Viviana takes on new challenges in Japan

On 2 March, a consultant from Toyota Motor came to the Swedish School of Textiles to look at the portfolios of the students studying textile design to see if they were suited for a position at the company. Previous years, Toyota offered internships for nine weeks during the summer, which in some cases led to jobs. But this time, it turned out they would offer a three-year contract on the spot. The consultant travelled around Europe and America to handpick candidates from several design schools in the world.

The purpose is that the candidate should function as an “eye opener” for the current in-house designers at Toyota Motor. This time they offered the position to our student: Viviana Hohenstein.

Presentation of her portfolio

All textile design students, both bachelor and master level, had the opportunity to sign up for a presentation. Four students from the bachelor programme and three students from the master programme chose to present their portfolios. The presentations took 5-10 minutes each and took place in private with the consultant. Those who wanted could bring teacher Tonje Kristensen Johnstone with them.

“We were all very nervous, and we sat waiting together. I was the last one, and I was so nervous. If you wanted to, you could bring Tonje, so I did. It took some of the pressure off to have her there”, Viviana says.

What did you show from your portfolio?

“I wanted to show them the broadness of my work, both in terms of technique and colour. I focused on what I thought would be of interest for the company. I wanted to show them that you can find something new in something old. I also showed them samples. All projects had their own samples, so he could see and touch the fabrics and the materials, and at the same time he could read about the project. After the presentation, he took with him a digital portfolio from all the candidates”, says Viviana.

She continues:

”After the presentations, we shared a meal at The Company. He wanted to see us in a social context, which was good because it gave us a chance to ask him questions.”

Moving to Japan

Viviana starts her job with a one-year contract, starting in September. After graduating this spring, she will attach her diploma to her Visa application.

How does it feel, having been offered the position?

”It feels so amazing. I didn’t think I’d have a chance, or, of course I had a chance since I presented my portfolio, but I really didn’t think it was going to happen”, Viviana says.

She continues:

”I’m a bit nervous about moving. It’s going to be completely new. I’m from Germany. I’ve lived in Austria and now I live in Sweden, but I’ve never lived outside of Europe. It’s going to be so exciting.”

What will you do at Toyota Motor?

“I don’t know yet, but I’ll be at a design department, working with interior. I spoke to the woman who travelled last time. She’s home again, and she told me that she had been at two departments. First, she was at one department during her internship and then at another department with an affiliate during her employment”, Viviana explains.

What are you looking forward to the most?

“Moving! It’s going to be a new challenge and I need that. It’s going to be so exciting learning a new culture, working with the things I’ve been studying for years.”

Has your education prepared you for this?

”Yes, I think so. I had an internship at a design company in Germany, and I could use all the things I’ve learnt there. My education has been completely amazing. Now I’m very into Japan. It’s going to be so much fun. But I think it won’t realise it until I’m on the plane, that I’ll actually live and work there. It’s going to be a challenge, but think about it: finishing your studies and directly get this opportunity!”

The teachers are so proud that Viviana was offered the position. Tonje Kristensen Johnstone says:

“All teachers at the textile design programme are so proud and thrilled that Toyota Motor offered Viviana a design position at their company. The Swedish School of Textiles is one of the few schools in Europe that they chose to visit, and this is clear proof of how good our programme is. Viviana is a strong candidate with the unique blend of designing competence in combination with textile techniques.

Text and photo: Josefine Bjuvefors