Interview transcripts

Adam Hobbs
Andrew Simpson
Andrew Tovey
Hayden Youlley
James Gardiner
Liz Palmer
Lucy Klippan
Paul Sztajer
Shanshan Wang
Stuart Faulkner
Vaughan Knight
William Goshnick

Adam Hobbs – Senior Industrial Designer

My name is Adam Hobbs, I’m a senior industrial designer. I currently work at Tiller Design in Rozelle. They’re one of the leading product design agencies in Sydney.

What is your role in the design industry?

So, for me personally, it’s variant depending on which role you’ve got. For me, it’s basically taking a project from concept right through to manufacture. Some jobs only entail you to do the front end, the pretty concept stuff. Other parts of the back end, doing all the nitty gritty. I cover all that in my role. So, it’s pretty broad.

What do you have to think about during the design process?

A couple of factors. So, looking a the actual “who’s going to be using it?” You’ve got to make it suitable for that person. I try to think of as many potential issues down the line as I can. What I mean by that is, if I’m designing a plastic part, I’m thinking about how that can come off the tool that makes that part. Human factors, so, for example, you’re designing something being held by a hand, you need to look the ergonomics and human factors that are involved in that, in order to make a product that even works for that function. Often we can design things that are impossible to manufacture, I’m constantly thinking down the line how I can solve that before it becomes an issue.

How important is collaboration?

It opens your eyes. No one has a bad idea, they come in and they bring a fresh pair of eyes to a problem and you can basically solve something differently than you would’ve ever tackled it. It’s a great way to open new avenues for design.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

No idea is bad, just listen and be open to anything. Even if, at first, you go “that’s just not going to work” there might be something in that little thought process that they’ve had that will open up the avenue. So, my biggest advice is just be open to any kind of input.

What choices are available to learners after school?

I think there’s more choices than ever. Everyone’s always expected to go the uni direction, that’s a great avenue. That’s the way I partly went. TAFE is a great system too. I did half my course through TAFE, half through university and I was able to do the bridging gap between the two to get a full Bachelor’s degree out of that. So, there’s lots of options open. It’s important to have some kind of certificate or something to show that you’re qualified but at the end of the day it’s your portfolio that really counts. When I’m looking at hiring juniors or new staff, that’s what we’re looking for is fantastic work, great thought process, good design process.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

Just like I said, with my portfolio, trying to target that to where I want to go in the design industry. Really think about the project you choose now because that’s essentially what’s going to lead you into the field of design. It’s great to have that little project on the back burner, ready to go, so your portfolio has some content in it straight out of school.

I can tell you now, in my field, sketching is almost number one skill that you need because it’s the quickest iteration process. You can get your ideas down on paper very quickly. It’s all great to have these pretty renders in your portfolio, but end of the day, if you can sketch well and convey your ideas to a client, you’re miles ahead.

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Andrew Simpson – Industrial Designer

Hi I’m Andrew Simpson. I’m the principal designer at Vert Design.

What is your role in the design industry?

So, I’m an industrial designer. So we’re responsible for the design of physical objects, from anything you see here, televisions to chairs to glasses to all objects.

How do you apply creative problem solving?

What is industrial design process really is just a system of problem solving. I guess what we work and in the studio is to define the problem worth solving. So every product you see represents a number of problems that were solved and whether those problems were worthwhile or not often determines whether the product is worthwhile.

How important is collaboration?

For me, personally, collaboration is hugely important. I’m almost incapable of working entirely by myself. I need feedback from other people and that ability to work in a social group really drives what I do. And a lot of the most successful works I’ve done have been collaborations. And sometimes the collaborating partner isn’t a designer or doesn’t bring tangible skills to project. They might just bring an outlook or be able to articulate the problem in which we’re solving.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

Be generous and honest and create clear briefs. Sometimes having what seem like slightly difficult conversations and establishing people’s roles in the collaboration is one of the easiest things you can do to make sure it’s a success.

What steps did you take to get where you are?

