June 9, 2017

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Industrial Designer Carmen Liu’s Explorations to Create Immersive Experiences

What are you working on—on the side?

I don’t have a particular side project right now—although I’m planning for one. I’m always on the lookout for ways to create an immersive experience and change the perspectives of those who participate.

Regarding past side projects, my favourite one is the “100 in 1 day” event in Toronto, where we placed mini trampolines into the ground, so when people walked along the path (photo above), they could opt to do it a little differently and jump along the path! On the day of the event, we sat across the trampolines and watched people cautiously approach them with curiosity, and then a crack a smile when they realized they can jump on the trampolines. “100 in 1 day” encouraged small scale “interventions” within a city.

Other side projects were smaller explorations like how can I send a high-five virtually to my friend? And how do I create a jig for ½-scale bicycles?

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

It’s hard to have a full-time job that requires your attention and intellect, and then a side project on top of that—so there’s a fine balance, as if working and making dinner wasn’t keeping me busy enough! At times, it feels like I’m having two full-time jobs, except one pays me in money and the other pays in feelings of satisfaction. However, I love doing both types of work. I keep a calendar that monitors open calls for proposals and events that I would be interested to be a part of. This way, I can somewhat plan ahead with regards to having interesting work to submit.

Why have a side project?

Side projects keep my day-to-day life exciting! Working on side projects allows me to stretch my imagination and learn new things I wouldn’t do on a regular basis, and is both fun and rewarding. Expectations set around money and time become secondary (within reason) to the discovery and creation of the imagination. It also gives me agency to make change in the world in a very quirky way. Side projects become a space for exploration that can be shared with others.

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Diptych courtesy of Carmen Liu.

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Read more about the joy of side projects.

This series, devoted to side projects, is delivered in association with Chicago creative agency 50,000feet—dedicated to helping brands and businesses soar.

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