Only one week left at my internship here at the Toyota Material Handling Design Center in Mjölby. It has been a nice 9-month experience, not only thanks to the type of work in industrial design I get to do, but also thanks to the colleagues in my department, as well as the entire Östergötland region of Sweden. All together these factors have made this an excellent experience.
My name is Viljami Räisänen and I’m from Finland. I’m currently studying for my Master’s in Transportation Design at Umeå University in Sweden. One year ago I participated with two of my classmates in the Toyota Logistic Design Competition, where we finished in 3rd place. And that’s how I got here: one of the prizes was the opportunity to apply for an internship at Toyota Material Handling Europe.
Even though I am currently studying car design, forklifts seem to be related to that area: I think that user-centered principles apply to every field of design. For example, if a designer is able to design a car with great consideration for the driver he/she is able to apply that knowledge and approach to other products as well. Moreover, forklifts have taken steps towards a bolder design such as car-like features in exterior design. It is an evolution that is interesting to follow, as this is an industry where the design and appearance of the products are heavily based on their functionality.
I’ll continue with a few thoughts about my stay here in southern part of Sweden. The town I work in is surprisingly small for a company of this size, but it neighbours a larger town: Linköping, which I find quite charming. It’s a great place to go out for drinks or dinner, or even to do some shopping. But currently I live 30 kilometres further, in a town called Borensberg. It’s a tiny, tiny village with only two grocery stores and a cafeteria. Despite its modest appearance, I like it here. The area is in the countryside which makes it quite idyllic. And I own a car, so it is easy to explore the surrounding areas, as cities like Gothenburg and Stockholm are within driving distance from where I’m staying.
The Design Team at Toyota Material Handling is small but dynamic. All designers are focused on a different core area where they are best at. In addition, there are many other employees and product developers who are involved in the steps between manufacturing and design, such as surface modelers, ergonomists, and so on.
The designer’s role in this industry has became more clear during my stay. I have been given a number of different tasks: all the way from my own conceptual study (which I can add to my portfolio) to the development of Toyota Material Handling’s product range. Among my tasks were ongoing main projects that required more time but also smaller side projects such as graphic design, which brought nice variation to my work.
To conclude, this internship has given me relevant insights into the industry. For example, it has been very interesting to follow the process from my sketches to implementation with help from engingeers and the whole team. Unfortunately, my internship is now coming to an end here, and it’s time to move along towards my final year in Umeå with great memories in mind of working with the people at Toyota.