Cathal Loughnane and Design Partners

On Tuesday we had our first guest speaker for the CDC module, Cathal Loughnane of Design Partners. One of the first things he said to us was that the company were weak at marketing themselves, but giving a talk to 40 students who are then obligated to go write a blog about you can’t hurt. Just saying.

Cynicism aside, it was a really interesting lecture. Design Partners is a relatively small firm with studios in Bray, Co. Wicklow and San Francisco. It works mainly in the areas of consumer electronics and home wares, but is starting to branch out into the area of consumer medical products.  It sets it self apart in two ways, one being it’s continued heavy use of physical model-making (as opposed to CAD) and it’s focus on creating and maintaining a relationship with it’s clients.

I personally, hate the idea of real model over digital models, but whatever works I suppose.

The body of the talk was about “Design Principles”, without going into huge detail, my takings from them were were:

  • Story: Have a point to the product, don’t just create it for the sake of having your face in the market, otherwise it’ll just get lost in the competition
  • Magic: Have something  about the product that makes people say “Oh, that’s really cool/clever/etc.” (I don’t know how to get this across, but in my head that’s said in a kind of surprised way)
  • Invisible: If the customer doesn’t need to see it, don’t let them. Why let the laws of physics stand in your way?
  • Mastery: Pick a skill and be really good at it. Specialize, have something that you can say, “That’s my thing”
  • Flawless: Go for perfection, and be disappointed with anything less (from yourself). Be hyper-critical (again of yourself, and not, say, eyelash curlers?).
  • Generous: Give the customer more than they expect. (The surprise thing in Magic works for this too)

The lecture also made the idea of “Portfolio” seem more possible. To now, the whole concept has just been a terrifying word with a horrific amount of work attached  As you may have noticed, the portfolio section of this site that I went through all the trouble of setting up (with subcategories and everything), is completely empty. This is hopefully changing as of tomorrow.  There were slides of portfolios from accepted candidates and, whilst they were fantastic work, I definitely looked at them and felt, with a bit of effort, I could do that.

This post has been far too positive and it just doesn’t feel like me, so I’m going to throw in that my right leg went dead at one point and I sat there in a moderate amount of pain for about an hour.


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