Check out some great work from Jason Hill.
What kinds of portfolios get your attention these days? What brings in an industrial designer for an interview?
When I look at portfolios I want to see not just a shiny oh-look-I-made-a-model or I-did-this-great-Alias-rendering, but I want to see the process of how you got there. The process is the biggest thing for me. What’s the inspiration? What problem are you trying to solve? Are you using some sort of philosophy? Is it driven by manufacturing process or limitations? Is it driven by purely an aesthetic nature? Or are you reinventing something that exists? Are you combining things? How did you get there? Again, the process. Is it inspired by biomimicry and nature, or is it just “I wanted to design a new bike and I wanted it to look cool and it’s made out of plastic”? There are simple things and complicated things. I look for the spectrum of not what you did, but how you did it.
Have you seen a portfolio recently that really caught your eye, and what about it resonated with you?
It was a transportation design portfolio and it was the manner in which it was presented. The format was such that it was just like an existing hardcover book. The designer took examples from the book and redefined each one in his own style, as well as recreated the original designs from the book. He juxtaposed the two together and put forth his own kind of presentation. You’re almost looking at a future book. It was so well prepared, and so deep, it just worked well all around. It had a great narrative alongside really good work. It had a process—you could see all the sketches that were part of the presentation, instead of just final shiny photos of the result.
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Once you bring in a designer for an interview, what do you expect to learn from them?
I am looking for enthusiasm of the process and also whether they are able to quickly and with clear, simple language, describe what the process and the result is. I am also looking for confidence.
What qualities or characteristics are necessary to be a successful designer these days?
They need to have their finger on the pulse of things, but also be grounded in reality. And a good understanding of applications of processes to get to their result.
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If you were starting out now, what advice would you give yourself?
Be open to every and any job. You think your specialty is one area, but if you examine it it’s really your job to figure out what is the benefit of design, no matter what the client or what the product or what the industry wants. What is your value?
Your job is to communicate why design is important and to be paid properly for it. Do not underestimate or undersell the importance of design. The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to charge for what you’re doing.
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