What were you like as a child?

I read a great book written by scientists on what they were like as a child and what their childhoods were like. Some had been interested very early in scientific explorations. Others wrote about what they remember as pivotal moments, or various people that influenced them. Some you could never have imagined they’d become scientists way back when.

So I wonder the same about industrial designers. Looking back, can you see earlier signs that you were destined to be a designer? What interests did you have as a child or a teen? Was it always obvious you were artistically or creatively talented? Would some who knew you back when be surprised by your professional choice now? When did you know you wanted to go down this path? Do you remember when you discovered this field and was it an aha moment for you?

I guess the most common answer will be ‘I always used to take things apart as a kid’… I didn’t. Didn’t really know I wanted to study industrial design until my final year of HS, I was torn between graphics and ID.

I remember when I was younger always wanting to make things look good and ‘professional’ and getting mad when people used Microsoft Word Art in their school projects lol…

So in the end I chose ID over graphics. Sketching was a big factor in it for me and also seeing your final outcome in 3D was a lot more exciting for me than it being on paper.

Yeah I always took stuff apart as a kid. If it was held together by screws and it was in my house, chances are I’ve taken it apart. I still take stuff apart to this day, whether to fix things or try to fix them.

I always made things as a kid. Played with Legos and Erector sets instead of GI Joes. Started using a computer at age 5 when a 10 meg hard drive was a luxury, learning CAD software by middle school, etc. When I applied to college I applied to most schools for mechanical engineering, then ended up going with ID. I figured ME was what you had to get a degree in if you wanted to “make stuff”. Glad I ended up where I am though.

Thanks for your replies. This is so interesting to read.

Always drawing and destroying things to see how it work and play allot of lego to make wierd things that could transform. And replicating toys with paper and cardboards.

Always drawing. Took a lot of stuff apart (like my Star Wars Imperial Walker… I had a few extra pieces when I put it back together.

Very precocious. Always asking questions about everything and ready to call out adults on any contradictions to answers. (not that popular with the nun’s in Catholic school with all those questions). I always wanted to know who invented things and how things were discovered (I still want to know how cheese was first discovered…)

when i was four i was reprimanded for telling other students that their work “was yucky”.
a design sno beven as a kid.

somewhere around 1989-92 i told my brother that i wanted a job where i sat around with other people and came up with ideas all day… he shot me down.

of course, always drawing and dissasembling and recombining my gi-joes to make them cooler and more functional.

I forgot about that… I remember I always thought the cobra vehicles were cooler and more futuristic, so at about 11 I spray painted several of navy blue cobra vehicles army green GI Joe color… I also ripped out all the seat in my 1/18 scale metal Burago models so my GI Joes could drive Ferraris while off duty, yup, awesome.

sweet, i did not even know about spray paint then.

all i did was take the screw out of there back and recombine the arms, legs, torsos and heads.

also hot melt glue gunning played a major part of building new vehicles.

As the first-born, I had to find ways to occupy myself. That’s what attracted me to open-ended play with blocks, lincoln-logs, erector-sets and legos.

I grew up around museums. My mom worked at one so I spent a lot of time literally climbing sculpture in the gardens. Later we lived near the Smithsonian…so cool. I graduated to Testors plastic model airplanes & cars, and David Mcauley (how things are made) books.

My father was friends with an architect who toured me through his projects and taught me how to make models out of matteboard at about age 13. This is also about the time that computer mice and rudimentary CAD (paint) came out, which I still love today. At that point I was convinced that I wanted to do that for a living.

I didn’t discover ID until about 17. I don’t remember the specific moment, but it was a combination of college fairs, a local ID firm and a corporate-designer family-friend. I guess creatives tend to attract each other!

taking stuff part, reading how stuff works and damaging my back/neck by making stuff with lego technic

The details of my life are quite inconsequential… very well, where do i begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum… it’s breathtaking- I highly suggest you try it.

When I wasn’t on my red-sparkle Schwinn (with banana seat) I was either playing with Legos or burning through reams and reams of paper sketching.

