Archive for April, 2009

Perfecting Your Craft

perfectingI thought this was a great video! I was totally blown away by how well this guy, Danny, rides a bike! I ride, we all do, but I would never even try to ride across a fence. He probably has some natural talent, but I’m sure he has spent more time riding then we have. Along with that he’s probably fallen off a bike more then all of us combined. Then I thought about design, and how this applies. Your abilities may stand out to non designers, because of the extra time you’ve dedicated to sketching, modeling, and problem solving, but what makes your work standout among other designers or even designs? Simple, it’s how well you ride the bike. Just like the video, you need a little natural talent, and a whole lot of time “riding.” Don’t forget the failures either (you can’t be afraid to fail). People will watch you try different solutions and designs, maybe even laugh, but when you succeed you’ll look like a genius. The reason why, because you’re willing to try things others won’t, and due to the amount of time you put in you’ll find the solution.

  1.  A little natural talent
  2. Amazing courage
  3. Hours, and hours of “riding”
  4. Persistence after failure

              = Perfected Craft


I.D. Spotlight: Marc Newson

marcnewsonHere’s another I.D. Spotlight for your enjoyment. This one features Marc Newson and a great series of videos from the BBC. I know it’s a little long, each one is 10 minutes for a grand total of 50, but well worth the time if you haven’t already seen it. If you don’t have the time, at least check out the first.


Free Autodesk Training


I was impressed to find Autodesk offering free training and software for those designers who have lost their jobs recently. What a great idea. More companies should implement this. They’re helping the economy while building their customer base. Everyone wins.

Anyways, thought I’d share.

Click here to visit the site.


Land Your ID Job

I recently had a fellow design friend ask me what he could do, while in school, that could help land an I.D. job. I had a couple ideas, and thought this would make a great post. This is not meant to be a sure formula and guarantee for hire, just my opinion on what may help.

To me there are 5 main areas:

1.Great sketching (not necessarily #1, but somewhere at the top)

2.Awesome model building (with company specific software)

3.Inspiring presentations (that tells a story about the product – more importantly about your abilities)

4.Offer something unique (this could be a skill, the way you solve problems, or something else) 

5.Well-established industry relationships


1Great sketching will always play a major role in your job opportunities. An I.D-er is responsible for finding product design solutions and communicating them to the customer/employer. Sketch quality is directly related to inspiring project teams with confidence to invest. The inspiration can come from style and clarity. While in school competition to be the #1 artist is stiff. It’s important to always benchmark your work, be honest with yourself and ask “Where does my work rank?” You should not only do this with your immediate classmates, but with students from other schools. Aim for #1, but know that there will always be someone better. That’s not meant to be negative, just a statement to keep you humble and always looking to learn.


2Awesome model building is especially important in today’s economy. With every company reducing headcount, the demand for multi-faceted/cross-trained employees grows. Naturally with workers doing more then before there’s less time to train. Students that come out of school with high-level training in all company used software increases their chances 10 fold. They have become “soldiers ready for battle.”


3An inspiring presentation is your ability to tell stories and sell ideas. While in school this becomes a double edge sword, because it also describes your skills as a designer. I’m sure you’ve heard before, that your presentations should speak for themselves. The story should be clear and visible with or without your presence. I’d like to add, that your abilities as a designer are very clear and present in every presentation you create, so ask yourself what messages are you sending about yourself?


4Offering something unique is self explanatory, yet probably one of the most important areas. At this moment there are fewer jobs being offered, yet the same amount (if not more) students looking for jobs. How are you going to set yourself apart from them? How will you become memorable after being the 50th interviewee?


5Well-established industry relationships build easy to cross bridges. In a way it’s a lot like marriage, would you marry someone you didn’t know? Of course not. Why would a company hire some one they don’t know? Sure this happens, but they risk a lot. I would look now for opportunities to start conversations with prospect companies, even if this is your first year. Ask for job insights, share your work, and invite critiques. When the time comes to interview you’ll have allies and referrals, people willing to put their reputation on the line to recommend you.


I hope this gives a little help to those in school currently or even those looking for jobs now. Of course I’d love to hear insight you may have.




