Art

UWTSD Surface Pattern Design student begins Internship with Rolls-Royce

A Surface Pattern Design student from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has started a coveted paid internship with iconic car manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

Rebecca Davies, 23, gets to spend 13 months as part of the company’s exclusive eight-strong design team, which is based between Goodwood and Munich.   

Rebecca is studying for an MDes degree in Surface Pattern Design, specialising in Textiles for Fashion. The course is based at the University’s Swansea College of Art, Dynevor campus. Once Rebecca completes her internship, she will graduate with a Master of Design degree in Surface Pattern Design: Textiles for Fashion.

To win the Rolls-Royce internship, Rebecca had to submit her portfolio and complete a design project. She was then chosen to attend an interview. While all the work from the university students that took part impressed the Rolls-Royce team, Rebecca stood out in the interview and was given the opportunity. She’s delighted with how the internship is going so far.

“I am getting to work with some incredible designers, researching ongoing topics within the company,” she says. “I’m still finding my feet and trying to understand all of the design potential that this company has to offer. I am receiving insight and mentorship from behind the scenes of an incredibly prestigious motor vehicle design company, with an impressive heritage.

“What is made at Rolls-Royce is more than just motor cars. They are fully customisable modes of transport, where the experience of the backseat passenger is considered to be just as important as that of the driver. It’s the pinnacle of luxury, and it is not lost on me how rare and what a privilege this opportunity is.”

The internship offer came about after UWTSD’s Surface Pattern and Textiles programme met the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Design team several years back when they were visiting the BA Automotive Design programme at UWTSD.  They took a detour and visited the much-loved 5th floor studio in the heart of Swansea College of Art, Dynevor Campus. They were immediately impressed by the diversity of creative questioning and design application that they saw from the Surface Pattern students, and this led them to offer the internship opportunity.

“When a company like Rolls-Royce contacts you to seek out suitable candidates for their internship programme it stops you in your tracks a little bit!” says Georgia McKie, Programme Director.

“We always like to say we are more than just a textiles course – this is what they saw in us too. Rolls-Royce were intrigued by the practice of combining many traditional, hand crafted processes with new, state of the art digital applications. This is integral to our outlook, this is our USP.

“We found out that Rolls-Royce work with a multidisciplinary team in their bespoke unit, including their bespoke interiors designers. This ethos aligns to our programme identity perfectly. The transferability of our students’ design skills and graduate attributes never cease to amaze us.” 

Georgia was delighted by the level of skill and effort that all the students put in while competing for the internship.

“We were so impressed by the way that the students were able to rise to the challenge set by Rolls-Royce to ‘Create a Vision of Modern Luxury and Future Crafts’ – there wasn’t time to feel daunted by the gravitas of the brand!

“Rolls-Royce came to us for the students’ material and craft skills, and their understanding of, and their potential relevance to the luxe design sector. For the students to be able to communicate these attributes so effectively through digital submissions is testament to their advanced multidisciplinary skills which have long been at the core of the Surface Pattern and Textiles programme. The students who submitted projects to Rolls-Royce brought their materiality, patterns, textiles, engraved surfaces and innovative concepts to life, mapped over the dreamiest Rolls-Royce images and styled looks.” 

Now she is excited to see what Rebecca achieves during the apprenticeship.

“The outcome for Rebecca is a game changer,” she says. “We cannot wait to see how she applies her specialism of designing print and pattern for couture level fashion to bespoke Rolls-Royce projects!

“Rebecca has thrived on our programme, she epitomises all that we hope for in our students – her drawing, design and material realisation skills are exceptional as are her communication skills, which enabled her success at digital submission level and interview stage. She has embraced every single opportunity that the Surface Pattern and Textiles student experience has offered her.  We couldn’t be more proud.” 

Rebecca says that she is equally delighted with her experience of UWTSD.

“The tuition and the support on this course are like no other,” she says. “I honestly cannot think of any way in which the team could have worked harder or done better by us. We’ve had to overcome a lot of very odd obstacles over the last 18 months, but it hasn’t been lost on anyone on the course how lucky we have been to have such an incredible and committed staff cohort supporting us throughout these years, studying Surface Pattern Design. 

“In terms of opportunity to create and apply our designs I struggled to find any other course that offered the same facilities. Also, I can’t talk about the support on this course, without mentioning the work put in by our technicians, Sharon Cooper, and Lloyd James. From day one they are there to be as available as possible to help and support us with the facilities, they are invaluable alongside all of our lectures.”

Rebecca adds she would highly recommend her course to others.

“If you love to draw, be creative, innovate and just generally just want to make the surfaces of the world beautiful, then go for it!” she says. “The sense of community has only grown throughout my time on the course. You will receive the support of not only the lecturers and your fellow students, but of the graduates that have come before you. If you choose to take the course, I hope it helps you find your design joy. That’s what it has done for me.”

Once she graduates, Rebecca hopes to continue to build her professional portfolio through both professional and personal projects.

“It would be a dream to get to keep designing patterns, but I am also keen to continue to build my understanding of the design industry and from as many perspectives as possible,” she says.

UWTSD’s Surface Pattern Design programme team are working with Rolls-Royce on an ongoing talent recruitment strategy, so other students on the programme will be enjoying a Rolls-Royce live brief in the not-too-distant future. 

“We are resourceful on behalf of the students; we are demonstrative in the way that we grab every worthwhile live brief and project on their behalf,” says Georgia. “Despite the challenges of the last 16 months we have had some incredible opportunities come our way, there is a palpable sense of the design world bouncing back, and they are reaching out to the next generation of design talent. This is wonderful to be a part of.”  

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