The consistency of Sian O'Gorman's ardour for design and song have lead her far from her Auckland hometown to London, a dream job with the iconic Dr. Martens, and a key role in a highly successful contemporary choir - all via a University of Otago education she rates above all others.
Sian graduated from Otago in 2010 with a Bachelor of Consumer and Applied Science with First Class Honours in Design Studies, and a Bachelor of Music in Performance Voice.
A life-long singer, who greatly enjoyed her high school design experiences, Sian says she chose to study in Dunedin because, “Otago was the only place that offered the option to study these two degrees at the same time. All of my (London) friends and colleagues are so surprised that I studied two degrees at once – they don't have that opportunity over here.”
After graduation Sian swiftly put her qualifications into action.
An edited version of her Honours dissertation, 'Creative Ecologies: Flying Nun 1981 – 1987 Xpressway 1988 – 1993', has just been released by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in a book of design essays entitled 'The Design Collective. An Approach To Practice'.
She is also working as a Marketing Services Assistant within the Dr. Martens Global Marketing Team, helping coordinate and produce all in-house creative work.
“I am a communication designer, photographer, copywriter, film-editor, retail merchandiser, spatial designer – every day is different, challenging and highly rewarding!
“The skills I developed as part of the Design Studies programme are by far the most valuable parts of my entire education. Of all of these, the ability for design to function on a multi-disciplinary level has perhaps been the most important. It's what set me apart from all the other designers who applied for my job.”
Sian spends the majority of her spare time working with the London Contemporary Voices as its Artistic Co-ordinator.
“We function more as a band than a traditional choir,” Sian says. “The group is just two years old and is made up of soloists from various musical backgrounds.
“This year's highlights were definitely performing at the Reading Festival and with indie rock quartet Alt-J on the BBC's Later With Jools Holland. Coldplay even posted a song I had arranged on their blog, and we've been in talks with Bat For Lashes to do some work with her in 2013.
“In terms of the running of the choir - the development of an artistic concept from its early stages right through to its production and performance is a process that balances skills from both areas of my studies.”
Sian feels there is nowhere else in the world that you can dive into your studies and branch out into the local community so easily as in Dunedin – especially in the areas of music and design.
“It's easy for people to forget what an incredible music history Dunedin has and... the design heritage is also unique – I feel privileged to have been taught by experts in the field that are so passionate about the city and strive every day to improve areas of it through their own practice and education plans.”
Find out more about studying for an Honours Degree at Otago.