I literally have not stopped drawing since I learned how to hold a crayon. I don’t know how many times my teacher would call on me mid-sketch. I’d be so into my drawing, I’d be totally oblivious to what was happening in the classroom. That made for a lot of calls home & lots of comments on my report cards. I’m sure a lot of people here have had similar experiences!

always drawing, and making things! some highlights i remember from my childhood (through the rose colored glasses of retrospect)-

  1. playing with tons of legos, and sorting all the bricks by color and size into buckets for pre-assembly.

  2. trying to build a “johnny 5” robot from the movie short circuit with a record player motor and some scraps of wood (didnt work out so well. i electrocuted myself. bad idea to let kids play with 120V)

  3. model kits. everything from cars to tanks.

  4. making and modding rc cars. the real Tamyia ones, not radio shack crap. full driveshaft, oil filled shocks and wired my own led lights.

  5. countless haloween costumes from scratch. robots (dryer hoses, and led lights), army guys, etc.

best memory (think i maybe mentioned this in another post someplace…), was starting my own design consultancy when i was in grade 4. called "signs, design, pictures (SDP), i did custom font and graphics for party invites, and also got into some product. stuff like gluing a pencil sharpener onto a tape dispenser to create multifunction office/school supplier with painted on graphics. used the big profits ($0.50, whoohoo!) to buy more markers!

overall, like many IDers i assume, asked lots of questions, challenged everything and could easily keep myself happy making stuff or drawing for hours/days at a time!


PS. another good memory about questioning everything- was writing a book report in grade 4 or 5, and presented the hypothesis that the book was fact instead of fiction (clearly a kids fiction book about magic and stuff), because the teacher couldnt prove that it hadn’t happened ever or in another dimension! “but it COULD be fact!” i said…

One of my teachers would radomly walk around the room and just rip the top page off my notebook and throw it away… it was always a new “air wolf” sketch, or a “D” wing fighter, or a new Robocop or something…

Yeah, man, had to sort them first! My mom told me she would have to come up to my room every few hours on a Saturday to make sure I was still alive because I would be quietly making space scapes out of legos… (I loved the moon platforms)

ambitious even as a kid!

i grew up in detroit. my father was an automotive engineer, so i was around automobiles, prototypes, etc. at a very young age. we always went to the NAIAS. he had a small workshop in the basement and from a young age, i was making stuff, although poorly made. wood, metal scraps, whatever. i was always taking stuff apart, too. i took apart the doorbell to our home when i was like 9. i didn’t put it back together correctly so for the longest time, it would ding, but never dong. i had 2 5-gallonbuckets of legos, i would take me bike apart all the time, strip it down to the bearings then reassemble it. i had one of the radio shack circuit board with the springs on it so you could make rudimentary circuits that did various stuff.

i was good in school. i was very quiet and read a lot. if i wasn’t reading i was writing stories or poems or illustrating them. i stayed inside my own head quite a bit when i was young. i drew a LOT. just graphical stuff, or machinery. i didn’t know what industrial design was until i was about 21.

interesting post.

when I was 3 years old I had “flat feet”,so i had to wear orthopaedic footwear.It was terrible unconfortable,one day my mom gave me a present,one pair of running Adidas trainers.I was so impressed,after that my life became a footwear obsesion,i guess the destiny,I still loving footwear as a child that I was.

I loved styrofoam packaging - not the peanuts, but the intricately formed blown EPS that TV’s and such came packed in. It made great cities for Lego peeps, could be colored, glued together, etc.

During poster contest time, I was the guy to have on your group, until I got ahold of the big black marker and went psycho-graphic on the 24"x36".

yup, i remember always being picked for any project at school/camp that required some sort of poster/graphic artwork. funny thing was, i could never convince anyone to drop some important text for better leading/tracking…

also remember learning graphic design by hand copying library cards/ID/money etc. everyt detail including the bar codes and security background pattern. if i wasnt a designer i would surely be a master forger. reminds me of another good story i’ll keep for another time about being pulled over by a cop and accidently handing them a “modified” drivers license i made during a PS workshop in high school with access to a di/sub printer. got off with the fake license explaining it was an art piece all about the “juxaposition of contemporary culture with reference to…”. perhaps first intro to the magic of presentation BS!