Join Scott Clear for an in-depth discussion in this video Another expert view on specialization, part of Industrial Design Foundations.
- In the design world, there's many design disciplines that you can choose for your design career path, and today we're going to talk about transportation designer and product designer, and with us we have Nadya Arnaout, and she is the founder of Eon Product Design Group, and they focus on aviation, automotive, and product. And so, Nadya, I really appreciate you joining us today. - Thanks for having me. - So, tell us, how did you even get started in design from the beginning? - Well, I wasn't really sure for a long time what my career path would be.
I was always interested in art, loved math, kind of a weird combination to find something that really matches those two skill sets. I actually had friends that brought me onto the path of design. And so, once I heard about that job description, I actually got really interested in it, did a lot of research, and I applied for a few internships, because I wanted to see what the job would be like, and what kind of skills that you need to have for it.
And then, I applied at a design school. - Well, it was smart that you did the internship first. You could've been an architect. - I know. - So, when you started school, which path did you take, as far as your design choices, and why? - So, I was always interested in product design. Even back in my days, they had already transportation design as a separate field, but I was always interested in product design, just because, to me, that was more tangible, it was something, you know, that I really enjoyed.
I actually, you know, all the products around us are a day to day influence on our lives, so I was always interested in making the day to day life better, and easier on people. And prettier. So, that was my push to do it. - Now, you transitioned in a time where wasn't that common to go from product to transportation. How did that happen? How did you get into that? - Well, that was kind of a fluke. I never really, you know, was into transportation design that much, didn't really know I had a skill for it either.
At the time, I had worked at a product consultancy, and this consultancy was owned by BMW, and they had a transportation portion, and then our consultancy portion, and so at some point they were short on designers, and had asked the product side if we were interested in participating on some of their projects, and help sketching up some new ideas. So, I actually was one of the designers that volunteered to try out automotive, and it kind of took off from there.
- When you take on anything new, where do you find your inspiration before you start execution? - So usually, I look into everything out there. So, it's art, it's architecture, it's music, it's fashion. You know, anything out there, it goes to magazines. I usually try to cut out little examples of what I like, or what I think is appropriate for that project, and then create little mood boards that kind of, you know, get the ideas started.
I tried to do a mood board that actually covers all the different design directions, or themes that I sketch up. - Now, if we look online, there's a lot of really cool videos of you when you are working with BMW, and you're part of the first all women design team for one of the BMW vehicles, and so in the video, it shows you doing an end to end process. For those that don't see the video online, can you take us through the end to end that is actually shown in the video, from concept to what was actually shown in public? - Sure.
So usually, the process starts with this inspiration board. Then, you go through the sketch phase. It usually starts out very, very rough, with just line sketches, goes into coloring, goes into more precise renderings, and then from that point on, you go into tape drawings, which actually translate, you sketch from, you know, just an idea into reality, because now you're working over a realistic package, components, and so on.
From that stage, it then goes either into 3D modeling, from that you can go into a clay model that can be mailed out of that. In the olden days, you went directly from a tape drawing to a clay model by hand. Nowadays, technology, you know, has taken over a little bit more, so now it goes directly into 3D, into the clay model, and then that repeats pretty much a few times, the development phases and so on, and then you end up with a hard model in the end, and then that hard model is the model that will get approved for production.
That whole process is actually a competition. So, every designer goes to the end stage of, let's say the sketch phase, there's a review, there's a gate, where actually you get selected to continue, or it's the end of the road, and that gate happens at each one of those steps, so 2D sketches, clay model, and then the final hard model. If you're still standing with your concept, you go into production. - Fun. Can you share any kind of tips or tricks that you've learned from one discipline to the other? Like, is there anything that you used to do as a product designer that you transitioned into transportation, or vice versa? - I think that a product design background actually has helped me in transportation, just because it enabled me to problem solve.
In automotive, you know, creating new ways of how to interact with your audio controls, or is there a better way to do a steering wheel, I think that whole mindset of a product designer really helps to create an innovative product for transportation. - When you're done with your mood board, and before you start putting pen to paper on some executions of some of your design ideas, are there any tips or tricks that you do before you execute? - So, when I first got started in automotive, I really wasn't that experienced yet, I didn't really know the true path at that point in time, so I kind of made myself a little extra tool to understand automotive design better, after I had created my first sketches.
And I was interested myself to see what that would look like in 3D, and if it actually worked the way I had it in my head, so I actually created these little paper models, where I just scored paper, and folded it into the shape that I had drawn up, and actually pinned it up on a board. And I did tons of those, and had a light source that gave me a good light and shadow effect on there, and that helped me actually to understand my sketch in 3D. That was kind of a good bridge for me to get going in that industry that I didn't really have that much experience with.
- When you look at back when you started, design had their individual paths, and things have changed a lot in design as a whole, in all industries, do you see any trends that are happening between product, and transportation, and other design disciplines happening? It's almost a switchover actually. The industry has started to actually pull from designers from the other field, because they see qualities there that are not typical for their industry, and it crosses over well, and gives you a new, fresh look on things, or a new way of doing things.
So for example, and now there's a lot of product designers in automotive, there's a lot of automotive designers in, let's say, shoe design, because they have a really great way of visualizing, and making a product look really sexy and desirable, and the shoe industry actually caught on, and started hiring a whole bunch of automotive designers. So, it has crossed over quite a bit. - There's another little special area in design, in both product and transportation, and you specialize in this area.
How did you get into colors, materials, and finishes, or CMF, as we know it here? - So, that's kind of a big part of interior design specifically, because a color material breakup in the interior can make or break a concept, and if your concept isn't laid out in a way where it can accommodate four different versions of color and trim, Then, you know, it's not going to be as successful. So, I usually try to think about color material breakups really, really early on, and let that evolve in simultaneous path with the development of the actual design, but let that go along side so that, in the end, there isn't a conflict between, you know, a part breakup, material breakup, and so on, so that you actually have the opportunity to have a lot of different versions of color material, different accents, you have an area for an accent, and so on.
So, those are all things you need to think of early on. - If you want to hear more about the CMF part, you can go to the accommodations course on materials, and there's a CMF category, and we can look at that further. When you transitioned from the CMF, to the design, and you're still doing product today, do you have a favorite now? Is there a favorite discipline, or a favorite market that you like to prefer? - I think, from my point of view, I love the variety, and I actually wanted always to become a product designer, just because you get to do a lot of different things.
You can go from furniture, to lighting, to you know, household products and so on. And now, I'm almost doing the same thing, but with industries, instead of just products, so I do like the variety, and I have a hard time picking one over the other. - So, what's next? - Good question. (both laughing) - Well, there you have it. You got a product designer that turned transportation, and it sounds like that it's going to be more common these days. I appreciate you joining us, and doing this class with us.
- Thanks for having me.