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Experimental Design

Izabela Duszenko

I am an experienced designer and artist working at the intersection of physical art, storytelling and moving image design. My practice is focused on user-centred design, research and a multi-modal approach.  

Before attending the Royal College of Art, I completed a Product Design (BSc) at the University of Sussex, where in my final year I developed a set of educational, construction toys aimed at children based around deep sea creatures. The main aim of this project was to create an empathy and connection between the user and the natural world and to communicate the issue of plastic pollution within our oceans.  

During my time at the Royal College of Art I had an opportunity to take part in a VR Project exhibited during the 'Festival of Play' at the V&A Museum of Childhood, London in July 2019. This project was commissioned by The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and the V&A Museum of Childhood. My role involved concept development, physical prototyping, character design and running a data collection workshop at a primary school in London.  

I also took part in a design project involving data collection during a theatre performance entitled ‘Sweet Dreams’ by Mike Kenny. The project was commissioned by Tutti Frutti Productions, The Sleep Charity and Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. My role involved concept development and physical prototyping.  

The aim of my current project is to study our lost connection to the materials and surfaces around us, both natural and synthetic. To recognise the intense relationship and values that we previously had with objects and things, that over time we have lost. To capture, physicalize and attempt to understand the communication between objects within the conscious and the unconscious world in the context of our natural environment, the experience found in the distance between the viewer and the object, the eye and the surface, between a living organism and the matter that surrounds it. My goal is to inspire and influence an audience in a subtle, subliminal manner through immersive experiences to a more balanced, sustainable way of thinking and living, to influence and change our disposable behaviours and prevent further damage to the environment.   


Award of Excellence Institution of Engineering Designers Annual Prize Award 2018 - Best Final Year Project 

LEGO ‘Tag’ Acknowledgement, New Designers, London 2018

Recognition for Research Execution & Overreaching Message from W'Innovate & Wilko, New Designers, London 2018  


Festival of Play, July 2019, V&A Museum of Chilhood, London

Moonscapes, April 2019, Lumen Studios Gallery, The Crypt, Bethnal Green, London   

Interior Futures, March 2019, Royal College of Art, London 




Research & Technical Process


Degree Details

School of Communication

Experimental Design

If we could study our raw, intense relationships to objects from our earliest prehistory, how would it look? We need to strip away the accumulated behaviours, desires and expectations of modern western urban life and experience for ourselves the sensual interactions between us and the inanimate. Our contemporary life experience is a brief moment of time, a breath of history so far and remote from our beginnings. In my project I am studying early humans and their connection with the world and materials and how this relationship has changed due to technological advances, how can we reach more of a balance and reconnect with the natural environment. It would be valuable to understand the motivations that have led us to where we are. We need to consider the earliest human interactions with, and manipulation of, matter into an article of refinement, purpose and value - the discovery in fact of design. This first understanding of material is lost to us in a modern society. The rediscovery of this earliest of human synchronisations between eye, hand, mind and material is at the core of this discussion. To represent this, I am presenting an installation consisting of a sculpture that the viewer will be invited to interact with and a moving image projection. The main inspiration for this subject comes from the works of anthropologist Tim Ingold, Eduardo Kohn and archaeologist Jaquetta Hawkes.   

Communication with the Inanimate - Trailer
As part of the experiential research for the project I also studied folklore, our mythical relationship to the environment and craftsmanship or manipulation of the environment. Elements of these aspects are included in an animated film that will be projected as a part of installation together with the physical interactive sculpture. Storytelling was as much a vital part of early cultures as the materials themselves. Stories imparted instruction and information generationally through parable and can engage younger groups just as much today and cross over to older generations as well. The medium I am using is stop motion animation, which is I feel pure to the message itself. Tactile, crafted objects in the form of characters allow us literally to bring the inanimate to life. The narrative is based on our relation to materials and how it has changed due to time and technology. The main character that I am using to communicate this concept is the fictional Dryad of folklore, a tree nymph who explores the world through discovering and communicating with the materials of its environment. The main animation is inspired by stop motion films by the Brothers Quay, and movies such as Dreams by Akira Kurosawa, Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo Del Toro and the graphic work of Shaun Tan.

Audio - James_longley & LogicMoon


1 min 35 sec

In Collaboration with:

Character designed and build in collaboration with Martin Perrott, Creative Modelmaker
Animationcharacter designCommunicationenvironmentfolkloreInteractionMaterialsnaturesensory immersive experiencesStop-motion animationStorytellingSustainability
The accompanying sculpture will allow the viewer to physically enter into the animated Dryad’s story by taking part in its exploration of materials. The sculpture is based around a large natural flint, one of the first materials early man communicated by transforming and reshaping. The other elements of the piece are made from glass, bronze, wood and ceramic, these represent other materials our early ancestors interacted with. The sculpture is a puzzle, each element fits neatly onto the larger flint, though this is not obvious, and the viewer needs to study the form in order to firstly realise that the parts fit together then experiment to connect them. To do this a user needs to communicate by studying the surface and form of the individual parts in a minor way. The intention is to emulate the behaviour of the craftsman when he holds a piece of wood, stone or metal and transforms it into an object of design. The aim of this interaction is to create an experience of calmness, thoughtfulness and recognition. I feel as a modern society we do not necessarily interact or understand at a mindful level anymore our relationship with the objects and things that surround us, and I wish to use this project as a study tool as well as a visual educational piece.

Antony Scala (glass casting), Ian Stoney (bronze casting), Robert Perrott (woodwork).


flint, glass, bronze, wood, clay


30 cm x 20 cm

Spatial Design Proposal

Spatial Design Proposal - Outdoor Space

Spatial Design Proposal - Indoor Space

The project is aimed at an audience distanced from their natural environment, industrial, urbanised communities. The installation could exist as pop-up and travel to schools and universities, parks, woodlands and beaches within an indoor or outdoor space as an educational tool in order to create discussion and promote an interest in materials of the natural environment. The space consists of two areas, the first involving the moving image projection, this is then followed by a meditative space where users can interact with the sculpture.

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