Ben Tew

Senior lecturer, MA Design Interaction

Ben Tew is a senior lecturer on our MA Design Interaction course. He has a wealth of experience across the globe working on design solutions for clients such as Coca-Cola, Dyson and LG.

He continues to develop creative work, taking inspiration from the outdoors, nature, light and movement to merge technology with art, a concept which is at the heart of design interaction.

Ben Tew

Where did your interest in engineering and design come from?

My parents. My mother is an artist and my father worked in the biotech industry. My mother encouraged me to be creative and encouraged me to pursue my interest in illustration and making while my father inspired me to study science and engineering.

Where did you study?

I have a Master in Design Studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (MDes), a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech and a Master of Industrial Design from Virginia Tech.

How do you combine technology into your creative work?

I like to look at the design goals we are trying to achieve with an installation or the piece of artwork. I let the end experience be the driving force and I then like to look at how current technologies can help achieve the design goals and perhaps enhance the experience.Alternatively, if I learn about a new exciting piece of technology it can spark ideas for new experiences.

" Ultimately, I like to make sure that the technology is not forced into work just for the sake of having it there. The tech component needs to enhance and integrate fully with the goals of the piece."

What has been your favourite project which combines the two areas?

It has to be the installation for the Coca-Cola Pavillion at the 2012 London Olympics. While at Jason Bruges Studio I was part of the team that was tasked with creating an immersive installation that embodied the energetic experience of serving and sharing a Coca-Cola.

The installation consisted of 180 bespoke illuminated mechatronic bubbles that hovered above participants. These bubbles would react to the increasing number of people in the room and also as people would cheer over specially designed interactive tables. This installation was a great example of using high level technology to create an immersive interactive experience.

How do you use your experience in your teaching?

I like to bring my knowledge of industry practices and cutting edge technology into my teaching. I am keen to introduce students to new tech and encourage them to be experimental with the ways technology can be integrated into their work.

You've worked around the world. What do you think of Sheffield as a place to be a designer?

I think Sheffield is a fiercely independent town with talented pool of local artists and designers. As a Designer/Maker I find it amazing that you can find the expertise to get literally anything made in one place. From electronics to old school metal forgings – you can find someone in a "works" here that can help you bring designs to life.

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