One liners

There’s a habit in the world of product design to only concentrate on the object, its design, the supposed environment in which it would be used (think ikea catalogues where the occasional good looking Swedish person will show up to pick up a spoon from a drawer) and not really on it’s use… For example the Cima ladder, featured in my Core 77 feeds today…

Ok it’s a ladder that looks pretty… and it basically forces you to climb… but holy shit i would be scared senseless to try to change a light-bulb with this, forget trying to paint a wall, i can’t steady my feet on the same level. Perception of stability when doing vertically challenging activities is more important than esthetics… so this ladder reduces any possibility of doing anything that’s independent of a wall… which is why I would need a ladder in the first place no? … as for coming “out of the closet and stand proudly in the salon of the house.”, i don’t have that much space to spare.

So when we’re talking about sustainable product design, and using smart materials, etc… can we also perhaps expect designers to come up with designs that are smart and have the potential to be used in more ways than one? In this case provide the same function as the original product and not less. A “No one-liner” policy would be a great start, otherwise we will keep cultivating the egos of aesthetic and material-based designs with poorer functions and uses…


There are days when I find the internet boring. This is one of those days. Part dictionary, part soapbox, part best-way-to-not-get-work-done, part adress book, I’m simply not finding it inspiring right now.
I think I might have to leave it alone for a few days (oh how convenient, I’ll be going to Milan!) and come back to it later.

The importance of working under pressure.

So I got a “No thanks” from the Come out and Play competition in response to my submission. Am I disappointed? Sure, but in a way, at least I got to think about an area I had only vaguely worked on till then: locative games (ill post my game soon promise!).

This is where my ability to work under tight deadlines and with people I like comes in. I know that if I only relied on myself to get a personal project done, it wouldn’t go anywhere… so I submit work for competitions (lately Dave and I worked on a stationary idea for Muji and I just submitted an idea for an interactive display for the town of Baton Rouge, Louisiana for Moment Factory) and for clients.

In times where client work is slow, these competitions force me to keep going, to re-invent what it is that I do, keep me problem-solving for different contexts. The great thing about competitions is that you don’t need to submit your resume to apply, you can decide to work on an architectural competition if you fancy, noone would be there to tell you you can’t coz you’re “just a designer”. Of course it’s not a perfectly honest game to play and, as Matt points out, a good way for companies to get free ideas, but I know at least it’ll never be my last one :)

The art of job ads

“You have to be strong attention to details and tipography and passionate about online design.”

Part of a freelancer’s life consists in inspecting any online job ad that comes by, which can, at times, be quite entertaining. You can always tell, to illustrate the example above, if they have been written by someone in HR who has no clue as to whether their ad sounds credible or not. You feel that writing this must have been like a mini-project: they went around and asked all the “stakeholders” and made a “list of requirements” and end up having to write something that sounds completely unrealistic.

Most of the ones I stumble upon go a little something like this (this is a mashup of several different ads I’ve seen recently, any resemblance to a single one is an accident) :

“_______ is an award-winning digital agency located in the heart of __________. We are looking for a passionate ___________ designer to help us in a rapidly-expanding team. The successful candidate will have plenty of opportunity to work on high profile projects with big consumer brands. ________is a place where all projects are multidisciplinary and each problem has a finite solution. You should be organized, self-motivated, and able to make deadlines and manage multiple projects without breaking a sweat. This position presents a unique opportunity to work in a diverse and gifted creative environment that rewards knowledge, teamwork and ambition.

Skills Required:
– Brilliant design sensibility (color, form, typography & layout)
– Cultural insight and awareness of current pop & lifestyle design trends.
– Proficient in Flash and strong Web design experience
– Proficient in Photoshop and Illustrator
– Proven oral/written communication skills, client interaction, project management skills
– An ability to take initiative and adhere to project guidelines

Skills Preferred (but not mandatory):
– Knowledge of HTML, XHTML, and CSS (web standards)
– Knowledge of AJAX (Javascript)
– Sound Editing
– Animation (Flash, After Effects)
– Familiarity with eCommerce systems
– Familiarity with MySQL
– Moderate to advanced PHP, XML, ASP, .NET
– Brand/Identity design and illustration”

In these bubble-like times I read that it’s difficult for companies to keep their employees, isn’t it obvious why? If you’re hiring under such hypocritical and demanding conditions, no wonder you don’t live up to the employee’s expectations! In a way telling the truth might be a better policy but I’m guessing it would sound something like this:

“__________ is a struggling average group of designers located in the outskirts of ______(we like to use design agency because everyone else is) but we’re only 6 people, and we really need someone to fill in the blanks, do a bunch of different jobs as the work goes by. You might be clocking 80 hours one week and twiddling your thumbs the other, sorry, that’s how things go here. We expect you to roll with things, be great at doing mentally-empty production work for weeks if need be, because we can’t pay interns to do that and the ones we get for free aren’t reliable enough. We can’t retain our clients because the competition is really fierce, so we’re sticking to the few stable huge corporate clients we have, knowing full well our competitors are working with them as well (but not on the same project) . You’ll be paid about a 10th of what we’ll bill the client for your work. That again, is how things go. We do have a kick-ass pool table though! And we hope you live nearby because otherwise you’ll be spending 3 hours a day commuting to get to the office. Do send us an online portfolio so we can compare you with the others we have and bitch tremendously before you never hear from us again”

In a way looking for a job is like a first date, you and them will present themselves under the best light possible, hoping that the honeymoon will last as long as possible, but both totally blinded by love or desperation in the first meetings :)

And yes I hope to remain employable even after posts like these :)