• Interview Excerpt: Rhys Newman, CEO + Co-Founder, OMATA, Los Angeles

    Check out some great work from Rhys Newman.

    Interviewed while Rhys was the Director of Advanced Design at HERE, a Nokia Company in Calabasas, California. 

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

    A lot depends on which school or company the designers are coming from. The work that catches our attention is of a designer who thinks about the context in which their product lives, the consequences of their design, and the behaviors and experiences that emerge around their products. Designers who think more broadly, beyond their chosen discipline, that blur the boundaries between hardware and software, digital and physical, intrigue us. The best portfolios are the ones that start a good discussion, and show the designer as a designer, but also a prototyper, an entrepreneur, a strategist, a visionary, and a bloody great storyteller.

    Have you seen a portfolio recently that really stood out? What about it caught your eye?

    Last summer we had an intern who presented his Kickstarter project. He had an idea, a vision of what it could be, and he translated that idea into a tangible and fully working prototype. It was incredible. He made it work from a mechanical point of view and from a software point of view. He also had that entrepreneurial spirit to get an interest and investment. Somebody with that level of ambition, and competence to make things work with an entrepreneurial edge, got him the internship. He was so good to have in the studio, really nice, really clever, and provocative. Thanks, Jeff!

    What do you expect to learn from a designer during an interview?

    Our studio is a creative and happy place to be, and I believe it’s like this because of a shared ambition and culture that is relatively simple: “We collectively make our projects better”––which means “no dickheads.” I expect and respect an open and collaborative culture, one where there is a collective responsibility, and a mutual respect for each other’s strong opinions. What we look for is someone who shares this vision and these values. Obviously, you want someone who has the skills, you want them to be someone with a drive, with an attention to detail, with an ability to communicate, but above all a point of view. I believe it is important to like the people you’re working with. Brilliant things are made by brilliant teams, not individuals.

    [ … ]

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

    I should’ve been more diligent in cataloguing the work I’ve done. I should’ve traveled more, taken more risks, and trusted my intuition. Oh, and should’ve done a second degree in something completely different. Still time for that one.

    [ … ]

    Rhys Newman of OMATA

    Rhys Newman of OMATA



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