What Karim Rashid, Francisco Gomez Paz and Studio Mama search in junior designers
Creative thinking, drawing, 3D modeling, problem solving. Plus a real interest in the studio’s approach: three successful designers explain what they search in candidates
No, having a standout portfolio is not enough to impress an employer. “The most important thing I want to see in junior designers is a humble attitude and a real love for design”, says Francisco Gomez Paz.
A successful industrial designer known for his brilliant technical solutions, Gomez Paz works in Milan and in Salta, Argentina, and designs amongst others for Vibia and Luceplan (his Hope chandelier got him the 2011 Compasso d’Oro award). He also engineered a superlight chair with no screws or glues, and manufactured it industrially alone in his studio after engineering the tools to make it (it’s called Eutopia and got him another Compasso d’Oro award in 2020).
“In my studio we do many different things”, he says, “so it is important knowing how to think creatively, how to model in 3D, how to draw and work by hands, how to make prototypes and how to stay in a modern workshop with tools such as the 3D laser printer and numerical control machines”.
But, above all, as the Argentinian designer points out,
the candidate must have a real interest in what the design studio does:
“When I was looking for a job, when I started, it was a dream for me to be able to get in touch with designers who were already working professionally, because that helped me understand the value that there was in their way of designing”.
Francisco is one of the three designers we approached to find out what studios require from junior designers. The others are Karim Rashid (based in New York) and Studiomama (based in London): hence studios of different sizes, approaches and geographical locations.
And we understood that no, it’s not enough to be a black belt in making portfolios and renderings, but
the candidate must know how to think in a creative way and must be curious.
Too banal? “It is very difficult to find a passionate person who has the ability to still be amazed, the new generations are full of information and lack that naive attitude which in my opinion is essential if you want to do this job”, concludes Francisco Gomez Paz.
What attitude and skills should a junior designer have to be part of your team?
Francisco Gomez Paz:
“The skills are endless, it is difficult to find a person who is multifunctional: it is essential to know how to think creatively, how to model very well in 3D and render, how to draw, how to make prototypes, how to use 3D laser printer and numerical control machines.
And also how to take photos, make videos, writing stories, be organized.
Working by hands is also essential: the ritual question I ask is:
did you ever make model aeroplanes as a child?
I used to do them, and for me it is synonymous with an attitude for building things.
It is difficult for a junior designer to have all these skills, but the more he/she has, the more passionate and good he/she is, the better it will be to get the job”.
“Firstly he/she must love my work and know it well. Then potential candidates must demonstrate exceptional written and verbal communication skills, exhibit proficiency in organizational and multitasking abilities, possess a passion for design, be proficient in computer skills, and exhibit a positive attitude.
At Karim Rashid, we prioritize client satisfaction and timely delivery. Our junior designers are expected to be proficient in hard skills such as 3D modeling, rendering, and presentation materials to contribute to the efficient workflow”.
“The ability to draw is essential, along with this there is the ability to think along with us and contribute to ideas throughout the design process. We also look for the obvious CAD and rendering skills are essential.
Practical skills of making along side knowledge of material, manufacturing and fabricating are great to have”.
Which personal characteristics do you look for in junior designers?
“Problem-solving skills are highly valued at all levels of design within our studio, which operates with a close-knit team and transparent structure, requiring designers to be flexible and manage multiple projects simultaneously.
Time management is essential to our daily practice, junior designers should be able to prioritize the given tasks and deliver within the deadlines.
Our industrial design portfolio encompasses a diverse range of projects, including furniture, lighting, tabletop, electronics, consumer goods, packaging, and small exhibition design, as well as public installations.
It is imperative that our designers possess a comprehensive understanding of the various domains within the industry to effectively execute these projects”.
“Energy and enthusiasm are primary characteristics are great in the studio. Reliability, discipline and conscientiousness are also important”.
What attracts you most in a candidate for the junior designer role?
Francisco Gomez Paz:
“His/her ability to understand and feel a real connection with the kind of projects we do in our studio.
His/her motivation to work with us and the harmony with the way we see the world are fundamental, as I believe that every project has the soul of its creator. And if there is harmony with the project, there will certainly be harmony with the person. Many send the standard email to everyone, and have no idea of my approach, my projects”.
How do you select candidates?
Francisco Gomez Paz:
“We use a Google form which took us a long time to make, but it is a very useful resource (you can find it here). In this form I ask for many things, for example, what kind of software do you use, how many languages do you speak. I also ask to send a video in which the candidates introduce themselves”..
How important is it to send you a good portfolio?
“A standout portfolio, showcasing a clear design process, technical proficiency, unique form factor, and innovation is essential for consideration.
We mostly work with digital tools and prototyping in the studio, therefore the making skills are not as essential to us.
Candidates should also submit a formal cover letter that explains their understanding of Karim Rashid’s design philosophy and reasoning for why they would be a good fit for our team”.
What should the perfect portfolio look like?
“A good portfolio should consist of a series of projects which show the skills used during the design process, i.e. research, observation, analysis, conceptual thinking, sketching, development, detailing, model making and effective communication. A simple and a short pdf will suffice”.
In the candidate’s CV, what do you look at the most?
“We do take note of design schools like Kingston, Ravensbourne, Central St Martins, Royal College in the UK and further afield The Eindhoven Academy, ECAL, Konstfack and Zurich University of the Arts. Experience in another studio is great and seeing self initiated projects either experimental or commercial in nature is great. We are interested in getting a sense of the personality of the candidate, their passions and motivations, interests and achievements outside of design”.
Do you also look at the candidates’ website or social profiles?
“In the digital age, it is very important that a designer can accommodate different formats and platforms in presenting oneself.
Therefore we look at portfolios in pdf booklets, websites, as well as social media to get a comprehensive understanding of the candidates.
The website is a great place to showcase each project in depth and formally with a full process, including research, ideation sketches, modeling, rendering, prototyping, storytelling, and so on.
On social media, we would love to see the candidates’ passion for design and everyday inspirations.
It can be used as a mood board to showcase a wider range of interests beyond design itself as well. Ultimately, we seek individuals who are empathetic, driven, and diligent in their approach to design”.
After the first selection, how do you proceed with the interviews?
Francisco Gomez Paz:
“After selecting a candidate, we prefer to meet him/her in person to check if there is a feeling with us. There must be harmony, because during work we share a lot of time together, moments of stress, joy, sadness, so it is important that there is chemistry. But above all it is important that the junior designer has a real desire to work with me”.