Digital Experience Design Crew One: Meet the Students.

This year, we launched the world’s first Digital Experience Design MA Programme. We were joined by 19 students full of ambition to become world-leading Experience Designers.

We designed the MA in response to industry demand. Through intensive research, we identified a gap between what is taught at school and what a designer needs to know to build products, services and systems in the real world. We handpicked its Programme Leader, Lauren Currie, from industry and co-designed the MA with industry leaders.

In April, we welcomed nineteen students to Manchester, the inaugural crew of the Digital Experience Design MA programme. Alongside the key elements that make it a unique MA programme, they’ll spend an intensive six months learning our tools. Industry leaders will coach them, and they'll work on real, live client briefs from a wide range of clients across the public, private and third sector.

We are thrilled to introduce them to you.

Austin, Gaelle, Dessy, Tiago


Austin Beer, USA

Austin was inventing new ways for people to use interactive video. And (as he puts it, not us!) he was also failing at getting autonomous drones to fly. “I wanted to jump-start my career as a kickass experience designer. I also want to act more Swedish in my everyday life.” Fett, Austin, väldigt Fett.

Gaelle Le Gélard, France

Gaelle worked as a graphic designer and Art Director in a design studio in Paris and then, had the same role for a fashion brand in Stockholm. “My previous jobs, besides being very interesting and challenging, were too focused on making beautiful things, not useful ones or ones that would make some difference for people. The Digital Experience Design MA is the opportunity to do this at last and to put meaning in what I do. Looking at the plan for the courses I think we are programmed to reach the sky!”

Dessy Chongarova, Bulgaria

As a producer at a digital agency, Dessy was working on concepts and designs for web and mobile apps. “I'm self-taught as a designer and I came to a point where I felt the need of guided learning to level up. I wanted to be surrounded by like-minded people and the new Digital Experience Design programme, led by Lauren Currie, seemed like the best fit.”

Tiago Varandas, Portugal

Tiago was a former Interactive Art Director at W+K Amsterdam. Since then he’s been Lead Designer at his mobile design studio Little Nice Things ( in Amsterdam creating projects like this Boat sharing app called "We are on a Boat". He has also been collaborating on location with other studios/companies such as B-Reel NY, Google Paris, and Fjord Stockholm. Speaking of Hyper Island he says, “I want to create delightful and meaningful digital products and services with a human-centered design approach.

And also to be a better person.”

Clint, Kara, Ligia, Jia


Clint Pick, Namibia

Clint originally studied Computer Science and worked as a Creative prior to Hyper Island. “I came to Hyper Island to move out my comfort zone, to experience a new way of learning and to work with creative people.”

Kara Western, USA

Kara was working in a hospital as a research coordinator doing clinical and quality improvement research. Part of her job was finding ways to reduce medication errors and noise within the hospital. “I wanted to be challenged. I want to learn new techniques on how to make people's lives better.”

Ligia Oliviera, Brazil

Ligia has been working as a digital strategist for customer experience at Telefonica group in Brazil. “I was looking for a place that could inspire me as a professional and most of all as a human being. When you work designing experiences is vital to understand and connect with people. I want to thrive as an agent of change and I think Hyper Island is the right place to be.”

Jia Liang Wong, Singapore

Jia wanted to contribute to a meaningful cause of helping others and immersed himself for over four years in the field of healthcare operations, where he felt his work could help improve patient care. Besides attending to daily operational matters, he managed projects to improve patient experience and learnt how important patient centricity was to the re-design of healthcare services. “I wanted to become a better problem solver, by dedicating my time and energy to learn intensively from the best in the industry. I wanted to be in the company of like-minded and passionate individuals with the “can do” spirit.”

Chloe, Maggie, Christine, Joao


Chloe Eunsung Kim, South Korea

Before Hyper Island, Chloe worked as a Strategist in a brand agency. “I want to bring meaningful change.”

Maggie Peterson, USA

Maggie owned a small product development and branding design studio in Chicago. She worked mostly with art material supply companies, designing products, packaging, displays, and creating websites and videos. “I was interested in learning about human-centered design and exploring different design fields. I wanted to receive guidance and inspiration from industry leaders during this exploration.”

