• Interview Excerpt: David Fellah, CEO + Co-Founding Partner, Designit, Copenhagen

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    What kinds of portfolios get your attention these days? What brings in an industrial designer for an interview?

    If they are right out of school, then we are only looking for talent. It doesn’t matter if they have experience or not, talent matters the most. We have a philosophy in hiring people at Designit that transcends everything, and that is our employment mantra: chemistry, chemistry, competence. To us collaboration is everything, especially because we are so globally dispersed—just in Denmark we have two offices. We need to be able to work across cultures, across time zones, across language barriers—so the chemistry has to be right. We need to have a perfect chemical balance between the people. That’s more important than anything, than talent, than experience.

    How do you define someone who has talent?

    You’re a product designer yourself, so you know what I mean. When you look at portfolios you know by the “handshake”—by the first pages of the portfolio. You just get that feeling. It’s so intuitive for us. You sense the level of craftsmanship and the conceptual strength in a split second and whether this particular talent’s style fits into the Designit way of designing.

    You mention chemistry and cultural fit. What kind of a person would work well for Designit?

    It’s all about how you fit within our cooperative culture. The way you look, the way you talk, what your handshake is like—it’s a delicate, but actually rather simple assessment to make. Within our frame of reference there are few clear giveaways if you’ll be able to contribute in our group process. Some of those are visual, like your personal style. Is your appearance dominating and are you trying to stand out instead of trying to be a part of the group? It’s hard to explain, but we are all able to interpret these signals. We then know if this person, with this kind of appearance and attitude, will fit into our “it’s-not-about-me-it’s-all-about-the-project” process successfully.

    What characteristics or qualities would you say make a successful designer?

    We moved away from the “classic product design.” Everything we do has a technological component, not necessarily inside the product but maybe it is tied into some kind of service. As soon as you talk about a technological component, you’re talking about connectivity, or something that’s a part of a different set of opportunities. So you need to know that a product designer has to understand more than just ergonomics, or standard beautification tools. A product designer today needs to understand everything else in the complete horizon of design disciplines surrounding a product. Everything from understanding that this product at some point has to become part of a brand, has to be able to fit into a packaging concept, and so forth. Product designers nowadays are much more multi-skilled, or multi-understanding than we would think was important 10 years ago.

    [ … ]

    If you were just starting out now, what advice would you give yourself?

    We have learned a lot along the way, but we haven’t done anything specifically wrong. I would say, stick to the design business because we tried other business adventures alongside, and none of them succeeded. So, spend your energy on design. Other than that, I can’t say, “If only we had known this or done that.” Maybe I would say that I wish we all had more experience from somewhere else so that we knew about product management before we started, but in the long run those are details. I mean, the reason why we’ve got Designit is because we’re the kind of guys who aren’t employable anywhere else.

    [ … ]

    David Fellah of Designit. Photo by Morten Koldby.

    David Fellah of Designit. Photo by Morten Koldby.


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