How to be a Design Superstar!

Design Articles
Nov 29, 2007

Bono Glasses by killkenny

That’s right everyone just wants to be a Design Superstar? Oh really? No the fact of the matter is, when all else is equal, Superstars get hired, and boring designers don’t. The main difference between the two? The Superstar has the ability to sell his/her brand of design and if you want to be a Superstar, correction, a hired designer, you should seriously consider doing the same.

A designer’s guide to self-branding

Of all the professions out there, I think there is no other one that can benefit from “self-branding” as much as a design professional. That is because it is a profession that is almost solely driven by talent. The equation is very simple, in design it’s not about how many certifications or affiliations you have, but what gets you ahead is the quality of your portfolio as well as your plain raw talent.

Before we go on, you might like to take a look at the basics of “self-branding” or what Tom Peters calls “Brand you“. Smart guy that Tom, he has been talking about it since 1997. Briefly, in a world where the consumer product market is so saturated and most products are essentially the same, the only proven way to get ahead is by branding. Not only just about branding of products but a holistic 360 degree effort including everyone else in the process including the design agencies used to create such products.

Drawing similar branding parallels from the consumer product industry, we are our now well past the new millennium and into a knowledge economy driven by talent. Competition within the talents for the top job is very high, and logically the only way ahead is by the talent branding themselves in some way. You see the crux of the matter is, every single positive influence adds up to putting you ahead and a personal brand is one big factor.

1) Do a SWOT analysis on yourself.

Remember the design methods class you fell asleep in? Well its a pity, especially since no one told you that a SWOT analysis could and should be done on yourself. Just like a company and its ability to generate revenue, I encourage designers to see themselves as a “business entity” that can generate income as well.

Therefore you need to identify your own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (to apply your strengths) and Threats (to your weakness) as a designer. So that when faced with the question of what are your strengths, you should never have a problem. Finally it is always good to have a short, medium and long term plan for yourself and career. It shows prospective employers what you want to do and that you have a vision for your future.

After you have listed all these points, you now have a list of keywords that can be the bases of creating your own personal brand and brand values.

2) Get a hair cut.

No seriously. I believe you are what you design. Many people get insulted when they are told they need to dress like a “designers” to be taken seriously. They figure that its a rude comment and encroaches in their personal style and space. That is further from the truth. Just like a consumer has only 3 seconds to size up a shelf of products, your prospective employer will size you up in that same amount of time.

In any case its pragmatic. Simply, that first impression is the most important. You will be surprise of the amount of control you have if you understood the stereotypes people associate with designers, and by looking like one you can use that to your advantage. Just don’t turn up for an interview in a beanie.

So carefully use your Strengths you have identified in Point 1 to style your own look. Your hair cut, sense of dressing, your watch (for guys), shoes (guys and gals) are all clues to a picture that you want to paint of yourself. It’s all part of your personal brand and something that should be part of your physical presence when you walk into a room. Remember every single positive point counts.

3) Buy your name as a dot com

I cannot begin to tell you how important this is. Not only for identity protection, but what you want is to turn up at the top of a Google search if a prospective employer or employment agency is doing research on you. As the Internet gets more and more integrated in today’s business world, the chances of you getting Googled is very high. I know I do it all the time.

4) Re-Brand your Portfolio

Now that you have identified your personal brand “keywords” and objectives in your design career, its time to “re-brand” your work. Just like a company’s branding initiative, you need to ensure that the documents you leave behind reflect your personal brand as well. Your portfolio, name card, resume, and perhaps that website design needs to reflect this through and through. This is especially important if you are putting your portfolio online.

On a slightly different but related note, do you then create a personal logo or monogram that reflects this personal brand? Personally, my feeling is don’t do it unless you spend some serious time working on it and that it looks good according to everyone who sees it. Most of the time I find personal logos or monograms very ugly and not well considered. A clear name card with just your name in a suitable font is good enough. But at the end of the day if you decide to create a personal logo, do ensure it reflects your personal brand values.

5) Start a blog

Now that you have a website that show cases your design work why not start a blog? The reaction on this, at this point in time, is mixed. There have been instances that people were fired when employers did not like what was written on their employees blogs. But these cases are rare, and if you keep your blog away from office politics you should be fine.

