The end of semester design critique is a unique, and necessary, part of the design degree. Having recently completed my 7th semester at QUT I have noticed a distinct pattern emerges around the last week of semester amongst all design students leading up to presentations. It’s very intense and honestly, I think that even three weeks later I am still recovering. Although at this present moment I am recovering in Vienna, Austria (but I’ll get back to that later).
I always make note of the exact date of my design presentation as soon as it becomes available. I write it in many different places: my diary, my design journal, my phone, my iPod, my laptop calendar… just so that it become permanently stuck in my head for the rest of semester. Of course, there is always that one person in your tutorial that constantly sings out how many weeks are left until the due date. So really, there is no excuse but to be perfectly organised. If only.
Two weeks before it is due, I make a list of all the parts of the assignment I need to complete. I make it as detailed as possible – something for Morning, Afternoon and Night. Most students cut back on work and other commitments around this time because there is absolutely no time to waste. This is where I get most overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work ahead of me. No matter how organised I try to be, there is always more to do, something to change, something to make better.
A week before it’s due is complete chaos. There is nothing else I spend my waking hours doing besides assignmenting, showering and eating. I ignore my body clock to the point where I get no more than 3 hours of sleep a day and lose complete track of what the time is or what day of the week it is. Instead I count in hours/days until presentation, and give myself mini-deadlines such as what time I shall print my panels or finish my model.
The day of the presentation is a somewhat hazy memory. By this stage my peers and I are less concerned with our design, and more with how much sleep everyone has had. It is a hidden prerequisite for the degree is some ways, having the stamina to survive with little to no sleep. My always eyes hurt from no sleep and I have no recollection of my journey from the bus stop to the classroom.
The next day when I awoke, thirteen hours after my head hit the pillow, I am filled with relief that it is all behind me. My only real tip on how to survive the stress leading up to presentations, is having something to look forward to after it is over. This semester a trip to Europe was my perfect excuse. I left Brisbane two days after I finished, with barely anytime to think about what was happening.
And now as I’m writing this from my Vienna apartment I feel like I’m now being rewarded for the hard work I’ve endured since February. Totally worth it.