Check out some great work from Ronald Lewerissa.
AH: What kinds of portfolios get your attention these days? What brings in an industrial designer for an interview?
RL: The quality of the work. What triggers me usually is when I see enough skill and craftsmanship in the work. Their imagination is very important—their creativity. Also because strategically, we are looking at designers more and more as design thinkers, I truly hope to find that skill in young designers as well. Those are basically the three most important elements that we are looking at in portfolios.
AH: You mentioned “design thinkers.” Can you elaborate?
RL: I see many designers who find solutions for non-existent problems. They are creating products that miss a certain relevance. What I mean with design thinking is that there’s a very broad consensus that people trained as industrial designers are capable of tackling all kinds of problems that are not necessarily related to physical objects. They can tackle all sorts of problems because they are trained to think from a problem to a solution. That’s a different way of thinking than what people do in physics, mathematics, etc. We feel that the new generation of designers should be very skilled in that way of thinking. Not necessarily to just design physical products but to tackle all kinds of problems that we see in society.
AH: Have you seen a portfolio recently that exemplifies that, or one that really caught your eye? Can you share a bit about what stood out?
RL: I see quite a few portfolios that focus on scenarios that could be solutions for sustainability, for instance. They’re not necessarily looking for what’s the best material to make this product out of, but to develop products that truly change the way people behave around the products. A very obvious scenario could be that you don’t design cars anymore to be owned but you design them for sharing or renting. There’s quite a few students that come up with very innovative solutions for problems like that and they catch my attention.
AH: If you had an opportunity to guide a student in how to create an industrial design portfolio that would resonate for you, what would you tell them?
RL: Make the portfolio look stunning and convince me in an intelligent way that the problems you are trying to solve are relevant. Prove that your solutions work and show that your solutions will or can be recognized in the marketplace.
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AH: If you were starting out now, what advice would you give yourself?
RL: If I were 23 years old now and had to start my own business I would say “use your ability as a design thinker to come up with a different business model than selling hours,” which is what we do today. Be more of an entrepreneur and come up with a truly innovative business model for designers. I think that’s something that we as a profession should start to think about.
You have to stay very true to yourself and try to define what makes you unique as a designer and make it part of your proposition.
I think there’s still great value in smaller groups of designers. I would not want to work on my own. In creative processes you need the input of other people to reflect on work and to utilize all of the different backgrounds, culturally, socially, and in terms of expertise. You have to think about what type of organization really maximizes creativity, openness, and design thinking.
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