An eye for success

For alumna Tor Robinson, a design degree meant the opportunity to create the things that influence people’s lives.

Tor Robinson sitting in front of her work station

“I chose to study design because I’ve always loved being creative, and the thought of designing things that influence how people live their lives was really exciting to me,” Tor says. “I also loved the idea of studying at the School of Design Innovation campus, which is right amongst everything on Cuba Street in Wellington, which I’ve always enjoyed and found to be really vibrant and unique.”

Tor completed both a Bachelor and Master of Design Innovation before going on to a job in the 3D modelling department at Weta Workshop.

“My degrees and time at the University gave me the confidence and tools to solve problems and approach them from a variety of perspectives,” Tor says. “The lecturers helped me build really valuable connections, and the School gave me access to new and exciting design technology, like 3D printing. In my first year I barely knew about 3D printing, but by the end of my studies it was one of the core tools I was using to express myself.”

Tor says her teachers and peers constantly made her feel motivated to make new and unique things that could potentially change the world in their own little ways, and taught her how to use different design philosophies to approach different problems.

“They made me feel that no challenge was too great, and that the journey to overcome those challenges was just as important as the final product,” Tor says.

Tor’s current work involves using innovative 3D printing techniques to create giant eyes, which can be seen on the giant models Weta Workshop makes for exhibitions. Similar eyes appeared in the Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibition, although Tor is working on new 3D printing techniques to create even more realistic eyes, as well as other body parts like skin or scales.

“I love being part of such a unique group who all have their own special skills to offer a project. It feels so special to be able to make things that I could never achieve all alone. All the challenges we face are so cool and weird and different, and overcoming them makes it so satisfying to send a project out into the world.”

Tor loves being part of telling stories and helping people escape into other worlds through her work.

“I want to keep telling stories,” Tor says. “I also want to constantly keep learning—there are always new things to discover, and nowadays software and technology are changing so fast.”

If Tor has one piece of advice for current students, it’s this:

“Enjoy yourself!” she says. “Use each course and assignment to discover what you care about and make things you’re proud of. Also make sure you get enough sleep!”