Introducing Caitlin McCulloch

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: AN INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCT DESIGNER
CAITLIN MCCULLOCH

Having graduated from the University of Leeds with a first class Master’s degree in product design, it is clear that Caitlin McCulloch has considerable design talent. We were delighted when she joined the Simple Design Works team in 2018.

We put Caitlin under the spotlight so that we could to know her a little better…

Q. HOW DID YOU GET INTO DESIGN?

Caitlin: “I was always really creative from an early age. After my International Baccalaureate, I studied product design at the University of Leeds. I’ve also worked in-house previously, in a more engineering-focused role. I enjoyed the detail and thought process involved, but the role didn’t exploit my creative skills. 

I started looking for a role in product design, rather than product engineering.  My role at Simple Design Works provides a good balance between creativity and engineering.”

Q. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR CAREER IN PRODUCT DESIGN?

Caitlin: “I really enjoy finding solutions to things, and the satisfaction when you finally come up with a product that looks good – it’s really rewarding.”

Q. WHAT IMPRESSED YOU ABOUT SIMPLE DESIGN WORKS AS A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER?

Caitlin: “It was actually the friendliness and approachability of Kristo and the Simple Design Works’ team. I find if you have a great atmosphere at work it really helps your creativity. It’s also fun! I’m a firm believer that work should be enjoyable. You work harder and you work longer.”

Q. DOES YOUR EXPERIENCE SO FAR LIVE UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS?

Caitlin: “It’s certainly very friendly. I quickly started working on design projects, meeting clients and feeling that I’m adding value.”

Q. WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Caitlin: “I love finding clever solutions to problems, for example using something that’s been created to solve one problem and using it in a completely different application or way.  For example, my father is always losing his glasses so I took the idea of a wrap-around ‘slap’ bracelet, the sort that snaps around your wrist, and put it on the arm of his reading glasses.

Now he can ‘snap’ his glasses to his wrist, instead of putting them down, and can always have them with him.

I’m also interested in the natural environment. I’ve designed a herb book, that’s shaped like a concertina, with all the herbs and soil integrated into the sheets of the book. You simply water it, and it sprouts in a beautiful display. It’s great as a table top herb garden, without the mess of having to deal with soil, plant pots and tools!

On the gardening theme, I’ve designed a double-layered paper coffee cup with an eco-twist. It includes seeds in the external sleeve layer with no plastic parts. So instead of throwing the cup away, you can plant it in your garden – or if you do throw it away, the cup will eventually disintegrate, and if given the chance, sprout wild flowers.”

Q. OK TIME FOR SOME FUN QUESTIONS. IF YOU RULED THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOP PRIORITY BE?

Caitlin: “Implement compulsory naps during the work day.”

Q. WHAT WOULD YOU PUT IN ROOM 101?

Caitlin: “I don’t like the smell of fresh oranges and clementines so they have to go into room 101. Although I might have to bring them back as I love orange juice!”

Q. IF YOU HAD ANY SUPERPOWER WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Caitlin: “I’d love a superpower! Hard to choose…teleportation…or maybe to live the whole of my life, then go back to my favourite age and become immortal…or perhaps to be an animal shape-shifter with the ability to fly…or the ability to be able to change my super power whenever I wanted (is that cheating?!)”

Q. IF YOU COULD MEET ONE FAMOUS PERSON, ALIVE OR DEAD, WHO WOULD IT BE?

Caitlin: “Maybe not someone famous but I’d like to meet my future generations/great grandchildren whom I would otherwise not get to meet. Or I’d like to meet my great-great grandmother and ask about all the family secrets!”

Q. FAVOURITE TIPPLE

Caitlin: “Easy, classic G&T.”

Q. IF YOU HAD A RACEHORSE WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT?

Caitlin: “Dashing Dora!”

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Introducing Mark Hayden

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: EXPERIENCED DESIGN ENGINEER, MARK HAYDEN,
JOINS THE DESIGN TEAM

We’re increasingly asked to help manufacturers which is why we asked experienced production engineer Mark to join the design team.

Mark has considerable experience of working on both sides of the design fence in industrial design and CAD.  He’s commissioned work from external agencies (whilst operating as a senior production engineer) as well as developed CAD designs whilst working as an in-house designer.

His broad skills and commercial understanding of the product development process make him an excellent new resource for our expanding client base. We wanted to find out more about what makes him tick – and to shed light on his hidden talents – so we put Mark under our interview spotlight…

MARK, TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU BUILT UP YOUR CURRENT WIDE-RANGING BUSINESS EXPERTISE?

Mark: “When I started work as a production engineer it was the ‘80s – work was fluid, different opportunities arose – so I gained lots of experience in different work departments, doing a wide variety of jobs. I survived a few companies that downsized and had to pick up an overspill of different types of work. This taught me resourcefulness, especially how to adapt to different skills quickly, and how to manage and prioritise a busy job load – perfect for my role at Simple Design Works!”

HOW DID YOU GET INTO DESIGN?

Mark: “I started my working life as a draughtsman, at that time draughting on a drawing board. My first experience of CAD was back when windows were running on DOS – it was a very different animal to what it is today. Coming from this background of using pencils and rulers, it is fantastic the scope and flexibility that CAD brings.  I consider CAD an art, more than a skill.”

“The difficult part of a traditional drawing, of course, is that you can’t change things. Once you’d put ten hours into a drawing it would be much more difficult to incorporate a design change – other than going ‘back to the drawing board’. I learned how to pre-plan my drawings in considerable detail. Draughtsmanship is now a lost art, but it is a tremendous bonus to my CAD work to have had the experience.”