Went and studied industrial design at Newcastle University. I did a semester there and I transferred to UTS and finished up another 4 years there. During that time, I worked as a glass blower. I got a job in a glass studio and working as a glass blower gave me a real foundation in one material so I knew this one material really well and had the ability to produce works in that. That allowed me to go on and know a whole bunch of other materials really well and understand how to learn about a process and works that were worthwhile in that.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

My advice for students is always the same. I say you should be drawing all the time. If you want to be a designer you need to be drawing all the time. I would fill a sketch book a week in things that I see or designs that I like and I’d advise the same for students. If you’re on the bus, draw the back of the bus seat, if you’re in class draw the table next to you or draw little scenes that you see. But the ability to draw does two things, it teaches you to see, often when people can’t draw they literally cant… they’re not seeing properly. And if you draw something you can say “well how does the shadow fall on that?” and “oh that’s actually curved in both directions” and you really get to understand form by drawing and it’s the core skill that allows creative expression.

What choices are available to learners after school?

There’s a huge amount of opportunities. So the tools of design are becoming simpler which is making the opportunities greater. I’ve just sat on the course advisory panel for TAFE NSW which is doing an amazing design degree, which I would highly recommend. I sat on the course advisory for UTS and UNSW and they have very different degrees that are much more academic based, they’re very worthwhile as well. So, there’s a huge number of ways to get into design and number of ways in which you can practice as a designer. It’s a very exciting time to do this and there’s a lot of opportunities that exist.

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Andrew Tovey – Director of Public Programs

My name’s Andrew Tovey and I work as Director of Public Programs at Total Environment Centre, which is an environmental campaigns organisation here in Sydney.

What is your role in the design industry?

I come up with creative projects that allow me to put across the core ideas, campaigns of my organisation to the public and to businesses and whoever my audiences are.

What do you have to think about during the design process?

Money. Because before I can do anything I need to have a business case for it and I need to know there are funds there. I then need to think within that budget. So, the next step is to go “right. What would I like to do? Ideal world” and then “how can I come up with something that looks a bit like that but using only the budget I have?”

What steps did you take to get where you are?

I am a geographer, I am a social scientist turned sustainability professional who has always made things in my spare time and known my way around power tools, sewing machines, paint brushes and all the rest of it. So, I basically decided, a few years back, that I was going to take my passion for making things and apply it to my work.

Have you had any unique experiences?

I was lucky enough to get handed $70,000 to do outreach work on ocean plastic pollution, which is now my main campaign focus. We turned that into the Ocean Action Pod. The Ocean Action Pod is this trailer that all opens up and it’s got all these displays about ocean plastic and how we can make a big difference as individuals and as communities. And it travels to beaches up and down the NSW coastline. That was an incredible process for me to essentially design and produce that and to work with professionals to do the industrial design and graphic design needed. But essentially to steer the whole thing myself, it was very rewarding, exhausting, but rewarding.

How important is collaboration?

So in my job, I have to work with a broad rang of people and collaboration is key. I need to be multi-skilled and to be very adaptable and to also know when to draw the line under my abilities and what I can do and call in the professionals. Whether they’re industrial designers, or illustrators or graphic artists to come up with sort of sophisticated finish where it counts and where it’s needed.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

I would say my first tip on collaboration is get good at networking. You can’t collaborate unless you have people to collaborate with. Go and meet people, and chat with them, have coffee with them and play with ideas.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

Get yourself out there, and think big, and try hard, and fail spectacularly, and get up and do the next thing because that the only way anything interesting ever happens.

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Hayden Youlley – Ceramics Designer

My name is Hayden Youlley and I work for a company called Hayden Youlley Design, which is my own company that I started that makes and sells ceramics.

What is your role in the design industry?

I hand make everything myself. I’ve been doing it for about six years now. The questions I get asked the most is probably what’s next? What are you designing now? What’s coming out of the studio in the future?

What steps did you take to get where you are now?

I took a lot of different steps. I probably took the what I would call the “back door approach”. So, I studied design and tech at high school and it was the only things I really enjoyed in high school. But the rest of high school I completely did not engage with and did not enjoy in anyway shape or form. Consequently left high school feeling really disillusioned. I was very young, I was only seventeen, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life or where I wanted to go. Got really bored by the time I was about twenty-one, and realised that I was ready for a big challenge, ready for education to be a big part of my life again. So I went in to design, and that is when I picked ceramics. So I did ceramics, object, and graphic design. Three-dimensional work was something that I really loved. I was very lucky, at that moment, I found a medium that really spoke to me as a person and me as a designer.

