Product Design Form: Erik Heiki Veelmaa

In April, we will introduce you to Erik Heiki Veelmaa, who is approaching the final stretch of his BA studies.
Name: Erik Heiki Veelmaa
Position: Transportation Designer at Auve Tech
Connection with EKA: Bachelor’s 3rd year student
1. What projects do you have on hand at the moment?
At the moment, I am working most diligently on my diploma thesis, which focuses on Estonia’s shrinking small towns, their future visions and transport in 2050. Of course, work continues at Auve Tech, where I design a small car. In addition, I am also about to start a project in the field of sign system design, which is a first for me and will certainly provide a lot of experience.
2. What is your favourite stage of creating a product and what does it look like?
All stages of product creation must be favourites, so why be a designer at all? If you only like visualization, then be an artist, etc. But if I end my rambling here, I actually enjoy the first part of the project the most, where you can gather information – study literature, statistics, communicate with people and later fit this information into the world that goes with the product, create a system from it. I feel like it’s like putting together a giant puzzle, and that feeling when the pieces start to fit together is one of the best in the world. I approach it like building a world, where every piece of information collected creates a new level of believability for that world, and I always want the world I create to be as believable as possible.
3. Paper and pen vs digital media – which do you prefer?
Both, but..! Paper and pencil is cool and fun and nice and works well for me, but I feel like maybe it’s not that practical? It’s still fun to sketch as a hobby, and it’s DEFINITELY an important skill, especially as a beginner designer. It may seem like it’s just drawing, but it makes you see the world in a different way. As you move around, you notice more patterns, textures, shapes and imagine how they could be conveyed with a line. However, when making a project, it takes too much time and it is difficult to undo mistakes. Usually when I design, I make rudimentary quick sketches that help me get the thought and light form logic out of my brain. I’m moving on to a digital medium (usually 3D), where I can quickly and comfortably manipulate the design object. In the case of quick “3D sketches”, it is also convenient to show the product from all possible angles when meeting with the customer. I also create the final visuals using only digital media – usually a mix of 3D and digital drawing.
4. What is/was your favourite project while studying at EKA?
What discovery did you make about it for yourself? It’s hard to choose a favourite project, I think there are no good or bad projects, it depends on how you feel about yourself. There are many projects that stand out – from visors to bioplastics. But the most outstanding is perhaps the mover project done in the second year. I feel that this project in many ways defined my later choices and direction as a designer. Kiir, as the designed product was named, introduced me to the city as an ecosystem and also sparked a broader interest in transportation and system design. The Liikuri project eventually led to the fact that I am now also doing a diploma thesis on cities and their transport. This included a large part of the research that paved the way for the waterproof concept. In addition, designing the product as a physical object was a very long and tortuous process that taught a lot about visualization, prototyping and creating the final model.
5. Guilty pleasure or “poor design or means of design”, what do you secretly like?
I constantly protest against the car-centric society and personal cars, but I have to admit that I really like cars, from a visual point of view, and they are my favourite subjects to sketch.
6. Something you wish you were a designer?
In my first year, I would have definitely given a long list, but now I would say that there is really nothing that I would have liked to be a designer. Rather, I want to design something myself that some freshman could say, “I wish I were that designer!”
7. 1 good read that has inspired you professionally? (book, article, scientific literature, etc. in print or online…)
I got the biggest inspiration from Elinor Östrom’s “Governing the Commons”, which I read for my thesis, which explains the tragedy of the commons that the world has been facing for a long time. I think it should be required reading, if not for every educated person, then at least for every designer.
8. Besides design, what else attracts you?
Both as a designer and as a person, I’m a big nerd. My classmate and I jokingly say that we are professional nerds. This is also reflected in many of my hobbies. My biggest hobby for the last 6 years has been running Dungeons & Dragons games. It is a special point of pride that all the adventures I have been on have been written and created by myself. I have discovered that writing such a story myself helps to keep the creative block at bay – if the project doesn’t go well, I jump into the adventure document, continue writing the story, and after a while, the creativity is back again. In addition, I am a big exercise freak. This madness started as a child and continues to this day. For now, I have found peace in boxing and callisthenics. There are more of these hobbies and interests, but these two are perhaps the closest to the surface.
9. Which experience so far has shaped you the most as a designer and how?
Of course, I gained the greatest experience from my Erasmus year in Paris, which added more creative design skills to my rather analytical design skills, and gave me opportunities to collaborate with world-renowned companies and a lot of independent thinking. However, the latest experience happened only a few weeks ago. Working on my diploma thesis and going around small towns in Estonia to interview municipalities and communities there, I felt how enormously my horizons widened with every conversation. These conversations gave me a whole new perspective and many times more empathy than I have had before.
10. Portfolio (or something similar) – Where we can learn more about your works and activities.
At the moment, most of my works and activities can be seen here – As many as 3 projects! In fact, I will start to rapidly expand it immediately after submitting my diploma thesis, because there are quite a lot of projects to add to it.
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Posted by Mari Maiste