Designing is collaboration – interview with IDEO’s Charlota Blunárová
This post originally appeared on blog.up.co
Interviewed by: Martin Andrle
Image credits: Charlota Blunárová, Instagram: @lotka_
A designer is usually a "jack-of-all-trades" who does not only understand the importance of customer experience, but also knows marketing, code and products. They are an indispensable part of startups but many times, because of their broad responsibilities, it's difficult to comprehend what it is that they do. That is why we took a moment to talk with Charlota Blunárová, visual communications intern at IDEO, to understand the role of designers in teams.
- Charlota, thanks again for giving us the possibility to catch up with you and introduce your wonderful life story with the Startup Weekend community.
As long as I know you made incredible shift from being a photographer and illustrator to become a multidisciplinary designer, currently interning at IDEO, one of the best design companies in the world. On that way from Brno you stopped by in Pearlfisher, London, another world class agency. Could you tell us how all these things happened?
Well, my background is an industrial design. I’ve always been interested in relationships between people and objects and I thought studying industrial design would be interdisciplinary enough to keep my curiosity satisfied… But along the way I fell in love with all things visual, started freelancing as a graphic designer, then I started my business as a wedding photographer. This year has been pretty busy so far - I decided to make it sort of my gap year, but dedicated to learning. I’m doing rounds as an intern in different countries, to learn and experience as much as possible about design culture and how to become a better designer. At Pearlfisher London I worked mainly as a 3D designer, I did a lot of packaging design, at Q Designers I was half a graphic designer, half a product designer. Right now I am a visual communications intern at IDEO, an amazing place which allows me to to continue questioning the world as it is today and designing for what the future can be. So, long story short, right now I would call myself a designer-generalist.
- Who is a designer for you? How would you define her role in teams/projects and are there any desirable skills?
The specific skills of actual jobs may vary by different field, but I think the work of designers share many essential features. The designer must be capable of receiving the most important information from his teammates, such as engineers or marketers, and make decision upon them. It’s a collaborative role, there is no such a thing as a work in isolation. Also I believe where the magic happen is a team where everyone thinks a bit like a designer, collaborate, share their knowledge and expertise and are included in all parts of a design process.
- I simply love the statement from your website. “I design because I have a desire to create products and experiences that impact people's lives positively and resonate emotionally”. What does that mean for you? Are you following it in your design process or how does it influence your design?
I simply want to create meaningful work. I try to choose projects based on positive impact they can make. I’ve worked on a large variety of projects in the past, and I’ve always tried to fit into one of these boxes: to be a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator… At some point I realized that I don’t aim for an exact job title or expertise. I’d rather be a generalist with a skillset I can bend for each project, but I always want be confident that we create something valuable and useful.
- What kind of questions one should ask when she is creating a new product and ultimately a new business?
I would say, aim to create products/service desirable by people, feasible to produce, and viable as a business. I believe it is about balancing of desirability: do they want this?
Feasibility: can we do this?, and viability: should we do this?.
What problem will this help to solve? Will this solution fill a need? Will it fit into people’s lives? Is the technology needed to power the design solution available? Who will pay for this and why? The most basic questions, but also the hardest ones.
- You have experienced working in startup and to say it publicly pretty successfully. You ended up on 2nd place in one of the Czech accelerator with your game design studio. Could you tell us more about this experience?
I joined a start-up focused on gamification right after high school. It was a big learning experience - I have had an unique opportunity to work with team of talented, smart, hard-working people and got my hands-on some interesting projects for several companies in scopes of design, consultancy or even full-scale solution. At that time I didn’t know much about anything, and I this accelerated my will to adapt to a fast paced environment and learn quickly.
- Perhaps little bit silly question but what advice would you give to younger yourself? Except attending the startup weekend of course.
I always used the sentence “I’ve never done this before.” as an excuse. Now I use it rather as a opportunity to actually face the unknown and try something new. Wish I’ve had this attitude sooner! Also, don’t be afraid of making mistakes, they are learning opportunities. Being afraid to make them is like being afraid to learn something new.
Thank you Charlota!
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