Christine Valentin, Sweden

Christine worked as a web analytics consultant for three years, after which she developed digital services and marketing strategies for four years. “I think design is a critical tool to solve current and future business, social and economic challenges. I wanted to learn Hyper Island's human-centered design approach and move myself closer to the sweet spot where creative innovation occurs.”

Joao Chin da Silva, Brazil

Joao runs his graphic design studio in Sao Paulo where he also works as an art director.
Coming from an offline design background, he’s looking forward to the digital experience. “I came to Hyper Island because I wanted to shake things up. I want to immerse in the digital experience design area and also to get updated. I knew that Hyper Island could also help me to be a better team player and eventually a leader.”

Hasan, Emma, Natalie


Hasan Habib, Pakistan

Before coming to the Digital Experience Design programme, Hasan was part of Digital Media Management Programme (catch them on #dmmcrew4!). Here he was exploring how design can bring about positive social impact. Prior to that, he had been trained as a multidisciplinary designer focusing on interactive, motion and communication design. “I came back to Hyper Island to dig deeper into the understanding of designing for human needs. I am keen on exploring fields of Service Design and User Experience, keeping in mind having fun and coming up with awesome ideas.”

Emma Crowe | UK

Emma has worked in large, global organisations in the Telco and Tech industry, helping the exec team to position the company as the right partner for their target customers. An understanding of marketing and building go-to-market strategies has led her in many directions. From solving customer challenges, to most recently as Creative Director in Malaysia, leading a team of designers and developers, but there was something missing. “After realising that User Experience was the missing element in EVERYTHING I've been doing, I knew I needed to fill that void. I want to build experiences that are beautiful in simplicity and intuitive in function. And only Hyper Island can help me achieve this.”

Natalie Foo, Australia

Before joining Hyper Island, she was the co-founder of a London-based web development company that worked with public companies and SMEs, specialising in developing solutions using open-source technology such as Drupal. Alongside running her company, she and her team also explored some social enterprise ideas. “I wanted to accelerate my personal development and learn more skills in human centred design. I liked the approach that Hyper Island has to learning and the fact that the programme has been developed very closely with industry. Afterwards, I want to apply my new skills and self to (hopefully) help make the world better place!”

Jonny, Tracey, Soraya


Jonny Howle, USA

Before Hyper Island, Jonny was working as a Creative Director for a sports app startup in Provo, UT. “I came to Hyper Island because the startup I was at failed. I chose to ride that momentum and come to Hyper Island where I could push myself further, fail more, and fail faster, in hopes that when it is all said and done, I will be due for success.”

Tracey Valliere-Evans, UK

Tracey formerly ran around in vertiginous heels as founder & creative director of a small fashion label. Various freelance creative work followed this; from suits to rigger boots, and then she achieved a degree in Design: Creative Media – Games Art. “I came to Hyper Island to enter the Experience Design industry, build my skills & knowledge in the world of user experience/service design, design at a higher level, enhance all my digital skills, explore my next career path, and thus step up into my next career…self-development with an MA!”

Soraya Cadelli, Switzerland

What was Soraya up to before Hyper Island? It goes a little something like this… Designing → Get lost → Designing → Get lost…(her words!) “I was designing and thinking without ever having heard about design thinking. I thought maybe it's a sign?”

If you'd like to keep up with life at Hyper Island, including the students, follow our journey on Instagram and the hashtag #DXDCrew1. (You'll get to see the original introduction pictures too!).

About the Digital Experience Design MA Programme

Hyper Island's new MA in Experience Design has been designed in response to demand from industry. There is currently a gap between what schools teach and what a designer needs to know to build products, services and systems in the real world.

The role of a designer is shifting. A product today is rarely just physical and consumers expectations are higher than ever. The challenge for designers is to design and deliver meaningful experiences, both online and offline.

The MA in Digital Experience Design will develop your technical, creative and strategic skills as an experience designer to lead the change within this evolving industry.

Applications are now open for our next intake. Apply online here.