Chicago designers Maria Lalli and Nate Lynch met with me in Maria’s beautiful apartment. (That’s a Charlie Harper illustration behind them.) Having all three served time at the Bullseye, we briefly reminisced on those fast, fun and friendly days when speed was life. Today, Maria is working at a Chicago design consultancy (and possibly releasing some personal jewelry designs in the future!) and Nate is founder of theNate.com, a strategic design consultancy. With my recent bargain, a Griffin iTalk for eleven bucks off Amazon, Maria and Nate shared their experiences and thoughts on being a designer.
Me: So just for some background information; where did you go to school?
Nate: University of Cincinnati, industrial design.
Maria: Same thing.
Nate: That’s how we know each other.
Me: How long has your design career been going?
Nate: Since birth… No, actually, I count at when I started interning. So 7 years I guess.
Maria: Our school has a co-op program; each year in school you also have a job.
Nate: Yeah, you spend three months at school and then three months at work. So you end up with six three-month internships.
Me: Wow. What do you think was the most invaluable thing you got from those internships that you wouldn’t have learned in school?
Maria: I was able to compare a corporate design experience to a consultancy environment and found where I felt most comfortable. Also, just knowing what goes on in the workplace, how designers interact with other members of a team, the variety of ways ideas become products — those were the kinds of things they can’t teach you in school.
Nate: A year before I was set to graduate, the economy took a dive and the job market began to crash. Much like it’s doing right now. I was working for a firm in Boston, and they had to lay off a handful of people. I didn’t lose my job as an intern, but it was an eye opening experience talking to my now-unemployed coworkers. I no longer had an idealized view of my profession. I think it prepared me more for the realities of my soon-to-be post graduate life than any of my academic experiences. From that point forward I made it a priority to have a greater understanding of the business of design, something that has helped me maintain a balanced approach to every project I encouter with my own strategic design consultancy.
(above: portable projector from theNate.com)
Me: What results do you really strive for with your design?
Nate: I’m very user focused. I’m not a form wizard, but I’ll try to make things look aesthetically appropriate. If something doesn’t need to look super-futuristic, then I don’t think it should.
Maria: My work is almost always tailored the clients needs. But for myself, sustainability is very important. So whenever I can bring that to the project I do.
Me: How did you find out about the Deceptive Design show?
Maria: I taught for a year at the Art Institute, and Helen Marie Nugent told me about it. Then it was listed at IDSA.
Nate: I saw it on IDSA, and I’m always looking for ways to collaborate.
Me: What was the process like while working together?