Join Scott Clear for an in-depth discussion in this video Sketching interview with designer Michael DiTullo, part of Industrial Design Foundations.
- In industrial design, there's several disciplines that we need to master and the one that comes up the most that I see regardless of where you are in your career in the industrial design field is sketching, the power of sketching. Sketching is a universal language and it can help you with communicating your ideas, it can help you with communicating your vision with a client, and it helps with collaboration. And, today we're going to talk and we're going to drill down on the importance of sketching and with us today is Michael DiTullo.
Michael DiTullo is a world class designer that's end-to-end. He's been in the industry for several years. He does everything from concept to manufacturing. He's been in agencies, in corporations, and today, he's going to share with us the stories around his sketching experience and what did it mean early in his life and what does it mean today. So thanks Michael, for joining us. - Thanks for having me. - How did you get started in design in the first place? - So, I came from a pretty normal and middle-class family.
There certainly wasn't really much knowledge of design, but I was always just really fascinated with science fiction and the future of things and, it's kind of a weird thing for a kid to do, but I'd come home from school and I'd take out this year's catalog, if you remember what that is, and I'd open to a random page and point at something. Chainsaw, and be like I wonder what the future of the chainsaw would be, and I would draw that. And when my parents asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up, I said I wanted to draw stuff from the future.
I didn't know what design was, but I just thought, that's got to be somebody's job, right? Somebodies got to be in the room thinking, well, what's the next? And what's the next after next? And the next after that? And I just thought intuitively, that's got to be a job, and I want to do that job. Fast forward to a few years later, I was in the back of algebra class in school, in high school, and I'm in the back of the class just drawing furiously. I think the teacher was reexplaining something and I get bored easily like most designers and I didn't hear Mrs. Jacobus just kind of sneak up behind me as she was lecturing.
And all of a sudden, she slapped her hand down on the desk and crumpled up my sketch and said, "Come see me after class!" and so she threw it in the trash and everybody did the classic high school, "Ooooh!" I came to see Mrs. Jacobus after class and she reached down in the trash, she smoothed out my sketch, and she wrote at the top, "Rhode Island School of Design." and she said, "This is where you want to go." At the time, this is the very early 90s, late 80s. There was no Google so she's like, "Write to them, get their catalog, go visit them." That's where I ended up going to school, for industrial design.
That sent me a path. I went to school at RISD and I spent a little bit of time at Domus in Milan and spent a little time at Cleveland Studio of Art. I was doing projects for Nissan and Nike in school. And then when I left school, I didn't really know what I wanted to focus on. That's kind of, I think, a myth in design, personally. But I thought I should probably go work for a consultancy where I could work on a lot of things. And, I worked for a really small, but great, consultancy in Connecticut called Evo and we were doing work for Bose, for Libbey Glass, for Burton Snowboards, for Nike.
And that ability, to sketch on a wine glass in the morning and work on a speaker system in the afternoon, that's where I've cut my teeth and I just thought that's the way it should be. And that really benefited me when I went to large corporations like Nike, later in life. Even though I was a footwear designer and I started my first week and my boss gave me my cards and they said, "Footwear Designer." And I said "Ooh, It can't say that." And he's like, "What do you mean?" And I'm like "Nah, I'm not a Footwear Designer. "I'm a designer. I work for a company that makes footwear." And while I was there, I worked on footwear.
I worked on branding, bags, apparel, retail displays, just because I have that mindset of, if you can think it and you can communicate it, you should be able to design it. And that's been kind of an empowering statement that's just kind of have let be my guiding light.