HD Talks

Product Designers on the Rise

Posted by on August 5, 2015 in People, Products

We see a lot of new products come across our desks. Sometimes we even get to feature the designers behind them, and it’s always fascinating to find out the origin story of these creators. For our August Products issue, we decided to take this a step further and talk to some product designers who are just starting out, finding so many that our pages couldn’t contain them all.

It’s inspiring (even for an old person like me) to see young people following their passions and coming up with new ways to create traditional products. Here, we talk to a few more of those emerging designers that you’ll undoubtedly be seeing more from in the years to come.

Leah Kenttämaa-Squires
Providence, Rhode Island


Stack by Leah Kenttämaa-Squires

Why did you want to become a designer?
I enjoyed how selecting objects and setting their arrangements can completely shift your perception of a room. Looking at college programs, I discovered industrial design at Purdue University [in Indiana] and was enamored with the idea of creating the objects rather than just arranging them.

What is your process?
The beginning of my design process usually starts with inspiration from an experience or a sparked moment of attention. For example, Tilt’s first inspiration came while I was sitting in a wobbly chair with one leg slightly shorter than the others. I found the motion satisfying and soothing, and I wanted to celebrate the sensation in a more intentional circumstance.

What are you currently working on?
My most recent project was Twist, a pendant lamp designed to alter the intensity of light through a physical movement. This piece was one of my most complex and time-consuming projects because of the numerous iterations it took to solve the mechanics and create the right motions and forms.

Matthew Plumstead
McCarty Quinn Design Studio


Integrated Workstation

Why did you want to become a designer?
I initially planned on being a fine arts painter (I attended Maryland Institute College of Art for two years as a painting major) but became frustrated with the barrier that existed between what I was trying to convey and what was being perceived by the viewing public.

An architect friend of mine encouraged me to think about pursuing architecture as it can be creative and obviously has a deep connection with people in many ways. I enrolled in the furniture design program at Minneapolis College of Art and Design to learn how to build things with various materials using numerous processes. Along the way I fell in love with furniture design and stuck with it instead of continuing on to pursue architecture.

What is your design aesthetic?
My aesthetic is tethered to simple or minimalistic forms. I never get tired of seeing simple geometry used in smart ways.

What are you currently working on?
I am working on a soft seating system that works in environments ranging from private offices to large lobbies. It supports different modes of work in these respective environments. The system should be out early next year.

Morgan Fritz
Santa Rosa, California

Why did you want to become a designer?
I grew up in a small city in Northern California’s wine country, a region thriving in the arts. I pursued fine arts in high school and spent summers working at nonprofit ArtStart, painting murals and decorative park benches. However, I found myself drawn to physical making and after attending Carnegie Mellon University’s design pre-college program, I discovered design to be the outlet I was looking for.



How did the Poschair come about?
The Poschair project began with a focus on health. My initial research on the topic developed into a group project exploring forms of nonintrusive methods for keeping the body active. We created a chair that keeps the user physically engaged, without strain or conscious effort. It does so by a simple gas spring that, adjusted to your weight, will lower the front of the chair over a period of time until you reach a leaning position. The backrest then resembles a spinal cord to emphasize spinal posture benefits aided in the lumbar through this chair.

You’re an industrial design major and a mechanical engineer major, how do those two disciplines work together? 
I began pursuing an engineering minor my sophomore year of college when I realized how fundamentally important it was for the two to work cohesively. Creating a product requires extensive knowledge in design, engineering, manufacturing,  so why not explore the entire process of development? I want to understand not just the form and human interaction side of a product, but also the function.

Louise-Anne Van ‘t Riet
Brussels, Belgium


Infinity Mirror Table

Why did you want to become a designer?
I have always been passionate about design, architecture, and art. My mother is an architect and that has definitely influenced me a lot as well.

What is your design philosophy?
My goal is to design everyday objects in as simple and as elegant a way as possible, using perfect functionality to enhance the relationship between user and product.

What material do you like to work with?
My favorite material to work with is wood, but I am trying more and more to discover and work with new materials. I love mixing materials together too; it always adds something powerful to the object.

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