How important is collaboration?

Nothing is created in a vacuum. And nothing good ever comes out of one person’s head. Collaboration is all about an exchange of ideas and bringing things to the table and any piece of creativity will always be made better by multiple input from multiple sources because everybody has their own skill set, everybody has their own passion, everybody has that thing that they’ve been working really hard on and know very well. Especially in the designer-maker scene, people often get isolated. It’s very easy to have your own studio, to show up everyday, work by yourself in a vacuum and it gets very lonely and it gets very hard and so working in spaces that are co-operative and working in spaces that with other people. It’s just good for an everyday self-satisfaction

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

Often. And with as many people as you can. It’s not as easy as that. Especially when you’re a designer maker because you have very little time to devote to other people. I’m filling orders mostly but I love having people come to my studio, I love going to other people’s studios. I love the fact that I share a studio with other people. So be open to learning, people can get very pigeon-holed and comfortable their own skill set.

What choices are available to learners after school?

I think in Australia we’re very lucky, in Sydney in particular, we’re very lucky with the opportunities that are available to us. So, we do have the opportunity to study at great design institutions but it might not be the time and place for everybody. We do have great things, like back door approaches and bridging courses and secondary institutions that teach design and the level of design education at places like TAFE and private colleges is really, really good and really widely regarded.

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James Gardiner – Construction 3D Printing Pioneer

In my current role at Laing O’Rourke in the engineering excellence group I’m the head construction 3D printing innovation.

What is your role in the design industry?

So I lead our small group, FreeFAB. My focus or remit is really about developing innovations in construction 3d printing technologies, inventing those technologies, seeing those through to development and implementation in factories and then really thinking about how these technologies can be used within construction and transform the industry.

What do you have to think about during the design process?

There are so many different elements to the problem, from the development to the materials, technology, specific wax we use with the technology. Developing our own software for guiding the robot and doing the processing of the 3D printing and milling. There are other areas such as the recycling of the wax, understanding what the applications were and making sure the process was capable of that. And then there’s the interaction with different collaborators. There’s material scientists, to robotics engineers.

How do you apply creative problem solving?

Some of the problems we came up against in the process were limitations in capabilities. So, for instance, where we were looking to mill panels of wax, the time to mill them was quite long if we were to use traditional methods. The team developed methods of vastly reducing the time by taking a different approach.

How important is collaboration?

I think that collaboration is absolutely important. You can never have all of the skills that you need for a project. If you really try and push the boundaries you’ll rarely have all the skills needed and so collaboration’s absolutely important because you can bring in skills and different mindsets of other people that help you solve problems.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

I think the important thing is to be able to speak their language but also to be prepared to investigate and push into their field so you understand exactly what you’re talking about when you’re talking about a problem with them, and you’re able to talk about it in a language they understand.

What advice would you give learners in your area?

Part of the advice that I would give would be that you’re not necessarily limited to one profession. I started out in interior design, moved onto architecture and then became an inventor, and all of those are linked and I think the design process is very similar between all of them. Those skills that you learn in one profession, or one area can be applied in others. Often, can be quite innovative in the application of design thinking in different areas.

What steps did you take to get where you are now?

When I was finishing school, I didn’t do particularly well, and so I didn’t feel like I was good enough to be an architect or bright enough to be an architect, so I went into interior design. I then later went into architecture and did very well in that and went on to do a PhD in the particular field that I chose, construction 3D printing.

What choices are available to learners after school?

My advice to students that are looking to study in design or engineering is really that the future is astoundingly bright. The way that you’ll work in the future is very different to the way that professions work today. I think also doing your own experimentation and exploring your own enterprise can also be a great way of challenging what you do and learning what you’re good at.

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Liz Palmer – Costume Designer

Hello my name is Liz Palmer. I’m a costume designer in the film industry.

What is your role in the design industry?