A great reason for starting a blog is to have your “voice” behind your work. Many times you can’t tell a designer’s personality by just looking at the work. But if you are able to share your thoughts, you will be better positioned as many employers often feel that they just don’t have enough time to determine an employee’s personality during those few interview sessions. Another great reason for a blog, is that it allows you to connect with other designers through the posting of your thoughts and by responding to comments left on your blog.

6) Join design networks

Get out there and market yourself! There are tons of great portfolio networking sites like Behance and Design Related. Just sign up, post your work, make friends, ask and respond to comments. Don’t forget that discussion forums on design are a good way to network with other senior designers as well.

Finally, don’t underestimate traditional non-design social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook as a means to share your work and network with other design professionals.

7) Win design awards

While its not the end of the world if you don’t win any, I always say you have nothing to lose by entering, and winning one gives you eternal fame an glory. Well not entirely eternal, but it is a great marketing tool for yourself and a confidence booster to be able to know that your work has been recognized by your peers.

8) Don’t oversell

At the end of the day, you need to be careful of all your different tools that you can use to sell yourself. The important thing to do is not use the wrong tool for the job and worst still end up by looking like you are overselling yourself. For example, don’t bombard people on your social network with every single job you did in your 15 year history as a designer; leave that for your resume. Don’t stick all your beautiful high resolution images on your portfolio website making it hard to navigate, just leave that to your face to face meeting instead.

9) Do good work!

Always, I say ALWAYS do good design work. Even if you hate your job or your boss or the project, make sure that it is the most beautiful design you can make it be. A good reputation is hard to build, and it is just too easy to lose.

10) A different take?

I like to close this post by getting you to check out a few tips at Fast Company’s 2004 update of Tom’s Brand-you Article as a different, more corporate, but relevant take on this issue of Self-branding.


As you can probably guess becoming a Design Superstar is not easy and requires a lot of hard work. It does not happen overnight nor is it something you become. What it is, is that it requires is time before it can happen. Simply because with time, you will do good work, acquire more knowledge, build an interesting portfolio, rinse and repeat, again and again. Best of luck in your design career!

The Un-p3 Project Update

Nov 25, 2007

brian- ling-un-p3-project

It has been a good number of months since the I’ve last updated my readers on the status of this project. Firstly though I like to apologize to a few of this project’s supporters for this delay but I have not been idle and was working on it during my spare time. I really was waiting for this time to finally give you an update.

Most of you astute readers would have already noticed that The Un-p3 Project is currently being exhibited at the Dandelion Industrial Design Exhibition. Unfortunately due to the entry criteria, that exhibition is really only for “show”. Therefore I thought to continue and expand upon the “tell” part here at Design Sojourn. This will be a great opportunity for you to ask any additional questions or make comments of any kind. Also I get a chance to explain how I went from the Haptic concept, and came up with the Wave one.

The Un-p3 Haptic concept: For more information see links below

If you missed the original conceptual thinking of this project that I am self-developing in the role of a design producer do take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 first for some background information, especially on the above Haptic concept.

I have to admit that it has been difficult realizing this project and even at this stage we are not totally done. After speaking to more designers about the Haptic Concept, the deeper complexities of my objective of this product’s creation process became more evident. So I wondered, perhaps unsatisfied with the current use of wood, that perhaps I should open my thoughts to consider other forms of craft manufacturing type techniques? But there is this problem going the craft route.

You see the when we look at craft vs manufacturing scale below they are actually polar opposites of each other:
The Haptic concept tends to fall on the more craft end of things, and I would rate the Wave concept as in between the two.

Craft manufacturing tends to focus on one off products or small production runs often hand made, but as a result often suffers from tolerencing and perhaps reliability issues. Mass manufacturing strives on standardization and volume, thus the products will have good fit but you need to sell in the numbers. As the project’s experiment was about exploring the use of craft based manufacturing juxtaposed with an electronic product, we need both small volumes, attention to detail, but still have good part fit.

One day while speaking to some friends working on their design project, I had a “euraka” moment. Why not use a Rapid prototype machine? Not only does it allow me some freedom in design (well almost, the RP machine still has restrictions) but it also allows fairly good tolerancing and part fit that is perfect for building electronic products.

