How do you see design as being different from art?
They are identically the same, and if they disagree with that, it’s just semantics.
What constraints do you have as an industrial designer as opposed to other designers?
The products I generally do are used by humans, and usually are scaled to that size. They need to hold up things. They need to work and sell. They need to ship. They need to be built. There’s just a lot of variables involved. For a graphic design or a web page, for example, it’s a lot more straightforward as far as what it can physically do or not. Nobody’s going to be sitting on a website, or you don’t ship it across the U.S. in a trailer and hope it doesn’t get damaged. They both have huge constraints, it’s just with product design and industrial design, they all just collide at once. There’s graphic design on the products. There’s mechanical design in the products, and architectural design in the piece as well.
What should the next generation of designers be thinking about?
It’s going to be more of a lifestyle that you have, and you get compensated for it, hopefully. Do what you want to do and not what you think others want you to do. Have high ambitions and high goals.
How does education play into that?
Education is the only time you’re going to freely express your product design or art truly, and I think students lose sight of that and start listening to their teachers. I don’t know if you could ever fail at an art school, but I think people think you can — that’s the odd part. If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing the envelope – you’re not trying. If you’re failing because you didn’t do enough, that’s one thing, but if you think you might fail because you tried something too weird or too far out there, that’s good.
Should designers bring that fearlessness to the job as well?
I’ve made a pretty nice studio out of failing pretty hard, and it works well. When you fail a lot, and it’s an open failure, clients respect that, and you sort of share in what happened. Then you know what doesn’t work, and you know what really can work. I don’t really do anything mediocre. It’s either really awesome or really terrible. It’s like Evil Knievel: He either makes it or he doesn’t. You can’t skip over the tops of the buses.
Going forward, how do you see the future of industrial design?
There’s just so much that we’ve got access to. You put something online and it goes viral immediately. Privacy is pretty much gone; it’s an open-source environment, so the speed of things is going really fast. I think things are culturally changing really quickly, and I don’t think designers have their eyes opened yet.