Well the role of a costume designer is of course to design all of the costumes, and given that you’re given a brief from the director and read your script, that should be a simple process.

What do you have to think about during the design process?

when we read a script, it can, you know, you can follow one path with your design work. But there are many outside influences and that would be obviously a director’s brief, production design, and the actor.

How important is collaboration?

In film it’s very, very important. The people that I collaborate with the most would obviously be the director, but design-wise, would be the production designer. And then also the other person I collaborate with the most is the set decorator. The set decorator is responsible for, you know, the soft lounge that my goddess may sit in and the curtains that, you know, are parted. And the floor that, you know, someone falls on to. So, you know, the materials and the props and the setting within a set, are very important.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

Communication is the key. You have to keep those lines of communication open and on film sets we get really, really busy so you need to delegate. So as soon as the sketch is done, even if it’s only in pencil, you’ve really got to get it out to someone and make it someone’s job that that gets sent to the different departments, so everyone is on the same page.

Have you had any unique experiences?

The last film that I did, Gods Of Egypt, a different process came out. I developed a new design technique called “direct designing”. You can draw something on a piece of paper in 2D, but when you actually get the body shape, they might be really short-waisted and your design doesn’t fit. So we ended up printing a lot of the mannequins in the actor’s shape via a robotic dremal tool. So it was like an amazing step forward for me, to design this way.

What steps did you take to get where you are?

It was on a school excursion to the Elizabethan Theatre Trust Theatre and we went backstage to the costume room where there was all these beautiful, you know, period costumes from Picnic At Hanging Rock. And I was able to touch the costumes that were hanging in the rack and I’d only just seen that film. So me being able to touch a costume that I’d seen, you know, more than five stories high on…in a cinema, really hit home to me. So I actually pursued, from there, a career in theatre – I thought I wanted to be in the theatre – but then, you know, I ended up being in costume. I did do a course, and this is what I want to get through to students: you have to pursue what you want. You really do have to be that squeaky wheel, cause that gets the oil. You have to grind and grind and grind and grind away, pester your teachers, pester, you know, your lecturers, because it’s like, you know, if you don’t pester you won’t get anywhere. So it’s like I pestered my Mum, and said “I really want to find out how to get into costume.” And I – all I wanted to do was work in the workroom. That’s all I wanted to do was be part of possibly making or handling that costume that I saw in that theatre. she found and spoke to the man who ran Elizabethan Theatre Trust and we had a meeting. And I was 12. And he said, “Well when you finish school, you do this course.” There was no costume course available, there was only the fashion… I think it was called ‘The Certificate of Fashion’ or ‘Fashion Certificate Diploma’. And it was a three-year course and I did that and I learnt to sew. So my tip to anyone who wants to get into costume is you have to learn to sew.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

Squeak! Squeak! Really put your hand up and annoy the teachers and say “This is really what I want to do. I’m really, really interested in costume. How do I do it?” And you should be able… that teacher should be able to set you up with “Okay you go to AFTRS. Contact AFTRS.” There are workshops, there are… And you know, it might not be costume that you’re interested in – it might be 3D animation, it might be any technical side of film. AFTRS are great. They have short courses during holidays and you can sign up for them. There’s a great website called Screen Hub. While you’re in college or in TAFE, you’ve got to get some work experience. Ask your teachers to please find out the productions that you can work on. Get a week’s work, and put your head down and learn, and learn from all the masters that are sort of like at the work-tables doing their stuff. They’re the ones that are working in the industry and so you, you know, get your foot in the door.

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Lucy Klippan – Visual Designer

My name is Lucy Klippan. I am a designer and I work at UTS in a design research centre there, called Designing Out Crime.

What is your role in the design industry?

My own experience is probably a little bit different to what some other designers may be expected to do because I work in a transdisciplinary team. So I work with not just designers but lots of different types of people. And we work on complex social problems but apply a design approach to that. So, what is expected of me can vary quite a lot depending on what project we’re working on. But, because my skills are in visual communication and visual design often it comes down to making sense of complex information in a form that is easy to understand by lots of different people.

How important is collaboration?