So as I got started and studied the creation process via the Rapid Prototyping Machine, I decided very quickly that I had to designed this concept so that it would be difficult to be reproduced via mass-manufacturing. Undercuts, flat edges, thin walls, narrow gaps, living hinges and surface texture were tricks that came into play below.

The Un-p3 Project: Wave Concept

So there you go, the Wave concept. I have to say though it was a very interesting experience as after more than 10 years working on Industrial Design programs, certain manufacturing “givens” like part line placement or designing for draft have been ingrained in my creative creation process. In creating this Wave concept, it required me to spend a few days re-thinking and re-framing what I know about design for manufacturing before I could even set my mind free. I hope you enjoy reading about this project as much as I did creating it.

So if you had a choice on which direction would appeal to you, if I made a limited edition run of 20 pieces which would it be? Perhaps I may do a 10-10 split? Regardless please do have your say and I look forward to all your comments.

Why don’t people complain about Good Design?

Designing Designers
Nov 23, 2007

I know I do, I always swear like a “Potty Mouth” when ever I stumble over any kind of great Industrial Design work.

Even though I am from sunny Singapore, I rarely actually comment about the local design industry back home. Why? Well you know the old “taking a dump in your own back yard etc.” and I have tons of great designer friends that I love there as well.

Anyways I recently stumbled on a post at, a Singaporean blog aggregator, that takes designer Nick Pan’s post on the Singapore Design Festival 2007, totally mis-interprets him and twists his words into the usual anti-government whine that is a great waste of time and tax-payers money blah blah. What that “Anonymous Coward”, and I dare say an idiot, got wrong is that he/she either misunderstood Nick or just stirring up a hornets nest. Here is Nick’s quote in full:

I’m so glad Singapore embarks onto stuff like that, but do general Singaporeans appreciate design at all? Ask your fellow Singaporean friend “When was the last time design mattered to you?” If the person waited for 5 seconds, then design does not really matter to him / her.

Personally I think design is way way important, its like why have something when you can have it well designed as well. There is always a stigma as well that “Designer stuff” is expensive, but do you know that everyday stuff like the bus stop, traffic lights, even your humble tissue packet needs to be designed, design is not just posters and fancy products… design is a way of life (wah damn cliché statement, but its true!).

Yeah If you just focused on the first paragraph, as was quoted on, I too would be stirred.

However I like to also comment on Nick’s post as well. Nobody complaints about Good Design because it is seamless. It works so naturally to your needs that you don’t feel it. That to me is good design. If you have the eye to see it, Singapore actually has one of the best designed environments in the world. If the locals only knew how lucky they are…

Unfortunately there is just too much Press emphasis on the “Glamor” designer or the “Super Star” designer. As a result of this advertising success, not only people in Singapore, but people in the rest of the world often associate good design to be really a very small subset of the Design profession. The reality is, as Nick says, someone had to design your toothbrush, your door handle, your power socket, your umbrella, your street signs, your traffic lights etc. of which doing without how much less a quality of life would we have?

So now let’s join hands and swear in the name of all good design for a change?


Slightly off topic: With regards to the nay-sayer comments about the Singapore Design Festival (SDF) being a waste of time. Singapore has no natural resources except the smarts of its citizens. So if such an activity promotes or brands the fact that Singaporeans are cleverly creative and forward looking (such as the SDF), then I am whole heartily all for it. Think about it.

Google reminds me why I blog

About Design Sojourn
Nov 22, 2007

EDIT: As of 30 Nov 2007, I’ve noticed my page rank has gone back up to 5! So looks like Google re-inclusion works. We are back in business and traffic has never been better!

There has been a lot of crazy things happening in my life in the last quarter of 2007. The problem was that I was so damn busy that I did not have the time to update readers for what has been happening. So not only was I bogged down daily with work, I had to finalised the Dandelion Exhibition and at the same time finish my Un-p3 Wave concept for this exhibition entry.

Not only that something major also happened to this blog. Sometime at the end of October or early November the Page Rank of Design Sojourn dropped from 5/10 to 3/10. It felt like a dagger through my heart, however I had so much on my plate then that I just could not deal with it. But whenever I had some down time I was researching on why my Page Rank had drop when it was a steady 5 all along. It’s only now that I have some time to really think about this issue and make some hard decisions.

