Design Drive

How one artist steers her creative interests

Talents/Skills: Like any creative professionals, designers sometimes hit roadblocks. Along with sketching and design judgement, Windham says strong on-the-spot problem-solving abilities are necessary. “You must be flexible, open-minded, and think outside the box to find solutions.” Windham also emphasizes the importance of working well with colleagues across disciplines. “Other divisions such as design, marketing, and finance also have their contributions and are stakeholders, so you have to work with them and take into account their concerns and how it relates to the design of the car and whether it pleases the customer.”

Advice for Aspiring Industrial Designers: Making the leap from artist to industrial design can be daunting. “Do your research, ask questions, and find out what career options are available in various fields. Following this path allowed me to do something I love and enjoy.” The industrial design field is a competitive one. Windham advises, “There is a good deal of constructive criticism, so you have to be open-minded to their candid feedback, use what you need and move forward.”

Opportunities for Work: Opportunities abound in the field of industrial design. Career options include exterior designer, focused on elements such as wheels, lights, and mirrors. Interior design is directed toward areas that include screen, audio, heating units, steering wheels, and gear shifts. Exhibit designers work on the environmental and vehicle layout of GM cars at auto shows. Car and trim designers forecast the next coveted colors for the future and ensure that components such as fabric and interior materials are aligned with the overall design.

Best Lesson Learned: Windham cautions against mimicking someone else’s design and says she has learned to stay true to her vision of the product, working to make sure that it reflects the needs of the customer base. She says, “You may think it’s advantageous to copy a designer’s style that is receiving praise or accolades for their work. This may be a missed opportunity to add value to the product.”

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