In the British education system Craft, Design and Technology (CDT) is part of the curriculum, it’s the stuff you have to at least try at an early age and it introduces children to 3D creation. The brit education system was designed around delivering a tall “T” where children dove in deep and specialized early – with a large degree of focus by the age of 16. The Jony Ive book makes reference to this as his father was a CDT teacher.
From early on, the idea of addressing a need was drilled into us, and the empathetic aspect is what hooked me on design. When I was 15, one of my design projects was an automatic mechanical door opener for people in wheel chairs. The human element was present at an early age, developing meaningful solutions.
After mandatory education, so to speak, I completed A level Design and Physics (between the age of 16 and 18), these studies were focused only on the discipline as a way towards qualifying for entry into a university. I honed my craft of communicating and academic skills understanding wood, metal, plastic and all the production based processes like injection molding, welding fabrication and attended one of the top 5 universities in the U.K. at the time.
Undertaking a Design for Industry degree in Salford Manchester which emphasized user centered design, I also learnt about the intersections of various roles including marketing, manufacturing, and research tools. Empathizing with users and generally creating things with meaning that could be produced and sell.
My career started at GE, where I worked on home appliances small and large. I was fortunate that my formative work was working globally with steel smiths in Italy, electronics engineers in Korea and injection molders in Chicago. Anything from water faucets to fridge freezers. I developed a laundry system that had some amazing consumer based features for the time. During my tenure at GE I also had an opportunity to work on the premium products, this was enlightening as much different consumer and cost approach is used, where Monogram line is the top shelf of appliances. Here I learned a lot about Solidworks, Rhino, prototyping and design detailing for production.
Stints at Ziba Design in Portland and Radius in Chicago consultancies left me incorporating more meaning into work with the emphasis that clients would desire the meaning and engage in relationships with us. Ziba left a mark on me with the use of Archetypes as a method of understanding and a platform to create. The holistic value of design beyond the craft really resonated in connecting the dots for creating great experiences. A really interesting project was the work done on Coca-Cola for introducing new technologies through new consumer experiences.
Design always had to have a meaning, a need, and a human connection to provide real value, I struggled where this was not the case, and it was just stuff for the sake of stuff. The role of consumer research and understanding of markets was critical and I am fortunate to be able to conduct research and make links to how this can birth product opportunities.
Heading back to the west coast, At Yakima Racks I worked as Sr.industrial designer in an Advanced Development area for a few years working with in-house engineering and manufacturing in Mexico. I worked on many projects that included core bicycle designs and roof top boxes, plus new concepts, after a few years I took a role which allowed me to influence Yakima in a bigger more meaningful way where I connected brand to product offering a value proposition which was clever, authentic and had meaning. More butts in seats had a strong emotional and functional connection that Yakima could deliver on, I launched that in the creative work.
While at Yakima I was instrumental in launching a technology-based product – Whispbar. The name was coined by an aerodynamic technology, this was the underpinnings of a premium and luxurious products that considered a higher level of function and materials form. I worked on the development of an advanced bicycle rack called WB200 and also the creative assets showing how Whispbar would be seen to consumers.
A change of pace was needed so at Pinnacle Agency I worked on trade-shows. The design of large 3 dimensional objects allowed a look at product on an architectural scale but also how to capture the clients meaning in a 3d space with strong brand dna. This client facing work help undergo what would become Pinnacles own new brand meaning and messaging “We create memorable brand spaces”. Pinnacle operated in very practical terms but in reality what they delivered was much more emotional- Pinnacle created memories for consumers of their clients. Memorable experiences became the backbone of a new brand strategy and website refresh to elevate Pinnacle from its cheaper faster competition.
For just about 2 years I had been slowly transforming Leatherman tools with design based thinking. They are a brand steeped in engineering thinking, very practical, hanging their hat in engineering excellence. Design for a long time was a way to prettify stuff, with no idea that design base thinking could change how we look at the business and markets. Like a lot of companies that get locked in their ways with incremental product changes and no real growth, my challenge has been to inject design thinking into the process. Enabling a more human centric view, raise the bar and create diversified product innovation that has meaning. Not losing the authenticity and functionality of Leatherman but ultimately become a Brand that engineers. vs an engineering brand. While at Leatherman I developed quite a few products that connected with new markets, from Tradesperson multitools to modern urban pocket knives and the Tread Watch.
September 2017 – JDBDESIGN.co
I love the area and craft of design and I crave the opportunities to reach out and influence by connecting the dots. Maybe this is new ways of doing business, new way of making better, or better ways of connecting with the consumer. My process is nothing unique to the field of design, but it’s also not rigid, flexing for different projects and it’s executed upon with years of experience.
For further information drop me an e mail at email@example.com