Before we go on, just what is this Page Rank (PR) thing? According to Ian Rogers:

So what is PageRank?

In short PageRank is a “vote”, by all the other pages on the Web, about how important a page is. A link to a page counts as a vote of support. If there’s no link there’s no support (but it’s an abstention from voting rather than a vote against the page).

So in other words, when one of you dear readers link to a post on my site, it indicates that you find my writings noteworthy, and thus casting a vote of confidence in my favour. Not only that, we can extrapolate to say that if 2 sites have the same information but one Site A has a higher (good) PR, while the other Site B does not, the site with a better page rank will come up on top the other Site B in Google’s search engine. Check out Google’s write up on how it indexes your site.

During my research I stumble on a great article by Darren Rowse (of Problogger fame) who adviced patience and going back to basics. I have decided to follow his advice and spent most of this month monitoring my website traffic, researching and keeping an eye on what other bloggers were doing as a result of this so called “fiasco”. Also strange enough the many blogs like Copyblogger or Problogger failed to mentioned that after this “bru-ha-ha” their PR actually quickly returned to what it was before. So much of the ranting and raving is really inaccurate.

Interestingly enough, for this entire month, traffic to Design Sojourn continued to be steady. Of the 47% of total visitors send by search engines, Google owns a whopping 82% share. Of this 82%, 79% are new readers, and infact it is up by 6.35%! So as a result of this experiment, there does not seem to have been any effect by this PR drop in real terms. So everything was going to be “hunky dory” and I was prepared to live with my PR drop especially since I was still ranking highly on the Google search results under certain keywords.

However a few events in the last week had made me change my mind.

After reading the fact that Google does not look to kindly on Text Link Ads (Paid linking), I emailed Text Link Ads to ask them if I could add a “rel=nofollow” to my paid text links. With their response to my email and a recent “confidential” publisher email they sent to me, it dawned to me that through my own naivety I was selling my Page Rank to other sites. Suffice to say, I was just uncomfortable with their new publisher “terms and conditions”.

Furthermore while looking at how to get my PR back up I discovered that Matt Cutts has said through an update:

…we now refer to it as a “reconsideration request.” Why? Well, not every spam penalty results in removal from Google’s index, so “reconsideration” is more accurate than “reinclusion.”


Considering this together with Google disliking paid links, I concluded while I was still in the index, I was penalized by a reduction in Page Rank. Furthermore based on what I gather PR is meant to represent, a drop in my PR could be seen as a tarnish in my reputation. Darren Rowse has also echoed my sentiment by his interview with Sydney Morning Herald where he said:

“It [the PageRank] does say something about my credibility and reputation – in a similar way to anyone ranking anything,” he said.

So I was at a cross roads, do I keep my current site as it is with the revenue from the paid links just paying for the upkeep of the site but living with a tarnish on my reputation? Or drop my paid links and hope to get a “reinclusion” to bring my PR back to 5?

At the end of the day I asked myself? Why do I blog? It has never been about the money. I blog to increase my learning, meet like minded people and most importantly I blog to solidify my reputation as a designer. I think at the end of the day, for designers, having a good reputation is priceless. A good one is difficult to build, while once you have one it is too easily lost in a blink of an eyelid. In our ranking/statistics crazed society, having a PR penalization is something I cannot afford despite growing evidence that PR is essentially meaningless.

So last night, I finally made the hard decision to remove the paid links that used to be in the grey bar at the top of this page. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly support internet advertising as it keeps this and many other sites alive. But if its sole purpose is to “game” the system, then I want no part of it. Also, I have not quite decided if I will run any more Ads other than Google’s Adsense, and more research on my part what is an acceptable format needs to be done. I am however interested to know your take on this issue and of my decisions. I look forward to all of your responses.

I like to also thank fellow design blogger David Airey for additional advice on this matter and helping me get to the crux of the problem.

The Dandelion Exhibition Launches!

About Design Sojourn
Nov 20, 2007

dandelion_logo.jpgOk the secret is finally out and one of the reasons why I have been “extra” busy during my down time!

After months of work sorting submissions, we have officially launched the Dandelion On-line Exhibition featuring work of designers from Asia and beyond.

It was really great experience, and interestingly enough it felt more like a bunch of friends getting together to show our Industrial Design work. So before I forget, I like to thank all the people who submitted their work to the Exhibition!

