Check out some great work from Brian Kutsch.
AH: What kinds of portfolios get your attention these days? What brings in an industrial designer for an interview?
BK: The portfolios that get my attention these days show thought process and the candidate’s ability to sketch or generate ideas quickly. I look for a really good grasp of the fundamentals or the classic thought process that a student would learn in college. Showing the combination of solid research, ideation sketching, then pulling the strongest designs from the ideation stage into a more finalized product that has a cohesive story behind it, is one way to create a strong portfolio. Ultimately a recent graduate portfolio should showcase thought process and skill.
AH: Have you seen a portfolio recently that has blown you away? What about it stood out?
BK: I have seen a number of portfolios that have blown me away and really appreciate the few that basically check all the boxes well. These portfolios I find are really solid. Overall I haven’t really seen anything that really came out of left field as a whole new approach to things, but for me it’s about finding that special something within a portfolio that will bring someone in for an interview.
AH: Can you share a bit about what made those portfolios “really solid”?
BK: Well, over the past few months I have seen a range of portfolios, but the strongest ones generally seem to come from people that have spent time at the larger brands. The thought process of the way that these bigger brands go about design and creating great product, they’re just really good at checking every single box. They know how to go through the process of problem solving all the way through to product launch.
AH: I’m assuming this also means a level of competency and ability to draw, the technical skills, as well?
BK: Right, correct.
AH: When you say they’ve “checked all the boxes,”what do you mean? What are those boxes?
BK: In-depth research, ideation or sketching phase, problem solving, refinement, refinement again, beautiful renderings, details, technical drawings, product sampling, color and material refinement again, then to a launch strategy.
AH: If you had an opportunity to advise a student on creating a portfolio that would resonate with you, what would you tell them?
BK: Currently I appreciate portfolios that are pleasant to interact with. I would suggest putting the portfolio online so it can be accessed from anywhere. If I can view it easily on my smartphone, even better. Additionally, have a PDF version that can be printed and emailed. An eight megabyte or less PDF file size is preferred. Make sure you showcase your skills clearly. Balance in-depth projects that take five or six pages to explain with some punchy one-pagers.
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