HOW DO YOU KEEP UP TO DATE WITH CAD TOOLS?

Mark: “I keep up to date as and when we get a new version of the software. I have used a wide variety of software and can utilise elements of my knowledge to support my design work. It also gives me an understanding of what’s out there.“

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR CAREER IN PRODUCT DESIGN?

Mark: “Having qualified in engineering, my interest in product design stemmed from taking a design degree course. The course enlightened me as to the difference I could potentially make to people’s lives through excellent design. As a result of this, I started working for a company that designed homecare and rehabilitation equipment, so allowing me to help people by using design to solve their practical problems. It is incredibly satisfying to know you can make a real difference to someone’s life. At Simple Design Works I can carry this through to a wider range of products.”

WE HEAR YOU HAVE AN UNUSUAL SKILL. CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IT IS?

Mark: “I can carve stone! The opportunity to learn the skill came about by accident; at one point in my working life, I went to work for a precision engineer in Gloucester. After three months, however, the work dried up. I found myself without a job and needed to be resourceful! My father-in-law ran a building company and offered me a job to tide me over until I found my dream engineering job. However I didn’t have any building skills! The company worked in a highly specialised environment undertaking church restorations. I just got stuck in and quickly grew to love the work, which took quite a bit of skill to deliver. I replaced old stone with new, which required some careful and precise carving – I didn’t quite get to the ‘carving a gargoyle’ standard though!”

IT SOUNDS LIKE IT COULD HAVE BEEN QUITE A CHALLENGE FOR A NOVICE BUILDER?

Mark: “The most challenging part was doing dangerous things in a safe manner, for example having to stand on top of a church steeple. I did get stuck on a roof once and mortifyingly, had to be rescued by my boss – who is my wife’s father!  He’s taken great pleasure in reminding me of this on several occasions!’

WHAT IMPRESSED YOU ABOUT SIMPLE DESIGN WORKS AS A POTENTIAL EMPLOYER?

Mark: “This is the sort of position I always thought I’d like to do; an innovative, dynamic company, and a challenging role because of the variety of products and design work we deal with.  I also felt it would be more rewarding because you’re closer to the outcomes.”

AND DOES YOUR EXPERIENCE SO FAR LIVE UP TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS?

Mark: “I’m thoroughly enjoying the environment. I’ve already worked on several projects, gradually picking up work before I was let loose on my own clients. The team here are full of fresh ideas and every day is exciting. There’s a great buzz in the office.”

KRISTO, WHY IS MARK THE PERFECT ADDITION TO THE SIMPLE DESIGN WORKS TEAM?

Kristo: “Mark has a depth and breadth of experience in a variety of environments that aids his design skills.  He understands the production engineering process, so can create products with a view to ensuring they are not defeated in the manufacturing process. He brings wisdom and knowledge, and has a great sense of humour – always a bonus!”

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Introducing Charlie Conway

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: AN INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCT DESIGNER CHARLIE CONWAY

We’re powered by our people and it takes a diverse set of skills, personalities and points of view to build a humming innovation ecosystem.  Charlie graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in industrial design and his talent for producing exceptionally high-quality work makes him the perfect addition to the Simple Design Works team.

We love to understand why our team is passionate about product design and what makes them tick, so we put Charlie under our interview spotlight…

So Charlie, tell us a bit about your childhood…

Charlie: “I grew up in Worcestershire and went to Kings School in Worcester. When I left school, I wanted to find a way of applying my artistic skills in a more practical job role so I started looking at industrial and product design.  I knew that Loughborough University was renowned for producing high quality, employable graduates and so I enrolled in their four year industrial design degree.” 

Did you gain much practical experience during your course?

Charlie: “In our final year we were asked to create a fully feasible, manufacturable and original product that’s commercially viable. This eight month exercise took our ideas from concept right through to production. This final year project was perfect to give us an opportunity to experience every stage of the design process in a professional and educational environment.”

So what happened next?

Charlie: “Everyone showcased their final year project at the degree show. On the last day there was a networking event where design consultancies, agencies and other businesses visited to meet the students and discuss their final year projects. It was here that I met Richard, the design director at Simple Design works, who was impressed by how thorough I was with my work.”

What impressed you about Simple Design Works as a potential employer?

Charlie: “My dad’s an artist and my mum’s a doctor so I felt really passionately about finding a career that would be an extension of my childhood. I wanted to work for a design consultancy that considered both the practical elements of manufacturing with the exciting creative design process.”

“Richard introduced me to Kristo, the founder of Simple Design Works, who invited me for an interview in the Hereford office.  When I met the team and learnt about the projects they worked on, I knew this was the right place to fulfil my ambition and I started working for Simple Design Works less than a month later.”

And does your experience so far live up to your expectations?

Charlie: “Absolutely! What makes Simple Design Works different from other consultancies is the care taken through the customer journey. I speak to customers regularly about the design process so it’s a very hands-on role and I’m always encouraged to challenge ‘the way it’s always been done’.”

And Kristo, why is Charlie the perfect addition to the Simple Design Works team? 

Kristo: “We were impressed by Charlie as it was clear through his degree showcase that he has an exceptional amount of talent.  Charlie proved himself in the very first week of his employment when he took an existing product design and further developed it, enhancing the design and commercial appeal without compromising its clean lines.

Not only is he proving to be a talented product designer, but he is articulate, intelligent and has a great sense of humour. He has fitted into the team superbly well, and it soon felt like he’d been here for years. We know our clients will be impressed with Charlie’s work and we foresee a great design future for him.”

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