Join Scott Clear for an in-depth discussion in this video Case study of an actual designer, part of Industrial Design Foundations.
- In this movie, we're going to drill down a little bit deeper on what industrial design is by talking to one of the world-leading industrial designers and get his take and experiences on his last 30 years. With me today is Lance Hussey. He is the Chief Creative Officer at RKS Design. Welcome. - Thank you. - Thanks for joining us. So Lance, how did you even get started? What was the path or entryway when you were a young lad? And how did you get into design? - Well, like many people, I didn't really know what the profession was, but I knew I had some creative element in me.
I liked to work with my hands. I had an appreciation for art, design, loosely, because, again, I didn't really know what that was. And literally, when I got to college, I was trying to find my way living on general education. And basically I fumbled into what was an industrial design class. And I just realized, whoa, this is exactly what is me. I didn't know it existed. Ironically, I was looking at design magazines in the library not realizing that there was a profession.
And I was drawn to that, so I just fell into it. And it was just the right spot. - So right after you got your degree and you studied design, you've been around for quite awhile and you've seen quite a few things happen from almost 30 years ago to where things are now. You probably have some thoughts on where things are going. Can you give us an ... What was it like to work in a design agency almost 30 years ago? And then what's it like today? - Good question. It's interesting. A lot of the things are the same but very different.
Of course, when I started out, joining RKS at the time, we were three or four people. And so it was very much a small shop dealing with entrepreneurial clients that, we weren't working with the big clients yet. You were using a lot of the same tools that you are now except they were in their infancy. I was on the forefront of when CAD came on to the scene. And I, actually, was the person in the office that went to Colorado to get trained on these UNIX systems and advanced modeling software.
Literally, it was engineering software. The design tools in it were very rough, because it wasn't a holistic program like you have today. Now you have programs that can do a lot of things, because they're considering a much bigger, broader envelope. So CAD, I think that was our differentiator. As a small company, we knew we wanted to grow and become something great. We knew we had to do it by going to the leading edge of where things are going. It started out sketching, markers, hand-rendering, all of the same things that are done throughout the process.
Even today we still do all of that, except nowadays, our lens of what our capabilities are has grown enormously, starting from bringing strategy and research on a while back and really seeing through a consumer's eyes, understanding the whole model of, it's not just about a product, it's about the whole system, and the whole infrastructure, and how everything reacts to everything else. That's relatively a new idea in the scheme of things. What are the tools that we brought on? Like I said, the fundamentals of what you do is the same, but you're considering a lot more detail and subtleties to things.
And your designing in a much more balanced way. I think when I started out in the early days, it was more about designing something that looked really cool, but you didn't think through all the ergonomic and functional elements. Now, everything is considered very holistically. - So it sets a great segue into kind of the things that have probably happened in just the recent decade, the new disciplines and what's happening with design. Can you expand on the type of team members you have and how that's changed things recently? - Sure, so opening up that lens of considering more aspects and design, user experience and user interface have become huge.
It's become kind of a key integral part whereas in past projects, pastimes, you may not even get into that spot. That was handled by someone else. But now, it's pretty seamless, our thought process, in terms of the product and/or the interface, they just go hand in hand. We have to design that full experience all the way through. So our ability to, right out of the get-go, start thinking about the use-case scenarios and role playing all of the different aspects of how you need to interact with this product.
And we see the interface as the product too. So it's not about just a thing, it's about a complete experience. So that's something, that's almost every project, we're doing interface on now. And so in the past five years, our demand for that has just skyrocketed. It's just embedded in everything. - Can we talk a little bit about, maybe, your process, your approach to things? We'll use, maybe, one of the RKS projects that were a big success was the KOR ONE water bottle. Can you kind of walk us through that and the processes that you implemented? - Sure, and that was also, that was kind of like a changing time where consumers were becoming more aware of the environment.
So it was on the forefront for a "water bottle company," which we very smartly positioned them away from just the product, because it's like, "Oh, we make water bottles." No, this was about hydration and the preciousness of water, which still continues to this day. So in terms of process, I mean, we really kind of stepped back from the fact that at that time, everything was pretty much, if there was a water bottle out there, it was gear. It was camping.
It was very utilitarian. There was nothing that was empowering that, "Hey, I want to bring water along and it's not in anything "that's very aspirational, that you really want to carry." So we recognize that that was just the beginning of this hole in the market, where consumers needed to carry, and wanted to carry, hydration. And so that was a great project where we could really think about it from the ground up and celebrate the processes, the materials, not just for the sake of that but just because we could create something very new and innovative that didn't exist, especially in that product.
We forged the DNA of the brand, which revolves, on the product side, around this halo, which surrounds the capsule of water. Key materials were very important in that product the Triton material, which gives you this glass-like quality. So it wasn't like plastic water bottles, which you didn't really have any value for. This looked more like perfume or crystal. And so it was great to be able to bring the level up, in terms of product development and design.
And so just the integration materials, it's pretty sophisticated, multi-material product. - So one of the things that we've been trying to communicate early in this movie is what is industrial design? What does industrial design mean to you today? - It's more about what industrial design isn't. I mean, because it encompasses everything. And I think starting out, day one, it still happens to this day. Nobody knows what industrial design is.
I didn't know what it was. It sounded like industry. And when I was picking that out of the college catalog, I was like, "It sounded like a real job, but creative." That's pretty much my takeaway, but it didn't describe anything to me. So once you understand it, and again, that was much more around kind of a smaller world. But today, I think, industrial design is interesting. And I've had conversations with people, and students, and moms. Their child's interested in either architecture, or industrial design, or whatever.
And I would say that architecture is very specific. But industrial design kind of, it just goes across everything. So I think of industrial design as having no borders, in terms of what influences and what tools are available. It's almost like a lens to look at everything. That's just the way I see it now as things evolve, it's just getting more and more open, and more and more people, and infrastructures, and processes are starting to become part of that process.
So it's getting a really strong foothold. And the demand for designers out there is just doing this right now, because the world knows it can't live without it. And to put quality products out means you need really good thinkers. And you need people like us who really can navigate through that to make sure that consumers get what they need. - Well, I really appreciate your lens, Lance. And thank you for joining us in this movie. And so, again, check Lance out at RKS Design, and you can see a lot of the work that he's done over the last 30 years, and looking forward to hearing what the future holds.
- Yep, thanks, Scott.