March 28, 2014

April Soetarman- A designer of all trades and teams

April Soetarman has made Instagram photography an art form. Her own account, “days_of_april”, is a playground for viewers. It highlights Soetarman’s adventures, musings and work as a member of Ei. This sparkling array of photographs makes sense for someone like Soetarman. She is a designer by trade.

Soetarman defines herself as “a designer from the SF Bay Area.” She graduated in 2012 from UC Berkeley with a double-major in Architecture and Music. Soetarman initially worked in product development but one day, on what she refers to as a “TED talk roll”, she discovered Victor Saad and his vision for an experiential graduate program.

“I was still working full-time at that point, so I applied basically on the last day. I knew I wanted to improve as a designer,” says Soetarman “and I did consider a traditional graduate school, but it didn’t seem like the right path just yet; I didn’t feel like going back to the classroom setting. It was also the opportunity to help start something from the very beginning and be on a pretty cool team.”

Soetarman is indeed a team-oriented designer. For her first apprenticeship, she worked at Doejo in Chicago as a project manager. As a project manager, Soetarman explains her main objective “was to learn how to better communicate with clients and manage the design process.”

Self described as “reasonably intelligent, creative, interdisciplinary, and adaptable”, Soetarman found her first apprenticeship taught her all the “ins-and-outs of running a creative agency, both on the business and the design/technical design side.”

Furthermore, she did not come into the apprenticeship with a lot of knowledge regarding web design and web development. “But,” she says “I definitely learned a lot just being in that environment.”

Now in the midst of her second apprenticeship, Soetarman is with another amazing team. She is working with NBBJ, a huge international architecture firm that is divided into studios. Soetarman will be working with Studio 07. “I’ll be more on the maker side for this term of course,” Soetarman says. “One of the things they want to take advantage of with my music/arch(itecture) background is integrating sound into experience design and architecture, which has a lot of potential!”

Along with being a designer in the formal, corporate sense, Soetarman has also worked on unique projects with or for friends. “I’ve done a couple just silly little projects like Christmas gifts or birthday cards that are probably my favorites just because they’re one-of-a-kind things I made for people I care about.” Soetarman also sends out monthly newsletters that she further personalizes with handdrawn comics. Her Instagram also sports her daydream sketches while she sips on a cup of chai.

Ultimately, what Soetarman believes will make her year long program with Ei a success is “if I learn how to not only develop and execute my ideas, but communicate them in ways that others can understand.” From managing projects to marrying music and design and making people smile with her homemade creations, this is something Soetarman is well on her way to accomplishing.

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