I think collaboration is hugely important and quite difficult. A lot of people are trying to find ways to collaborate on different things and I think finding it difficult. I think when you have collaboration, you have lots of different minds and lots of lots of different perspectives on a problem or a project. It is a really valuable thing because it opens up the scope of what is possible. You can come up with a lot of different ideas that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

I think it’s very important to have a very clear idea of what everyone wants to achieve and to have that goal as well as being open and respectful of different ways of viewing a situation. So looking for common ground that everyone can stand on and see things in the same way.

What steps did you take to get where you are?

It was a little bit roundabout. I started out of school, I did a Bachelor of Fine Arts and I had thought that I would transfer into a design degree but I didn’t end up doing that. I enjoyed Fine Arts and then I went to work in a couple of different places. Through my work and private companies and the public sector I was exposed to graphic design, then decided to go back to uni. I did a Masters of Design at UTS, which is how I found out about Designing Out Crime. Which is where I’m now working. Which is great because it allows me to incorporate these creative skills with this social focus that is really interesting to me.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

I would say, if I was to talk to myself as a student finishing high school, I would say “Don’t freak out” because not all of us know exactly what we’re going to do when we grow up. And I’m still trying to work that out now. So, I would say “follow your passion and keep an open mind and keep and eye out for other ideas that may not be in your head and the moment and be aware of what is out there because there is a lot that is possible.

What choices are available to learner after school?

A huge array of options, which could be overwhelming but I think is also just really exciting because particularly for design students, the way the whole field of design is changing so much now. The value of the way designers work and approach a problem is valued so much now, that it’s spilling into other areas that are well outside the traditional design realm. So, I think the focus on transdisciplinary working is increasingly popular. So, the value of having multiple skillsets is really being taken seriously and is really being promoted a lot more. So the idea that you’ll have multiple different jobs and different types of skills is becoming more and more common. I think that’s really great, because you get quite a varied…You get all kinds of options open to you but you also get to work on lots of different, interesting things.

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Paul Sztajer – Game Designer

I’m Paul Sztajer, I’m a game designer and developer. I currently work at 3P Learning, working on making games, both physical and digital, that teach kids mathematics. I also run a company called SeeThrough studios. Our main game that we’ve made in the past is called Particulars, it’s based on particle physics. As a studio we’re really interested in taking science and turning it into games to help people understand that science.

What is your role in the design industry?

Different things depending on the project, I think. Especially as a studio head, you kind of just do whatever you need to do, whatever needs to be done. Each project we have goes through multiple stages. So, we’ll have ideation so it’s more kind of understanding the problem that we’re trying to solve, understanding the subject matter.

What do you have to think about during the design process?

The way I like to think about design is you’re problem solving for constraints and often you don’t know all the constraints at the start. What you’re trying to do is figure out what all the constraints are, what all the requirements are by either doing research or thinking about it understanding the topic a lot more but then also by trying things. So you might not quite understand, a lot of the time what you don’t understand is how someone is going to react to something you make. So, you’ll make the simplest version of it you can as quickly and cheaply as you can and you put it in front of them and see how they react. That helps inform how you then do the next thing.

How important is collaboration?

Big things require people with very different skillsets and expertise. You can’t do it all yourself.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

Something that can be really useful, and this is where roles comes in, is really delineating what someone is an expert at and making it clear that everyone has a voice. It’s really important everyone is heard on all topics but there is someone who can make that final call and just say “no, we’re doing this and we’re going to move forward.”

What steps did you take to get where you are?

I took a very roundabout route. So, I did science and software engineering at uni. I did some student theatre and ended up doing some directing and producing through that. I learnt so much more, so much of what I do actually comes from that experience. After I finished uni, I just started making a few games on my own, here and there. At that stage, I started getting involved in the game development community. So, there’s a really great welcoming community in Sydney.

What choices are available to learners after school?

