Check out some great work from Fritz Frenkler.
AH: What kinds of portfolios get your attention these days? What brings in an industrial designer for an interview?
FF: We are an international studio, looking for talented people who are able to work in a team. We look to find young people who are able to work in multidisciplinary teams, to work hard and not just sketch, because bringing the product into the market is a difficult task. Still a lot of young designers think they can be a star designer immediately, but from my point of view, all star designers are not designers—they are artists. As far as I know, there are few schools and universities where you can get an experience learning about multidisciplinary teamwork. Nevertheless, there are still some young designers who can work in a team, who are intelligent and do not only believe in what they already know. It is important that they are able to learn something during the process. Those designers are hard to find.
AH: Would you say that there is plenty of talent out there, but not enough industrial designers who can work in a team environment?
FF: I think first of all, there is a wrong understanding about design outside the industry. In different societies and different countries there are different ideas of design. Design is very hard and detailed work. Design is not fine arts. Design is engineering, research, understanding and setting up developing processes—not just sitting in a beautiful environment and making nice colored sketches or renderings. I don’t believe it is important to operate a computer for design, because the computer is mainly needed for presentation. You don’t need a computer for developing products. Since we started to use computers in the fields of industrial design and architecture, the design quality has decreased. Therefore, I need employees who understand proportion, usability, and ergonomics, but first of all who understand people and their culture and society.
AH: What are some common mistakes you’ve seen students or junior designers make in their portfolios?
FF: The lack of consistency in quality of work throughout the portfolio is usually the most common mistake. I hold a view that good design and good design projects primarily result from a strong idea and the consequent pursuit of this idea. Most portfolios don’t show this consistency neither within single projects nor throughout the whole portfolio.
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AH: What would you say it takes to be a successful industrial designer?
FF: I think you have to be able to moderate processes. Of course the problem is that designers have enemies in companies—we don’t have many friends. The marketing likes to do our job, engineers believe they are the better designers—but to break the ice, designers have to moderate the process of product strategy and product development. Designers have to do this because nobody else can do it—engineering is naturally related to technology, marketing is related to markets, but design is the only one related to people.
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AH: If you were just starting out now, what advice would you give yourself?
FF: First, patience. Always trust yourself, study the history of design, study the process of developing products, and learn from it. Don’t believe that today’s new media and new technology can help us to create better products—this is nonsense. We have to understand the change of societies and the new needs of the people. This is the way to make companies successful.
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