Also I like to personally thank py for all her hard work in helping me get the exhibition up and running. It was a great process getting to the end, and we hope you enjoy the Exhibition as much as we did setting it up. Please do let me know what you think?

Now on a high lets get back to regular programming at Design Sojourn!

Yet More Apple Bashing

Industrial Design
Nov 17, 2007

A British journalist interviewed Apple executive Phil Schiller about the Monopoly iTunes has created (ah la Microsoft Style) and the use of it for downloading music on the iPhone. The Apple PR animals jump right in to stop the interview, and forces it to be refocused it to the iPhone. I guess they forgot it is just a slab of glass without the software. It’s a funny one, enjoy!

Via: Clazh and originally from: Valleywag

Question of the week: What sort of Industrial Design Education should I take?

Designing Designers
Nov 16, 2007

Our budding young Industrial Designer David is back this week with a new question on his education and training in Industrial Design. He asks:

If I were to take up a course such as Engineering/Industrial Design double degree or take something up like Product Design Engineering, would it give me a better edge in the competitive world of jobs?

Or would taking up a Bachelor of Industrial Design be sufficient to get jobs?

Right now I’m tossing up between the two. Problem is that my maths is average and my chemistry is no better. (They are subjects required to get into the engineering courses)

Oh, also, sorry to be intrusive, but what course did you do and where? Like did you just do a Bachelor of ID or did you take a double degree as well?

First off David, not to worry my design background is not a big secret so I don’t mind sharing it with you. I graduated with a Bachelor of Industrial Design (Hons) from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia. I was one of their first few graduates. Currently I believe the course is doing well with a few notable award winning graduates with big name brands or employed in the design consultancies in Australia. If you like more information do check out their course website here.

Types of Industrial Education

There are essentially 2 types of Industrial Design courses or degrees. One is an art based approached and the other is a multi-disciplinary approach.

The Art School or Art based approach focuses on the styling and form creation and the nuances that come with such creative approach to design. They are also very craft base with lots of exploration with materials and different manufacturing processes. Often such degree courses require you, as an admission criteria, to have a portfolio of strong varied work done while you were in high school or during your past time.

Some of the art school advantages are that graduates are very strong in their understanding of form and in form development. However these students may need a lot of tutoring when it comes to making their designs more commercially viable or fiesable in manufacturing. These days though the art school graduates have become a lot better those aspects, but purely technical design work, such as case part design, will not be their strong point.

The other type of Industrial Design course focuses on a more multi-disciplinary approach, and is the approach that I studied at UNSW. This course structure finds it roots from a more European approach toward Industrial Design which believes that a successful product needs to consider all aspects of its success including marketing, ergonomics, engineering, manufacturing and design constraints. The students often take, in addition to design subjects, classes in the schools of Business and Engineering. This often results in design graduates that are well suited for commercial environments. Entry into such courses often don’t require a portfolio, but may require some ability in maths.

The advantage of a multi-disciplinary approach is that graduates get a strong understanding in what it takes to create a successful product as well as strong research and analytical skills. The down side is such graduates may not always be sensitive when it comes to form or design languages.


At the end of the day, David, you need to look at this from a stand point of what sort of design career you want to have of the type of products you want to design. If you like to do boutique design work, the likes of Marc Newson or Karim Rashid, then an art school approach is for you. If you prefer are more commercial approach like working for brands like Nokia or Philips then a more multi-disciplinary approach will give you the skills you need.

Engineering work is also a good entry point, and creative engineers are in very high demand. But the scope of engineering often focuses on detailed work that considers manufacturing and materials processes. The reason for high math is the amount of calculations required to do those work.

I like to close this post to say that you might like to study the product development process in detail and identify which level you might like to “play” at. In fact there is one other degree you might like to consider which is a business degree in Marketing. At the end of the day though, I personally picked a multi-disciplinary approach simple because I wanted exposure and skills in both marketing and engineering as if I had failed as a designer, at least I would have the skills to move in those other directions!

