Walk with your projects and questions…
We’ll recap the first half of the quarter and share updates on coming events!
This week we’ll have round robin portfolio reviews by both peers and professionals to prepare for this week’s IDSA Southern Conference. The best work will be featured on our display booth at the conference, giving you an opportunity to showcase your projects. Pizza will be provided [at a safe distance from the portfolios of course].
10 minutes with BlueMap design founder and President, Simon Yan
Q: How do you view the competitive landscape?
We are up against both large and small design firms but I don’t want to list any companies because I don’t view them as competition. Yes we are competing for work but I view it as all part of being in the business. You are as good as your last piece of work. Just like a student, you represent yourself with your best portfolio. It’s the same for design firms. You go out there and show the best projects and that’s how you get noticed and get work.
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?
As a designer I draw inspiration from simple things that happen around us and I like things that crossover. For example common processes that are used in other industries and how they can be applied to different things for example the airless sprayer redesign [case_01: Lecture] drawing on the familiar form of the spray bottle.
A lot of times you are not completely reinventing the wheel you are finding new approaches and materials in a different context for example [as he takes out his laptop and points to] the micro-drilled holes for the apple macbook pro power / sleep indicator.
Q: Any advice for the entrepreneurs among us? What is the single biggest lesson that you learned?
BE PERSISTENT! Trust and believe in yourself and do it. Don’t think about it too much. Just do it! Because the more you think about it… How am I going to pay studio rent…? How am I going to get clients…? What if___? You’ll all of a sudden have an excel sheet with a list of problems and reasons why it’s not possible. If you have the urge, just do it. Things will fall in place. The worse that can happen is that you have to close up and start over. When you’re young and you have no attachments the best thing you can do is try, and if it doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen. It’s not the end of the world. You don’t even have the chance to fail if you don’t try.
Q: How do you look for business opportunities?
Try everything. As a small studio you have to try everything. Try all contacts you’ve had in the past…cold calls… enter competitions… submit for design awards… even school visits. Coming to speak to you guys is a great thing! The more you network and the more publicity you get the better. You could be the best designer in the world but if you’re locked in a room, no one will know. The more people you know the bigger network you create and the more your work will spread.
Q: If you could time travel back to college what would you do differently?
I wish I had learned a little bit more about the business side of things. You learn design and production methods but what’s lacking especially for running a small business, is the other side of being creative; the finance, economics, writing contracts, presentation skills, speaking skills, people skills. I had to learn it the hard way through work experience, and acquire these skills along the way. I want you guys to get out there… do a little bit more… you might not see the results right away but in the long run you are going to be a much more rounded designer and your job will be a lot easier, whether hired into corporate environment, working at a consultancy or running your own studio.
Regular registration ends this Friday!
To book your spot on the bus… send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever wanted to know a little bit more about your professors? Well, here’s your chance. We sat down with Professor John McCabe to learn a little bit more about how he got to this point and what he thinks of design in general.
How did you first become interested in design?
JM: All I know is that I used to draw a lot when I was a kid. I would always draw cars, planes and houses, only because I saw my dad doing it. He was a draftsman for an architectural firm and he would always draw things then help me draw.
I remember this one night in particular, I was drawing things all 2 dimensionally and he pulled out his perspective and drew this plane in perspective and that’s when I changed the way I looked at drawings. That led me to look into architecture, which led me to look at how things are made. I’ve always been a techie; my dad was always into computers and a mix of those two help me do Autocad and computer programs easily.
When did you decided to pursue design as a career and how did you go about it?
JM: I didn’t really decide, it kind of just happened. I was finishing up my masters at Auburn and there was an opportunity to be a graduate teaching assistant and I found that I really liked helping people. And at that point, I found that I was always a resource for people anyway. I then had to fill in as a temporary instructor at Auburn; I didn’t know where I was going to go after that. The teaching experience that I had was an open door; at a random IDSA conference I was introduced to Tom Gattis and five years later I’m still here.
Is there one type of product that you like designing the most?
JM: well there’s two. My background in electronics is mainly from the computer side; I really enjoy consumer electronics and the services around that. I have a passion for the outdoors – I don’t have enough time but when I was a kid I was always outdoors, so I like creating products around that.
Can you share something that you’ve always been fascinated with?
JM: I can’t think of anything right off the bat, but I’m really intersted in the engineering side of things – how certain forces go through products, how they stand up, why they feel sturdy. Oh, and I love big tires and trucks.
IDSA: can you name your favorite designer(s)?
JM:I actually don’t have a favorite designer. I don’t look up designers, but when I see something cool I like it for the object, I don’t like it for the designer. Designers sometimes have a style, which means I might like a few of their designs, but not everything they do. I rarely research designers, mainly products and architecture individually. If I had to pick someone, it would probably be Le Corbusier who could do architecture and products.
What’s one piece of advice you would give students?
JM: stop whining and don’t give up. Its not the end of the world if your model breaks or if your hard drive crashes; get over it and move on. Its not going to get any easier, if you can’t deal with it here, you’ll have major hurdles in life.
IDSA: what do you see as the next big trends in design or otherwise?
JM: there are quite a few, but the speed at which technology is affecting the design industry is exponential. In five years, what are we going to be able to do from our phone? Are we going to be to print out our food? Technology is going to have a massive influence on us as designers.
Designers are going to have to differentiate themselves; we’re going to be the problem solvers, or creating the networks for the non designers to make it from home.