Industrial Design and Relationships

I’m not sure if this is the appropriate place for this topic, but it is directly related to design employment.

It seems to me that it is a designer’s nature to bounce around jobs every few years until finding the job that “fits.” My question is, how does this affect your personal relationships? Being a recent (27 year old) graduate, I am engaged and my fiance isn’t too keen on bouncing around too much. I would love to stay in central Ohio, but there are only a handful of options here. How do your wives/husbands/spouses/significant others handle this? How do you make it work?

Every partnership has its own unique arrangements, and those arrangements are ever shifting. My partner and I both like to travel and we like adventures. My career is more site specific and hers is more portable so we decided long ago to go were my career takes us, as long as the locations are also beneficial to her career. That is our arrangement, and it works for us though it is not without stress.

We;ve been together 14 years. We both started in Providence and then she worked in New Hampshire and then Boston while I was still in Providence. Then I moved to Connecticut and she moved to Chicago. We were both in Connecticut for 3 years then we moved to Portland, Oregon which we both loved. That job brought us to Boston for another few years. We both decided we were done with Boston and I explored positions back in Portland, as well as Detroit, the mid-West, Seattle, and San Fran. San Fran ended up being the optimal place for both of us right now…

At some point, I assume will will lay down some more permanent roots. We’d like to live in Europe for a time first, and maybe a few other places as well. Got to do it while your young(ish) in my opinion. There is plenty of time for mortgages later. At this point we are valuing experiences over things, though it took us a bit to figure out that is what I liked.

My advice would be to talk it out. When we have gotten into trouble (nothing is easy, there are always rough times) is when we neglected that simple task of sharing and communicating where we saw things going. I was very clear with Kristina what my vision for my life would be early on, as she was with me. Of course that vision has adjusted with time, but because we are always talking through what is important to each of us we find ways to make it work.

I’m not sure if that is more personal than you were looking for. Just know that figuring this stuff out is not easy, but rewarding.

Michael, that was exactly the type of response I’m aiming for in this topic… open, honest responses. I appreciate your input.

Essentially, she is trying to develop a career of her own (perhaps grad school). Neither of us wants to give up our own ambitions, but we also don’t want the other to either. We also don’t want to give eachother up. I suppose I could look at this as a design challenge.

It definitely requires some creative problem solving! When Detroit was in the picture, the only way Kristina wold even consider it is if she got to go to grad school at Cranbrook. That is what made that a viable option… finding that common ground is essential.

It’s definitely a tough one, I’m going through the same thing now. You have to weigh out the pros and cons of each possibility and whether the consequences are worth certain potential rewards. Be open and honest. You may find that you can find a way for both of you to get what you want, or you may find out that this is where your paths split because you want things that are in different directions from the other. Talk it out, get all of the options in the open. Just make sure you remember that you have a life also. If someone ends up neglecting their path just to make the other happy, it can lead to further issues down the line so be careful. Make sure you both can get a win/win.

My take on the subject:

First of all it’s not easy being married/in a relation with an industrial designer. Especially if he/she is a motivated passionate one.
We don’t have a 9-to-5 job. I take my work with me if I want to or not.( I don’t get to direct when I’ll have an idea)…So it does happen that I’ll jump up in the middle of a movie take a piece of paper and start scribbling and my wife doesn’t see or hear me for the rest of the evening :wink: It happens a lot…since I get most of my ideas while not thinking about an assignment. I also tend to comment into (the absurd) on products and the way our society/economy works. It’s a disease actually…a curse and a blessing at the same time.
Luckily my wife accepts me as I am. Meaning she can get frustrated of my behavior but it is also this passionate desire to change things that made her fall in love with me (and some other stuff off course). The only downside is that I will never be able to move to the States for a job since my wife is a social worker (she helps asylum-seekers) a concept not know in the States. I’d love to work some years in SF since I/we truly love the city…but that ain’t going to happen. I guess you got to life with the choices you make :wink:



In 1981 my wife and I wanted to purchase a house. We were both employed, me as a designer in the motorcycle industry, my wife as Manager in the Auto Club of Southern California. We looked pretty good “on paper” but didn’t have the down payment, and no relatives to help us out.

The most amazing thing happened; the Realtor deposited $20K in my checking account so that when the mortgage company performed their due diligence they would see that we were “qualified” buyers. A month later I returned the “loan”. And we had our first house.

But a month after that my employer, of five years, unexpectedly announced the closure of our West Coast plant, and the transfer of all R&D employees back to our Illinois facility. At least that’s what they thought was going to happen; not a single manager, supervisor, or staff designer took their offer to “go home” (can you say Rantoul, Illinois in January?) And I was out of a job.

After only two months as home-owners we had literally no equity in our home, but my wife was still employed, so what were we to do? Pull up stakes so I could follow a lead with Harley-Davidson (and my wife forfeit her career goals) and lose the opportunity to own our own home (the American Dream)? Or stay put, bank on Suzanne’s income while I tried to conjure up some kind of design-related employment based on my skills as an Industrial Designer, and keep our house, but forfeit my “industrial design” career goals…

Who da ya love baby… … . ?

It isn’t about work. It’s about life and…

I guess you got to life (sic) with the choices you make

Twenty-nine years later we’re still here, but in the third house.

