Enlarge your capacities!

I wonder what you guys do to enlarge your capacities as a designer. Below a list to start with, additions would be interesting.

  • School
  • Job
  • Forums
  • Magazines
  • Contests

I think this concerns everyone of us…

Interesting question.

Here are some activities that constantly help me expand and refine my skills:

Teaching /presenting to students
Training others in the workplace
Attending design conferences and events
Reading books about business, marketing and psychology (not design)
Writing articles

Most of the above concern taking myself away from the comfort zone of ‘just designing’. I find you need to get a distance from your own work to really be able to see it clearly.

During the past year I realized that the theoretical material-knowledge gathered as a product design student would not be sufficient for me. Therefore I’d like to experience the production side as well.

My dilemma is; which material to go for? I did visit an interesting metal workshop where they made limited edition pieces and artworks. Other people advised cabinet-making… And then I haven’t even mentioned ceramics, glass, plastic, fibers, natural materials, … Of course it all depends on what I want to do later, but let’s say I want to keep most options open.

Are there places where I could experience a bit of every material? If not, what would you recommend? And then finally; where could I find these (London-based) companies?


Good questions. Things I feel help me:

Tours. Getting tours of different companies and design firms offices. This can be hard but if you go to conferences and network, you can make friends and offer to trade tours with people. People generally seem to like this.

Lunch. Have lunch with people you don’t work with. Again, depends on networking, but I try to have lunch with someone I don’t work with at least once a week. Usually from design firms or other companies in town. You learn a lot… mostly that all of us have the same problems for the most part. It’s great just to talk to other designers, here on core77, over diner, whatever.

Competitions. An easy way to design things you are not assigned. I think designing things you don’t HAVE to is key. You get to have fun and experiment like a student. I always learn something I can an apply to regular projects.

Teach. The students will question you, which makes you question yourself. Always good.

Be uncomfortable. Stay out of your comfort zone. Force yourself to do things in different ways.

Read. I read a lot of fiction, Paul seems to like the non-fiction, but exercise your brain.

Party. Throw parties, go to parties, whatever. Always seems to help me a bit… use in moderation… I like to have diner parties and invite a few designers, and a few non designers. It’s always been fun so far.

Work out. Few things clear my mind better.

Travel. Important to get ingredients outside of your bubble. I like to stop in and see ID schools when I travel to talk to some students (but I’m a nerd). I also like to get in Museums, architecture tours, great food/wine, and some sitting by the pool…

i also like to see manufacturing. I get to do quite a bit of that for work. Always very inspiring to talk to the people on the production lines.

extenz of course :laughing:

Thanks for the extensive advice yo!
I’m not the best networker though, I tend to take things as they come.

By the way, I found the solution to my material-dilemma; model making.
Can somebody recommend me a model makers-directory for London/England/UK? The only one I know about is http://www.jobsandproperty.co.uk/london/model_makers/.
Maybe also a book (Model-Making: Materials and Methods by David Neat ?), some websites, a forum, …