• Interview Excerpt: Harm Hogenbirk and Marc Nagel, Co-Founders, Pilotfish, Amsterdam & Munich

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

    MN: Well, we can draw up the ideal person which can cover the entire process, who in reality doesn’t exist, but what we want to see is somebody who shows strong analytical and research skills, who is able to translate that strong product vision into a result, and who goes further into strong visualization, and in the end into realization. But this of course, is a little bit of a theoretical thing because nobody in the world can fill the whole role of this. What we like to see is somebody who is intriguing us with their story and can actually show that they dove really deep.

    I can give you an example of what we’d like to see from an industrial designer: that he really tried out what he was doing. We see so many renderings and it all looks pretty, it’s all nice, but then we want to see that he tried it out. That he built the prototype, that he tested it, that he met some people, that he did a video to see how these people are reacting to it, a little bit out of the ordinary.

    [ … ]

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    HWH: I’d like to add something. It is of course a very dynamic thing. First, the applicant’s email is already the first screening. We get emails where they say: “Dear frog,” and they continue the story, or “Dear people of Pilotship.” Not careful and disinterested in really what they’re doing, that is already the first screening. Then when you’re looking at the portfolio, that’s the second screening, so that is all fairly normal.

    As the applicant you have it all under control. I would say to the applicants do your homework, and be very dedicated to what you’re trying to reach from the start.

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    AH: What characteristics or qualities are necessary to be a successful industrial designer?

    MN: I think one of the qualities we mentioned already, but I can mention it again, is the ability to translate a vision into a product, or into an experience. It sounds so simple but it’s the most difficult thing.

     HWH: Maybe we can make it even shorter. I think a good designer is very much able to communicate through his design, what are the values of what he is trying to do, of the service, or the product. It’s communication, actually.

    MN: Then of course, he has to master certain tools. Sketching is still essential. This is the quickest way to express yourself. Then you have of course, the tools like 2D or 3D renderings, or build up, these are the tools that these days more or less everybody brings in, but at different levels of expertise there. Usually somebody whose sketching is really good, he’s less good in 3D, but that’s not a problem. If you have a really good sketcher, who isn’t as good in 3D that is okay for us—but less good is if one cannot sketch, that’s the bigger problem in the end.

     AH: Why such emphasis on sketching?

    MN: Because it’s the quickest way to express yourself. Ideally, you are already able in the meeting with the client or workshop to sketch ideas that already show some direction.

    HWH: I think it’s also so intuitive, sketching. On a meeting table with a customer, you can directly show and explore your ideas and product vision, which is impossible with 3D programs. And by sketching, you can come to integrated concepts much more efficiently, because your thinking process is supported by the sketches or your sketches are supporting your thinking process.

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    Harm-Willem Hogenbirk and Marc Nagel of Pilotfish

    Harm-Willem Hogenbirk and Marc Nagel of Pilotfish



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