• Interview Excerpt: Nasahn Sheppard, Divisional Vice President: Product Design & Development, REI, Seattle

    Check out some great work from Nasahn Sheppard.

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

    NS: The portfolios that really catch my attention are the ones that tell really interesting and compelling stories. I’m looking for portfolios from people who can demonstrate in a succinct manner that they understand and can frame the challenge, how they approached and solved that challenge, and what their solution was. Design is so often about good storytelling. I think that young designers forget this.

    AH: Has there been a portfolio that you’ve seen recently that resonated with you? What about it stood out?

    NS: There was a portfolio I saw not too long ago. What they did really well was that, in a couple of pages, they explained who they were, what their philosophy was, where they had come from, and their journey to become a designer. It gave a little bit of a context and it made me feel like I understood this person even though I had never met them. When they showed a project, it was very clear what the challenge was they were trying to solve for, from the problem statement to some of the key steps they took to answer that particular problem.

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    Then they showed a thoughtful solution. The best part was they did all this in just a few clear and focused pages. I didn’t have to read volumes of information. Ultimately, it gave me everything I needed to know that they actually understood what the challenge was and created a solution that fit that challenge.

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    AH: What qualities or characteristics are necessary for a designer to be successful and maintain their career?

    NS: That’s a really interesting question because I think this is constantly changing. Some of the baseline qualities that are really important are inquisitiveness, empathy, passion, and flexibility. Design challenges are forever changing and the nature of our business is changing in really interesting and exciting ways. Ultimately, to be successful regardless of the challenge someone needs to be able to break down complex challenges into smaller parts, and then rebuild those parts into a clear and focused solution that is meaningful to people and our clients’ business. Those kinds of characteristics have longevity regardless of what happens in the industry.

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    Nasahn Sheppard

    Nasahn Sheppard of REI


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