Alumnus Highlight—Chris Hagan

Meet Chris, an alumnus from the Class of 2020 | Aug 24, 2023

Quick Facts


Chris Hagan


New Zealand






Social Sciences


Brand Management


Can you describe the work you are doing now?

I am a designer at a small design studio called 1508 in Copenhagen. At any one time, we have 5-10 projects in the studio, and we work with a very diverse range of clients. Since I have been here I have worked with the energy and climate part of the Danish government, the largest pharmaceutical company in Scandinavia, and a small, 50-employee construction and architecture company. I am a digital product designer, so I mainly work on apps and websites, as well as some more traditional graphic design, developing brand identities and physical products.

What is a post-graduation project you have worked on that you are most proud of?

I worked with the Danish Energy Agency as my first project at 1508, helping to rebuild their entire digital universe. It was a complex time to be doing this work, as the energy crisis was just kicking off, and so the work took on an elevated level of importance in Denmark. It was an exercise in translation—turning complicated information into something simple, digestible, and (in the best case) actionable.

What part of your Minerva experience most significantly informed your current perspective on the world and the way you approach what you are working on?

Living in seven cities in four years teaches you that the world is a chaotic and often overwhelming place. An antidote to this chaos, I have learned, is intentionality. I think that’s why design is endlessly fascinating to me. By slowing down and thinking carefully, you can build products and services that offer pockets of calm, joy, or simplicity, against the backdrop of chaos.

What are some learnings from your Minerva classes that you find yourself applying to your life or work now?

The first-year Complex Systems course has provided a foundation for a lot of the work I do these days, which often involves blending design and futures thinking. Futures thinking, a strategic design approach that takes into account what is likely to change and what is likely to remain constant in the future, is built upon the acknowledgment that we live in a world made up of complex systems. Elements of the first-year course still prove relevant in my thinking today, informing more creative, and sometimes more skeptical predictions.

Can you talk me through your Capstone project? In what ways do you think your Capstone work informs what you are doing now?

For my Capstone project, I created “The Systems Thinking and Circular Design Handbook”. I aimed to answer the question “If we view the world as a series of interacting systems, could we design products that work better and last longer, because they are made to fit these systems, rather than an imagined static version of the world?”. Now, I use systems thinking and principles of circular design every day, in my design work at 1508 (just without the needlessly complicated terminology).

How does your Minerva education make you uniquely prepared for post-graduate life?

By far the biggest takeaway is my ability to adapt quickly and gracefully. The sheer volume of big life changes you accumulate during four years at Minerva builds a resilience and “land on your feet” mentality that I think is incredibly valuable in the modern world.

Were there any Minerva experiences that inspired you to pursue this job?

Living in different places, design became a common language through which I see the world. Even from a passive place, just observing the world around me, I loved exploring what design meant in different cities. That could be in visiting design museums, admiring architecture on commutes through the city, or appreciating the packaging on a 7/11 gimbap, it all imbued me with a sense of respect for the work of designers, and a desire to become one someday down the line.

If you were inspired by Chris' story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.