I personally think you get a lot out of a general education. I find that I’ve gotten a lot creatively out of having a wide educational experience. So, knowing things from all different areas has actually enriched what I’ve made. Games is a practice as a medium so you have to make things and generally the most important thing you have is your portfolio. Generally, people don’t care as much about your qualifications so at the end of the day what you make is more important.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

Game development is complicated, there’s a lot involved so the more times you can do small projects, the better off you’re going to be. The International Game Developers Association is a good place to start in terms of getting in touch with people who are doing this already. Every year there’s an event called Global Game Jam where people spend 48 hours over a weekend making games in teams. That’s a great way to make your first game. The advice that I really like, that I’ve heard that I really like, is if you don’t have a passion follow your interests, follow what makes you interested and inquisitive.

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Shanshan Wang – Strategic Innovation Designer

My name is ShanShan Wang. I am currently a designer. I specifically design products. I am also the founder and CEO at Roam Technologies.

What is your role in the design industry?

Product design is actually really interesting. Usually we get clients that come in and go “I’ve got this crazy idea”. We start off from a sketch perspective, right through to prototyping stage and straight to a mass produced product.

How do you apply creative problem solving?

There’s always to multiple answers to multiple questions to multiple solutions. It’s trying to find what best fits the customer and that’s always the hardest part of it. Usually you’ll have ten, twenty concept different ideas and you take those ideas to the customer themselves and you find out which of those ideas are the more, the ones that work with that customer.

How important is collaboration?

Collaboration is awesome! In the design world, we called ourselves T-shaped individuals. So, T-Shaped basically means you’re good at everything but you’re very specialised in a particular field. As everybody is well aware no one is great at everything. So, you’re really good at usually one thing and when you’re collaborating with different people, everybody has their own T and that’s when, we call it “the magic”, that’s when the magic happens. So, being able to collaborate together from people from different fields and different intersects. And then you think of it like a Venn diagram, you’ve got the business, you’ve got the design and the engineering and in the centre is your innovation, is your product.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

Keep an open mind. Definitely when you have an open mind, you see things in a different way. You see things in a different perspective. Once you have that thought process things start to open up, different idea, different ways of merging different areas begin to open up.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

Don’t ever give up. Keep going. Even when the road is very, very, very rocky. And when people say to you “you can’t make it, you can’t do it”, that’s when you know you’re onto something and you should keep going and you should keep doing it. Most designers and most entrepreneurs, as they call themselves, you’re always the black sheep of the group. There’s always people out there that will hate on what you do, or at least don’t encourage you to do what you do. Whether it’s your friends, your family, just random people. But, like I said, at the end of the day it’s all about you yourself. If you understand what you’re doing and you love what you’re doing it doesn’t become work anymore it just becomes fun to do. Trust your gut and trust your intuition, because end of the day, that’s probably the only thing you can rely on. Everybody else is just a distraction. You need to understand where you are and who you are because you, yourself, will only understand you.

What steps did you take to get where you are?

Someone said to me that I would never make it as a designer, I would never be able to turn around the money of what a doctor would probably turn around or what a lawyer would turn around. I said to that person, “Wait for it. Watch me and I’ll do it!” And it was kind of that and when it kind of stemmed off and I started my career as a designer and I’ve always focused on that particular area.

What choices are available to learners after school?

Multiple, many, heaps. Say for example you don’t do that well in the HSC, if you really want to go to uni there’s different ways you can get yourself into uni. I know that with UNSW they have portfolios that you can submit to and they’ll more than happily accept your portfolio and they’ll take you in that way. Don’t think that after high school, it’s the end of the world. Now that we have technology at the tip of our fingers, you can pretty much do anything. You can start your own business. You can literally start a business with $1000 in your back pocket. You can do pretty much anything nowadays.

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Stuart Faulkner – Furniture Designer

My name is Stuart, I run an educational establishment for adults recreational. A wood school called Heartwood. Basically, I have been a designer for all of my adult life and in the latter part I have also been a maker, obviously a furniture maker.

What is your role in the design industry?

My part of the design industry is probably a relatively small one, in the sense that as a designer/maker you have to interact with your clients and establish what your design brief is, what are they looking for, what are their requirements, what are the aesthetic requirements as well as the functional requirements? And design a piece that meets that brief.

How do you apply creative problem solving?

Generally, with furniture, it’s ergonomics and functionality as well as aesthetics.

