How many of you know exactly what you want to design?

Did you know when you graduated or did you discovered it later in your career?
Or Did you just go with the flow since the beginning?
Do you prefer to design a variety of products or do you like to be in specific areas such as toy, sneaker, gadgets, housewares, automotive, structural packaging, P.O.P, etc,.?

I do not feel strongly in any area. I was more inclined to electronics earlier in my career but not so much now.

What kind of work are you doing now Aubz?

I’ve always wanted to do a bit of everything, but have had more passion for projects that are tied to culture and daily use, and purchased directly by their user. Sounds vague I know. I’ve also wanted to understand how design works in corporations and different kinds of consulting groups so I’ve shaped my career to explore those things in a way in which I could go deep in something for awhile, but not limit my next move. It takes a lot of effort to manage that path, and having a clear vision for myself in the next 20+ years has helped that. The vision has adjusted and crystalized over the past 15 years, but having a long term goal helps the short term decisions make themselves.

I never really knew.

Out of school, I was dead set on consumer product stuff and applied to corporate (Nokia, Philips, etc.) as well as consultancies (Frog, IDEO, etc.). I heard about a position from a former schoolmate a year ahead that they were hiring a footwear designer. I applied as I always liked shoes (have strong memories searching out a pair of AJ5’s and cleaning them with a toothbrush at camp), but never even considered footwear as a path. Sketched my first shoes the night before the interview. Got the job and never looked back.

Since then, I’ve crafted my own path in various corporate environments, defining my own role, taking on strategy, marketing, graphics, development, etc. Started my own consultancy 4 years ago. Never looked back.

I’d never remove the possibility of doing something else other than footwear, but for the most part I know what I know and don’t want to throw away 10+ years of technical expertise. Plus I see so much bland consumer product design out there that I don’t want to be a part of. Currently I enjoy what I’m doing crafting brands and stories and products together and while it’s difficult, it’s a hard sell to go elsewhere. That plus keeping things balanced with lecturing, mentoring and design advocacy roles, I feel I’m pretty well fulfilled.

R

[quote=“yo”]What kind of work are you doing now Aubz?

I’ve always wanted to do a bit of everything, but have had more passion for projects that are tied to culture and daily use, and purchased directly by their user. Sounds vague I know. I’ve also wanted to understand how design works in corporations and different kinds of consulting groups so I’ve shaped my career to explore those things in a way in which I could go deep in something for awhile, but not limit my next move. It takes a lot of effort to manage that path, and having a clear vision for myself in the next 20+ years has helped that. The vision has adjusted and crystalized over the past 15 years, but having a long term goal helps the short term decisions make themselves.[/quote]

Right now I am doing fulltime freelance P.O.P and last fall I was doing that and structural packaging design engineering. I always felt I wanted to do everything such as you and that is why I freelance to stay flexible. I never really designed on my own except for competitions; some of which I won something. I did design my own product I was trying and still in the process of patenting but I put that on hold years ago. I just do not have a burning desire to design one thing/area then actually doing it and perusing a career out of it.

[quote=“rkuchinsky”]I never really knew.

Out of school, I was dead set on consumer product stuff and applied to corporate (Nokia, Philips, etc.) as well as consultancies (Frog, IDEO, etc.). I heard about a position from a former schoolmate a year ahead that they were hiring a footwear designer. I applied as I always liked shoes (have strong memories searching out a pair of AJ5’s and cleaning them with a toothbrush at camp), but never even considered footwear as a path. Sketched my first shoes the night before the interview. Got the job and never looked back.

Since then, I’ve crafted my own path in various corporate environments, defining my own role, taking on strategy, marketing, graphics, development, etc. Started my own consultancy 4 years ago. Never looked back.

I’d never remove the possibility of doing something else other than footwear, but for the most part I know what I know and don’t want to throw away 10+ years of technical expertise. Plus I see so much bland consumer product design out there that I don’t want to be a part of. Currently I enjoy what I’m doing crafting brands and stories and products together and while it’s difficult, it’s a hard sell to go elsewhere. That plus keeping things balanced with lecturing, mentoring and design advocacy roles, I feel I’m pretty well fulfilled.