There is no such thing as a Gphone

Industrial Design
Nov 13, 2007

Introducing the Android Open Platform for Mobile Devices

Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications — all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation. We have developed Android in cooperation with the Open Handset Alliance, which consists of more than 30 technology and mobile leaders including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile. Through deep partnerships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, and others, we hope to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform. We think the result will ultimately be a better and faster pace for innovation that will give mobile customers unforeseen applications and capabilities. Via: Google Blog

Together with Open Social , Google has cleverly moved their game onto a very strategic level. Rather than working and getting the nuts and bolts of an interface or “end product” (ie the Debunked Gphone) to work, they focused on creating a system and moved into owning an infrastructure. They let the other people down the food chain (ie the Social Network sites) worry with the consumers.

In the bygone era, Infrastructure used to be Water, Power, Telecommunications, Sewerage etc (kidding), but on the Internet Google has defined their own. The amazing thing is Google can do this only because their business model and revenue stream comes from a different place. I don’t think any other company would be able to create Open Social or Open Hand Set Alliance if they needed it to make money. The business environment is changing and traditional business practices need to be re-invented. What can we learn as Designers? Try to get as high up the food chain as possible.

Check out the Andriod at the Open Handset Alliance.

The Corporate Designer’s Survival Guide

Design Articles
Nov 07, 2007

A designer in corporate life is not that easy. It does has it pros and cons, but the reality is not only will you have to do good design work, you will have to navigate the corporate ladder as well as all its related traps and pitfalls. Many in-house designers almost wish for the worry free environment of working in a studio where they can just focus on doing the design work. Well worry no more this survival guide is your key to getting ahead!

Before we continue though, I like to state that my use of the term “Designer” here, is in a very broad sense. This is because in-house designers can be actually found residing on many levels or in many roles within an organization. Some examples include:
1) Traditional design types working in in-house studios,

2) A Design manager that relate to stake holders,

3) Project managers who manage design consultants,

4) Product managers with-in marketing departments,

5) R&D engineers who manage innovation,

6) and finally very Senior Managers that problem solve with creative methodologies

Therefore for the sake of this discussion, they will all be clumped together as a “designers”. Furthermore I do hope that this article could provide an interesting perspective should you be a consultant or freelancer that has to work with corporate representatives. This could highlight many considerations that could get in the way of getting your designs approved.

With out further adieu, I present what I think are the fundamental “soft” and “hard” skills a successful corporate designer needs to have to survive the corporate jungle.

Reports to the Top

If a company is serious in successfully implementing and using design as a strategic competitive advantage, it must run its design/creativity think tank from the top. Hence the designer needs to be either at the top or at the very least reporting to the top.

While I understand this is never entirely possible in most corporate organizations, the designer would need to somehow position himself to at least report to a decision maker of some standing. The worst is for a designer to be pigeon holed under the Marketing or Engineering departments. As these departments achieve different functions, it will be likely that designer will not be operating at peak efficiency.

If you are working in a situation where reporting to the top is not possible, then you have to see if the reporting structure can change, of decide if you are happy to be working under such conditions.

Have a Strong working Partnership with the Top

Despite the frivolous nature people often gripe about the Fashion industry, the one thing they have perfected is the management of working relationships with designers and talent. I’m surprised, why we don’t try to learn from that aspect of that industry.

In the recent Fall 2007 Style and Design supplement to Time magazine, one common recurring theme that I found in the business of Fashion is that CEOs of fashion brands are “Partners” with their Creative Directors. This partnership is often highlighted as the reason for the success or failure of any Fashion brand.

Sure like in all partnerships (or marriages?) there are fights and disagreements, but the point here is both partners understand that their’s is a close working relationship and good communications between each of them is vital. Does Steve Jobs speaking to Jonathan Ive many times a day sound familiar? Well they have been doing that in the Fashion industry for many years now.


A successful corporate designer is also a master of anticipation. This is often a result of the 2 above points, which is essentially a great relationship with the person that steers the organization, and the designer involved cleverly puts this information to good use.

The ability to anticipate means the designer is able to understand and combine corporate DNA, senior management’s plans, design trends, and predict or anticipate directions an organization can take. This is especially important when it comes using design as a strategic competitive advantages.

In other words, the designer would have already thought through or researched all possible design strategies so that he can be effective during corporate discussions.

Always Ready to Move

A successful corporate designer that anticipates well, is always ready to move when faced with a new design challenge from management.