So, is my chair comfortable? Is it the right height? Is the back supporting my lumbar in the correct way? And then also is it attractive? Does it look visually appealing? Does it make me want to sit in it? Is my fabric washable or is it the correct choice or is it sustainable? We have all of those which we sort of manoeuvre in a delicate balance until we get the right outcome.

What do you have to think about during the design process?

We basically problem solve in a very physical fashion, generally with mock-ups. And the mock-ups are, we create them really cheaply out of cheap materials, pine, we screw them together. Its job is to tell me is this piece going to function in the way that I want it to do. Then we’ll move it forward to resolve it to the final piece and we can confirm what joinery we want. So, that’s how we problem solve, or I problem solve.

How important is collaboration?

If you want to make, generate really interesting objects so, if I’m a furniture designer, if I solely look at other pieces of furniture I will tend to replicate what I see. If I seek my inspiration from other people, so if I look at jewellery or if I look at ceramics or if I look at textiles and costumes and nature I will create much more stimulating and interesting ideas

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

Find somebody that is enthusiastic and that’s willing to fail. So we all know that we learn more by what we do wrong than what we do right and it is generally good designs are born out of perseverance.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

Take it back to the basics. Draw – it doesn’t matter how good or bad your drawing is, it really is just express the idea in the most simplest form and get them out there. Cover as much ground as possible and see how many ideas you can get out. Obviously the more ideas you can express, the more of a pool you have to drawn upon to create what will be your ultimate design. Do not neglect basic things like model-making, create in the easiest way possible a basic model so that you can see what it’s going to look like, so that you can express your design ideas to others that might want to help you or be asked to help you, so you have something physical to see and interact with.

What choices are available to learners after school?

So, obviously, there is the whole world of industrial design. So, whilst I focus on furniture, I think as a designer your skills are really transportable. You may find yourself studying industrial design and you become interested in eco-housing. The problem solving skills and the communication skills that you will generate, usually, as a designer are reasonably transportable. In terms of furniture design, clearly there are companies out there that employ furniture designers or you can take a more artisan route, like myself, which is you work on a much more one to one basis. You find clients and they come to you and express what they would like and you help them build that. Or you build that for them, shall I say. So really, there’s a commercial route where you can build multiples of something or be part of building furniture that will go out on multiples or you become generally…or as an aside to that you have all your movie world and model making and props and that sort of extends through and that’s sort of a great avenue for artisans as well.

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Vaughan Knight – Technical Evangelism Lead

I’m Vaughan Knight, I work at Microsoft in the developer experience and evangelism team. I’m the Technical Evangelism Lead there and what that means is, I head up a team of people who are very passionate about technology and how that can be used and how new technology, specifically, can be used by businesses to help drive their success.

What is your role in the design industry?

Where we fit in around the design industry, we work with a lot entrepreneurial businesses. I guess businesses in general who are looking to push the envelope in regards to what they can do with technology. We get to see, and I get to see, a lot of companies with their successes and their failures and what works and what doesn’t and some of the really innovative ideas that they come up with around design.

What steps did you take to get where you are?

I come from a technology background. I’ve always been very passionate about design and I think that’s sort of something that’s been core to who I am. And it’s probably more in the recent years that I’ve been more involved in industrial design. That’s more to do with the movement and the way that technology has moved towards, you know, Internet of Things. There’s all this amazing stuff that technology can do.

What do you have to think about during the design process?

There’s this holy grail of what you can achieve and what you want your product to be. I think that’s where you want to drive towards, but you need to be realistic on the way towards that and the really important thing with design is just to get it out and not be a perfectionist and compromise.

How important is collaboration?

If you want to be able to build something the users are going to use, you need to get diverse perspectives on it.

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

Surround yourself with great people, people you’re inspired by. Put yourself out there, go to meet ups and go to other collaborative spaces where you can meet people outside of your own circle. Generally, especially for students, as soon as you go and talk to another group of people, another circle that you are not connected to, your mind will be blown because they’ll have all these different ideas that they’ve been nurturing for a really long time. What that means is you end up with a massive catalyst for ideas and you really need that in design.

What choices are available to learners after school?

