust« : The IXDS internship experience

No coffee collecting here! After his six-month stint at our Berlin studio, Lucas Rex gave us the lowdown on life as an IXDS intern.
Lucas's internship saw him diving head first into projects that gave him the full service and interaction design experience. Thankfully we didn’t scare him away; Lucas came out swimming and showed us some impressive skills along the way. Before we bid him farewell to finish his Masters in product design at Berlin Weissensee Art Academy, we sat him down for a little Q&A to hear what it’s really like to be an intern at IXDS. 
What attracted you to IXDS?

IXDS has a strong focus on service and interaction design and they follow a user-centered approach to make design relevant, which I think is really important. What’s also quite unique about it is the strong engineering hub; so you can go into serious and quick prototyping with experts – it’s a great merging of design and engineering expertize.  

Once you were in the door, what were your first impressions?

I came to a couple of Pre-Work Talks before I started so I already had a bit of an idea of the culture and how the space feels. And this really turned out to be true; it was a very friendly and open culture. You really notice as soon as you walk into the office that with all the open space – there aren’t many closed rooms – that people really approach you. It’s a really friendly atmosphere. 

You were straight into it from day 1. How did you find your level of work?

 

It really was like this. I think on my second day I was already on a fixed project team, which was really cool. It was great to be shown so much trust to put me on a team straight away.

Throughout the six months, I was doing many different tasks. In the first project I was on we were developing the concept for a smartphone app in the smart home context. It was a short project, around six weeks, so we really had to jump straight into the ideation phase and so on. On another project we were re-designing a web platform. This was really interesting and it for example also involved conducting workshops. I was also asked to come up with the re-design for the IXDS website navigation and search function and do the implementation support. It was really cool to have the opportunity to do something like this on my own, with feedback from other people. It was a big contrast to being on a project team where somebody else coordinates what happens and what the next steps are; instead, I had to come up with my own schedule and so on.   

What were your biggest learnings and takeaways?

Content wise, for example visual design, was something I hadn’t gone that deep into until now and I really learnt a lot from it. Also time management and being staffed on multiple things in parallel, and meeting people’s expectations to deliver on time, was definitely a challenge. I learnt to plan responsibly to fulfil these expectations. The positive and optimistic work culture at IXDS is also something I want to stick to for myself. 

What’s next?

Me and my colleagues Max and David’s university project Shortcut, which is a wearable for amputees, was recently awarded the Starts Prize by ARS Electronica, and we’ll be exhibiting at the event in Austria next week. We were also asked to give a talk about it at Retune Festival next month, which is super exciting.

In October I’ll be jumping back into university work. I have one semester left to complete my Master thesis, together with my colleague David, which will most likely deal wth Digital money with a focus on kids. At least that’s the state right now, we’ll see what happens. 

Check out the video for Lucas' Shortcut project below. Using gesture control, the digital wristband gives amputees the freedom to freely interact with computers.   

Shortcut, a project by Lucas Rex, Maximilian Mahal, David Kaltenbach
Would you recommend an internship at IXDS?

I would definitely recommend it. IXDS really feels like what they call “a living prototype”. I think that actually suits quite well, as everyone is really open to improving how things are done. You can proactively contribute to how you want to work, and which projects you’re are interested in. Also, in general, if you come up with a work set-up, or ways to deal with projects, people are very open to it. I think that’s cool; you can really be proactive about work processes. Workwise IXDS is also doing a really great job, so I would definitely recommend the internship experience.