Interview with Zach Raven

Winner of Jewelry Design Awards

Award Winning Designer Zach Raven shares insights


Interview with Zach Raven at Monday 27th of August 2018:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
ZR : I earned a BFA in Industrial Design from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids Michigan. I've worked for over a decade mostly in the contract furniture industry.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
ZR : Solving problems and improving peoples' lives. It's motivating to see designs that exist only to improve lives, as opposed to making money.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
ZR : I chose design after 3 years in college.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
ZR : Mostly furniture with some wearables and transportation concepts.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
ZR : Work constantly. That doesn't mean pen to paper every second of the day, but always be aware. Question things you see or products you use. See the inspiration all around you. Live a design life, integrate the aspects of design into your life.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
ZR : Solving problems in a beautiful way while pushing the limits of what was done before.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
ZR : I think a beautiful object is what gets itself recognized, but after the initial reaction, the products has to be well made and function perfectly. Everything goes hand in hand, you can't have something beautiful that falls apart the first time you use it.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
ZR : Good design pushes us forward.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
ZR : I'm enamored with some of the big names out there. I'd love to design a chair for Vitra or Established & Sons in the future.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
ZR : As my son grows, I'd like to build and electric motorcycle with him. Something crazy.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
ZR : Work harder than the next guy. Be accessible and approachable. No ego.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
ZR : Marc Newson, Patricia Urquiola, Errolson Hugh, Johnny Ive, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
ZR : I love the Bouroullec's Slow Chair from Vitra. It's beautiful and amazingly comfortable.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
ZR : I'm really proud of the watch we are currently developing. I'm excited to see that through, and see how it preforms commercially.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
ZR : I've asked myself that question many times, I honestly don't know.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
ZR : My parents have always supported me, I couldn't have gotten here without them. My wife, who is also a designer, has also helped me greatly, whether its to bounce ideas off, or supporting me while I worked crazy hours, she has always been there.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
ZR : I had a lot of support and great professors during school. After school, the people I worked for were great mentors.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
ZR : Hopefully commercializing our watches. After that, who knows.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
ZR : Design can solve issues that nothing else can. Whether that is providing homes to those who need it, or eliminating waste going into the environment.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
ZR : Our M1 watch.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
ZR : An even greater push for a cradle to cradle approach. Design to disassembly and recyclability or reusability.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?
ZR : Hopefully more inclusion as more women and minorities enter the field. More diversification will make for a better field of design.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
ZR : Depends on the project, but I'm used to 6 months to 2 years.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
ZR : Research. Whether that is first or second hand research with users, or inspirational image searches. We always start with research to start crafting a story.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
ZR : Both. I think they are both very connected.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
ZR : I'm a techno-nerd. So design is integral while I'm designing, but can also be a great inspiration.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
ZR : Macbook Pro, Rhino 3D and Keyshot are the tools I use most.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
ZR : Colors can either inspire passion for a product, or prematurely date a product. For that reason, color needs to selected with the utmost of care.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
ZR : Honestly, my wife. She is great at challenging me for the best solutions. And we dont always see eye to eye. No body just wants a yes man around, I want to hear if my initial thought is wrong. Fail faster to succeed sooner.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
ZR : My wife.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
ZR : Practice, practice, practice. Striving for the best solution.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
ZR : Hawking. Physics amaze me.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
ZR : Awards and recognition are nice, but in the end, a great product is worth more.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
ZR : Black. Paris. Autumn. College Football. Apple.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
ZR : When a design REALLY comes together. When you know you've hit the exact right solution. That is always very satisfying.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
ZR : I was always curious and drawing all the time. I don't know if it was obvious to anyone what my career path would be. It took me 3 years in college to switch to design.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
ZR : Hopefully as a species have stopped fighting and have finally decided to clean up the earth, otherwise I don't think we will be here.