So you were at Vetter?

I’ve relocated to a new city/ country 13 times, and I’m 26. I’d say it has affected my view of relationships and how I put myself into them. On a positive side, I am always open to whatever; I could be told to move to Hong Kong tomorrow and be totally fine with it. You just cut and run, but with everything online now it is very easy to stay in touch with people.

Not much else there at the time, except Radco windows, and the United States Air Force … :wink:

As Mike has stated it’s a long and deep conversation you need to have with your SO. I had that conversation with my wife before we got married and she’s held true to her word and moved with me when it made sense for us AND my career. I’m on my third move and it’s become significantly more difficult for her this time around. She’s in a place she loves ( I do too) and around things that make her happy. Relocation for your significant other involves a lot of unknown variables for them that are often not pleasant (job search, etc.) and forced upon them. Does it make sense for you in your stage of career? More importantly, does this relocation improve the lifestyle for BOTH parties involved? If you can’t answer yes to both of those questions I wouldn’t risk losing your SO.

The most I can ask of my wife is that she be willing to consider the possibility of relocation. If I get the thumbs up, then it’s gravy. If not, I have to put off the opportunity and wait til something else comes along. It’s a very tough thing to ask of your SO and expect their views to change as you grow in your relationship. She may agree to it now. But when the moving truck pulls up, she may have different thoughts.

Like LMO suggested, it really does come down to who/what do you love.

I have been lucky with this. Both my wife and I grew up in families where we had to move around because of our fathers jobs. she has also been with me in the ups of my career (current role) and the downs of my career when I was unemployed for a year. She knows that things are tough for us as designers and we need to go where the jobs are. We have had the talk about relocation many times and she is all for it. She does HR for a living so she says that she can get a job anywhere. Now I know this is not entirely true and before I even apply for other opportunities I ask her if she is up for living in the area of the job. Most of the time that answer is yes, but sometimes it is no. You have to keep constant communication and keep each other in mind. This not only is true for this decision but for everything you do when you are married.

Justin, you bring up a good point that you discuss things before you even apply to a position. I do the same, not only for the relocation, but also for the perspective. no one knows me better than she does, and if she doesn’t think the position will be a fit for me, chances are… it’s all about partnership.

Interesting thread.

Currently my wife an I are attempting to move, but not for career sake. We’re hoping to move closer to our families so that our kid(s) can enjoy their relatives a bit more frequently. Over the last year and a half, family has become much more important to me than career goals.

Having said that, communication is critical to both your success in relationships and in your career. Partnership, compromise, trust, all good things to have.

Over the last year and a half, family has become much more important to me than career goals.

It’s all about family, it’s all about family, it’s all about family, it’s all about family … we just don’t realize it until later.

Hopefully, not too late.

Sometimes it’s about the family you make fromstrong friendships. I have the rare occurance where outside of my wife, my little brother is my best friend. He moved to Portland in part to be closer to me, I moved to Boston and now San Fran! But I try to make up for this by having brother time, when I fly him out to me or I fly to him and we can just chill. I also have a small army of good friends who I have adopted as my bog brothers. Designers 5-10 years older than me who took the time to school me over the years. I would do anything for those guys and vice versa.

Off topic I know, sorry. What I’m getting at is that it is important to tale time to value your relationships. Relationships are like a bank account, you have to make regular And meaningful deposits if you want to see them grow. If you don’t you run the risk of being overdrawn!

This is like designer group therapy in here, fitting as most of us are better with objects than people.

I like the way this thread is going…

Design is tough in this way, because there are so many good skills to learn, projects to do, creative inspirations to follow… then there is the realities of having work, competition, and paying your way. It’s demanding, and takes time away from relationships.

I can’t say I have the balance sorted, but taking time off to spend with important people is definitely more a priority now than when I was younger

…taking time off to spend with important people is definitely more a priority now than when I was younger

It’s like when we were children. Time moved at a snail-like pace; the school day was interminably long, Saturdays took forever to get here, summer vacation was impossibly far off, Thanksgiving, Christmas were almost out of mind.

I’m in sixth grade, I’ll be in Junior High School for three years!? When will I be old enough to get a summer job. And then three more years of High School??! Wait 'till I get my drivers license. Four years of college!!! 21 years of age doesn’t come soon enough…

And now? Memorial Day is already behind us, 4th of July is 31 days ahead of us, and Thanksgiving will feel like two weeks from now. What, it’s Christmas season again, etc., etc.

It’s like I want to drag my foot on the ground to slow down time… …

Pretty tough one. Balancing relationships and design. My GF is an occupational therapist. Makes boatloads of money (much more than me) and can work just about anywhere. At the moment, she loves living in Asheville, NC, which is an epicenter of healthy living, yippie fundamentals and scenic mountains. It’s a cool place, but…

I need a job. And industrial design is a very “rock-star” profession in that it’s not like you can just find your dream-job in any town in the country. That’s far from the case. So, my options are quite limited. We’ve thought about central California (Santa Cruz, to be specific) and other areas of the west-coast.

I guess what it comes down to is realizing that I’m happy with her. And I am. At the same time, I have a career that is VERY specific, thus limiting. I won’t give her up because of a job. I just won’t do it. But finding a happy medium will be difficult. I guess that is just the case with designers.