I think the opportunities for them is probably to do anything. Right now, for students, there’s just an infinite number of choices. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have said that, so that’s not my canned answer. Industrial design has come so far, there’s so much stuff you can do, it’s just so accessible. We’re at that stage where if you can think of something, you probably can go make it. We weren’t there ten years ago and in ten years time it’s going to be nuts.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

Really think about the scope of who could use the designs or who could benefit from the designs that they’re putting together. Who is going to see it? Who is going to interact with it? If it’s industrial design, who is going to be using it day to day? If it’s an app, who are the users of that? And thinking about how are they catering for them and how are they making it better for them?

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William Goshnick – Costume maker, prop & gizmo designer

My name is William Goshnick and I guess by day I am an engineer for a water utility company, but by night and weekends I’m also a tinkerer, builder and creator of props, gizmos and costumes.

What is your role in the design industry?

It’s interesting. I guess I straddle two. In that, sort of the very official ‘engineery’, water utility one. So that’s all about, I guess, safety, protecting people, customers, you know, making sure water is clean and safe to drink – very, very important. On the other side of the coin with the producing of props and bits and pieces – they’ve got to look great. They’ve got to be sort of mesmerising to the audience, they’ve got to be unique, something different, cause otherwise people can get bored of it or they’re not interested in watching it and that’s, I guess, what they’re all about.

What steps did you take to get where you are?

guess I learnt and studied engineering at university, so that’s where I started. And there’s obviously elements of design very much from a very formal perspective and so that’s where I started. But then as I got into industry and then I was lucky enough that I met my now wife, and she is a performer – a circus, burlesque dancer – and I started building things for her just out of fun.

What do you have to think about during the design process?

I’m very formal in how I like to lay things out. To me, it’s about solving problems. So if I understand the problem, and need to know what it needs to do, I think then my ability to solve it through design is a way, sort of, to tackle it. So, I like to, yeah, really discuss with the client and say “What do they actually need?” It’s important. “What’s nice to have? What’s must have? What’s should have?” And then you can really prioritise and say “Well, you know, we have to have that. Without that it just won’t work. These are some nice elements, we’re going to try and incorporate them if we can, but if we can’t, it’s not the end of the world and we can sort of work around it.”

How important is collaboration?

Collaboration is invaluable. Because you have your own sort of style, and I think you’re always going to be limited with what you can do, sort of, within your box. Most people, you know, they sort of stay in their sweet spot where they’re happy, where they’re comfortable – they might drift out occasionally – but if you can incorporate then somebody else, or multiple people who’ve got their own boxes and own styles, that if you get slight little bits of cross over, you know essentially you can expand your design universe to cover both elements

Do you have any tips on collaboration?

Enjoy the idea of actually getting other people involved and that they can be as passionate about the idea maybe as you are as well. And I think it’s just working in a team where everyone is just working towards a common goal. You know, that is really good as well.

What advice would you give to learners in your area?

Practise it. It might seem like a funny bit of advice, but I think it’s one of those things that you learn something new from every project you take on. So if you just sit back waiting for one good project, you’re going to miss out on the opportunity of sort of coming up with bits and pieces as you go. So, yeah, I’d say anything that’s thrown your way, even if it may not be in your, sort of spectrum of interest, have a go at it. See what you can learn. Even if you fail and can’t quite get sort of what they’re after, it is worth still having a go. Cause as I said, it’s about gathering and learning, and sort of, yeah, “hoarding ideas” as I like to call it, where you may not use it for the current project but it might come down and be important later down the track.

What choices are available to learners after school?

I think it’s really sort of flexible and I’d advise against sort of getting too much in your head exactly what you want to do. I think you have to just be open to opportunities that sort of come, yeah, I speak from my experience of saying “yeah”. I never thought I’d be doing costumes and props. Yeah that was never I guess originally in my career plan, but it’s been an amazing experience to sort of get into that. There are so many organisations and clubs and performers and all these people who are desperate for help in designing things, so it’s just a matter of finding them and getting involved. And I’d say you’re not going to get into it to become rich, but I think you can find the work to be fulfilling, which can be good as well.

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