At Playground Global I led or supported design programs for 8 consumer electronics companies in parallel. In each effort I tailored our work to the needs of each startup, chasing their big ideas while respecting their immediate constraints.
Playground allowed me to do design consulting with skin in the game. Here I was able to maintain the extended intimacy with each company that's required to ensure great products navigate the hard work on product development. No other consulting arrangement exists where one design team can work in daily, same-office contact with half a dozen product companies.
This role worked just as intimately with CEOs and VCs as it did with designers, engineers, and JDMs in Asia. Leading a design team for startups with a laser focus on shipping demands respect and effort for every discipline in the creative process. Seriously. For almost every program our team touched pitch decks, logo and brand design, industrial design, UI/UX, product design, hardware engineering, design for manufacturing, packaging design, sales meetings, contract negotiation, patent preparation, tech talks, incubator tours, documentation, factory bring-up, and everything else it takes to get from idea to out-of-box-experience.
It was a whirlwind experience in helping as many companies as possible embrace the mantra that real artists ship. I loved it, but then one of those companies convinced me to go native.
The founding designer at Lytro, I was fully responsible for the award-winning designs of revolutionary cameras at an audacious Silicon Valley startup.
I worked tirelessly to manage product design execution across all disciplines, starting with the executive team in forming the strategic product vision. I managed the tactical execution of industrial design, working side-by-side with in-house designers & outside studios, in-house & contract engineers, Asian manufacturing vendors, UI/UX teams, and end users. I also lead accessories, soft goods, packaging design, and supported marketing and operations teams.
Lytro was a special place doing genuinely innovative work and it remains an honor and privilege to have lead design efforts that make dings in the universe.
When award-winning San Francisco design firm One & Co joined forces with leading smartphone manufacturer HTC, I was brought in to help oversee the design execution of flagship products.
I championed the best work from our industrial designers, prepared class-A 3D surface models in Creo and then guided the implementation of those designs through HTC's world-class engineering teams and top-tier suppliers throughout Taiwan and China.
At Apple I was part of an elite 5-man team that worked in tandem with the industrial design team to create new manufacturing processes that pushed the boundaries of how to make beautiful products. When Jony and the ID team wanted to create something that required new, innovative fabrication techniques, they called in our crew.
Our team would take nearly impossible design requirements from the Apple ID studio and kickoff R&D on how to take their ideas into factory-grade, mass-producible realities. We prototyped, cost reduced, and scaled CNC machining (before it was cool), laser cutting, microperforating laser drills, polishing processes; anything that was needed to make sure the final product was as perfect as the designers intended.
I still leverage the world-class experience I gained in manufacturing on a daily basis. My time at Apple, a fluid interplay between the world's best design studio and Chinese factories, was incredibly formative and continues to influence my work.
My first long-term job after earning my mechanical engineering degree from Stanford. I worked with senior in-house manufacturing staff and senior design engineers to develop over two-dozen products including underwater camera housings, LED lighting systems, and battery packs. At Light & Motion I found a place where I could cut my teeth on Pro/Engineer while surfing before work with my colleagues.
In association with the Stanford d.school and its flagship program, Design for Extreme Affordability, I spent a year working with an Ethiopian business to launch an appropriate technology project, the Mighty Mitad, which:
Costs < $1 to produce & sells for $2 retail
Saves $30 a year , about 15% of average rural family incomes
Several thousand units were sold in the first year of production, with many families using the savings to send their kids to school for the first time.