R[/quote]

thanks or sharing that.
I understand what you are saying about tough sell.

This could be a fun post. I’m looking forward to reading the responses!

I’ve always had an interest in lifestyle driven products. It is so nice to design things that people will be calling “theirs.” I love the extra pressure I feel when designing these types of products. I want to design the thing that someone somewhere will identify with, become connected to, and never want to replace. With this pressure I notice myself really swearing the details.

I’m currently designing watches and headphones for Nixon. I can honestly say I’m doing everything I can to make pieces consumers will connect with. It’s a great feeling.

That being said, I have always been drawn to footwear design, but I’m scared to death I will not get the satisfaction of having those ah-ha moments when designing a product like headphones. For example, it is so nice to figure out a mechanism that achieves the right amount of articulation and solves the problem in a simple way. I love fussing over connection points, stepping away with a walk around the block, then coming back only to feel as though I need to step away and clear my head yet again!

I’ve circled the question a bit, but to answer it shortly I would say that at some point I would love to do footwear then lever edge that into lifestyle apparel. Jackets, high end shoes, bags. I think understanding the craftsmanship behind high-end cut and sew products would be amazing. I’m just scared to leave behind the tinkering and problem solving of hard goods.

Sorry so long. I think it was good for me to try to articulate my thoughts. I’ve been thinking about this stuff so much lately, so thanks for the post.

D

In high school there was no doubt, I wanted to design Ferraris at Pininfarina. Then, I took a semester of automobile design.

With a strong family history in healthcare, there was a strong push for me to become a physician. But I find the inside and most of the outside of the human body to be disgusting. In small doses though, not so bad. That, coupled with the benefit of pretty much an endless opportunity to learn and discover, led me to the device industry. Within the device industry, I have done everything imaginable; electronics, large housings, small housings, mechanical design, human factors, soft goods, IDx, packaging, exhibits, branding, advertising, support materials. You name it, its all in medical devices.

School had no support for medical design. I had to go out and find the contacts, my professors were worthless. It was also very difficult reconciling the differences between the medical professionals and my professors. Many times their input was completely contrary to each other. But only one time did that directly effect a grade I received. I still hold a grudge to this day.

I do get the occasional consumer product but there I worry about getting stuck in a niche so I never actively look for those projects.

Man, for some reason that last sentence really hit me. I never really looked at soft vs. hard goods like that before…You just schooled me for a bit there.

That being said, there’s still quite a bit of problem solving in soft goods, but I think the result just shifts a little. Instead of working through a mechanism, you’re working through the story a bit more. How does this shoe, bag, jacket, etc relate to the end user and does that interaction feel powerful/impactful? I suppose you could make the argument that all products should hit that mark, but for me, softgoods is a more intimate experience for the user.

Anyway, good thoughts, David. Definitely got me thinkging.

Instead of working through a mechanism, you’re working through the story a bit more. How does this shoe, bag, jacket, etc relate to the end user and does that interaction feel powerful/impactful?

I agree their are still problems to solve in soft goods, I’m just not sure what they are and if they could take the place (for me) of solving for solving the “heavy duty stuff.”

Also, I think the problem you’ve pointed out is problem 1 of ANY design challenge. I go through this thinking everyday. Wrestling relevance and intangibles is something I feel I’m doing hourly.

Sorry if we’ve gone off topic a bit. Thanks for your interest Jacob.

D.

Short answer: no not really.
Longer answer: Its worth thinking about and recalibrating expectations.
I think what got me into design was being really into art, and drawing, and animation especially anime. I always thought robots and Expert Builder Lego and mechanisms were cool. I was also really into SFX and what’s now entertainment design. Then at about the time I started college, I became interested in bicycles, and had an opportunity to create some nice products in that area. When I was interviewing for my current job, I replied that big fitness products were about the closest thing there was to designing big metal robots that humans can drive. I think for my next job, I’d like to go even ‘bigger’ into environments, installations, things with permanence. Projects like Calatrava’s museums and bridges, or new airports or train stations make me insanely excited. I know those are architectural projects but I’d like to be involved in some subset of that.

I do still <3 bikes though.