It is unfortunate that, despite designers getting in very early in the planning stages, the decision to move in a design direction often comes very late. A good designer that can anticipate well will be ahead of the competition when it is time to move. The market waits for no one.

Keeps busy during down time

In this hurry to wait, wait to hurry environment especially in large organizations, the thing to do in between corporate approvals is to keep at the trend research or development of other project work. This again allows successful corporate designers to be well positioned and prepared when it is time to move.

Gets the buy-in effectively

I’ve written extensively on strategies on getting the buy-in and approvals for your design work. But needless to say this is one of the most import assets of a successful corporate designer. The ability to work with all stake holders, often heads of the different departments, and then develop a product that satisfies all their criteria is of paramount importance.

Do check out my extensive 2 part article on “Why do I always get rejected? 10 Tips on how to get the design buy-in“.

Are Entrepreneurial and Understand that Cost Matters

Many scoff at the idea of being entrepreneurial within an organization, but for successful corporate designers this is a very important trait to have. This simply means, being in the mind set to see business opportunities and having the ability to apply design strategies to take advantage of it.

Not only that, they would also be savvy enough to understand the cost impact their design decisions would make to the organization. Better still, they can turn this design cost into an advantage, by selling their ideas in the language that the business can understand.

Understands that Design should make the Company Look Good, Not the Designer

Finally the successful corporate designers understand that their work is but a cog of a greater system, and design here should not just be about personal expression. He understands that his design is a representation of the organization, its people, its believes and most importantly its brand. It is in reality a much bigger discussion, and should never only be about the design.

Build your own product with Bug Lab’s Open Source Hardware

Industrial Design
Nov 02, 2007


I’m floored. This is not a trick, nor is it a story out of Star Trek, and best of all its not even a concept. Yesterday, November 01, 2007, Bug Labs launched for the first time to the public, pictures of what to me would be one of the biggest break through in platform product design I have seen to date. I have to say the potential of this product will be endless. Bug Labs, run by some very clever people, has an interesting vision where Peter Semmelhack the CEO explains:

Consumer electronics products come to market today in a way that has not changed in decades. Companies employ smart people who try to divine what the majority of their target customers will want to buy, fund massive market research programs, build expensive production lines, execute huge marketing campaigns and the majority of the time fail to achieve their objectives (see “Innovator’s Solution”, Christensen, “The Change Function”, Coburn).

On Monday, NY Times reporter G. Pascal Zachary wrote an article that succinctly points out where this trend originated – “There is an unbroken line between Henry Ford (with his Model T) and Steve Jobs. The new iPhone similarly reflects the elite, corporate innovator’s drive to find one size that fits many.” It’s an expensive, wasteful model for everyone involved – producers, suppliers, customers and last but not least, the environment.


This product, which I suppose follows along the same lines as the corporate vision, is just called BUG:

BUG is a collection of easy-to-use, open source hardware modules, each capable of producing one or more Web services. These modules snap together physically and the services connect together logically to enable users to easily build, program and share innovative devices and applications. With BUG, we don’t define the final products – you do.


Essentially you first start with a Lego type product (The BUGbase), where by you then mix and match different components (BUGmodules: LCD screen, GPS, Speaker, Teleporter etc.) to build a product that you want or need. This basically throws out of the window the whole marketing problem of consumers asking “Why do I need to pay X dollars more for a feature on a product I don’t need?”.

Wait! There’s more.

The system is smart enough that it would continue to work with each and every new module that comes out. This BUG’s ability to be upgradable and scalable, means complete customization and offers amazing product longevity. I guess I don’t need to highlight the importance of such a product’s (small) impact on the environment and its nod towards fostering sustainable behaviours? Not only that I can imagine the BUG will be a marketers dream as the practice of identifying a target market and/or predicting consumer behaviour will be less important in the equation as mass customization it truly around the corner. We have come very far from our first solution of mass customization, the dinky interchangeable mobile phone covers.

Modular Series Entertainment System

As with many designers, I have played with a modular concept like this for many years and thus this product is very close to my heart. What started as a Teen fashion PDA with interchangeable accessories, my Red-Dot winning Modular Series Home Entertainment Concept is essentially the same idea but centred around audiophile system separates instead. They have succeeded where we have failed. Well done, and by god how I would love to work for a company like this!

Via: The always Crunchy Tech Crunch