Unveiling the “Sixth Sense”

pattie-maesIf you’re not familiar with I highly suggest you check it out. This is an amazing site that brings together thought leaders from around the world to discuss ideas and theories about anything. I’m always impressed with each video I watch. If you haven’t seen this particular video, it’s worth the 9 mins. Pattie Maes talks about creating a “6th sense” through enabling easy interactive access to the vast amounts of knowledge streaming through the web. Minority Report was futuristic, but this is beyond… it’s portable!

To me, this brings new light to the ID world by changing our interaction with everyday objects. How does this change the way you see I.D. in the future? 


Designing Visual Cues

push-pullIf you’ve been in product design for a while you’re probably very familiar with the concept of visual cues. If not, I thought I’d take a moment to explain.

In a nutshell, visual cues are elements of a design that communicate its purpose and method of use. Common cues have developed over time out of repetitive use, natural association with other cues, and common sense (or the minds natural processes).

These cues are vital to the success of a product. If a person is confused by the cues he/she is left to read pages of instructions. If the cues are wrong he/she will feel betrayed and put-off. If they are obvious, descriptive, and accurate the individual will enjoy their natural like experience.

Have you ever entered a public building and pushed on a door, then realize after your face smacks the glass you were suppose to pull? Usually, you feel kind of dumb and look around to make sure no one noticed, but most likely this could have been a result of poor cues. This happened to me recently, going into Office Max. The first set of doors had a large flat area, perfect for pushing, yet it was meant to pull. The second set had the exact same handle, yet it was a push. Sure, I could have read the large print which described the appropriate action, but my point still stands. Better visual cues = better customer experience.

I’m interested in your experiences, what have you done to design better descriptive cues?


I.D. Spotlight: Philippe Patrick Starck

philippe_starckThis week I wanted to spotlight Philippe Starck. Sorry for picking another well know designer, I promise to mix it up in the future. Again I just ripped off Wikipedia, but do a little search on him yourself. I’m sure you’ll find some things you didn’t know. For me I found some products I didn’t know he influenced, and realized I completely disagree with his thoughts on evolution and feelings toward “God being a trap.” At any rate, I still appreciate his contribution to our industry.

Philippe Patrick Starck (born January 18, 1949, Paris) is a French Product designer and probably the best known designer in the New Design style. His designs range from spectacular interior designs to mass produced consumer goods such as toothbrushes, chairs, and even houses.

He was educated in Paris at École Nissim de Camondo and in 1968, he founded his first design firm, which specialized in inflatable objects. In 1969, he became art director of his firm along with Pierre Cardin.

Starck’s career started to climb in earnest in 1982 when he designed the interior for the private apartments of the French President François Mitterrand.

Starck has worked independently as an interior designer and as a product designer since 1975. Most notably, in 2002, he created a number of relatively inexpensive product designs for the large American retailer Target Stores.

His most recent notable designs include an optical mouse for Microsoft, yachts, and even new packaging for a beer company. He was commissioned to design the Virgin Galactic “spaceport” in New Mexico (Foster and Partners are its architects).

He made the exihibt Democratic Ecology with Pramac.

Unlike most other New Design artists, Starck’s work does not concentrate on the creation of provocative and expensive single pieces. Instead, his product designs are of usable household items which Starck himself helps to market for mass production. His products and furnishings are often stylized, streamlined and organic in their look and are also constructed using unusual combinations of materials (such as glass and stone, plastic and aluminum, plush fabric and chrome, etc.).

-info and photo from wikipedia


Some websites of interest regarding Philippe…



From the Side Table


I’m sure most of you have your own side projects. It’s always good to have some going. I sometimes use them as therapy. When you constantly design for clients, customers, managers, and more, it can be a great outlet for personal creativity. You can be the sole contributor and critic. This week I gathered all my random napkin sketches and found a common theme: chairs, furniture, and such, nothing revolutionary just having some fun. Thought I might build a few in AutoStudio, stay tuned.

Do you ever find yourself needing a design outlet? If so, what do you use to creatively “vent?”