3 days, 3 lessons: My Impact Hub Product Design Class Experience.
I am Charles Njoku, a designer, entrepreneur and foodie. I am a Design Lead at Arone, a drone-tech startup where we are building the future of aerial delivery in Nigeria and Africa using autonomous drones. At Arone I have helped represent its vision and core principles through intuitive and meaningful design. At least that’s what I think. First, I am your guy who always has an unpopular opinion about almost anything even long-age norms. Thank Yvonne for pointing that out. Secondly, I can be witty, humorous and annoying too.
I always would start my intro line like this; “I am a passionate designer with experience in bla bla bla and bla”. I mean this is like cliche for most designers tho. It is so easy to get carried away with buzz words without really defining what drives you, it certainly should be unique in itself and not some cliche. Colors, typography, layout, manipulations, pixels etc are considered design components I guess but what truly is design? Join me as I share how my 3-days Product Design Class at Impact Hub taught me 3-lessons and have also help reshape what design truly means to me.
Day 1, Lesson(s) 1
Today started bad for me. I was drenched in rain on my way from Mile 2 to CMS and then VI. Funny how it rained heavily in Mile 2 and not even a drop of rain in CMS, I will allow you to imagine what it felt like to be the only one walking wet while others were absolutely dry. All I can say is, I hate ‘Lagos’.
Lesson learnt: Lagos runs you, you don’t and may never run Lagos.
Oh! How I love the landscape at Impact Hub. I mean it literally kept me at ease after my most embarrassing Lagos experience. It was welcoming. So yeah, the landscape was comfortable for me and that ultimately changed my mood. The moment I walked it, I knew this guys meant business. I was here for business too. So lets get to it then!
We had an intro session with the Makerspace Manager, Joseph Agbamoro. This guy struck me as a big time nerd tho but on the contrary he is a blend of a nerd and a cool guy. I guess he is a cool nerd then. Then we had Orin, Impact Hub Community Manager, come talk to us about Impact Hub and the amazing and awesome things they do. We had lunch, yummy! Software installation followed and we were done for the day.
Lesson learnt: Sometimes you just have to be of positive mind, you never know! No matter what you say, a first impression certainly will save you the stress of proving any point.
Day 2, Lesson(s) 2
I was determined to go in fresh and fired up today. But guess what? Lagos runs you! This driver claimed to know of a shortcut so we could bypass a bit of the morning traffic but guess what? We got stuck into an even worse situation. I just took out a book I had in my bag and read.
Today we did a lot on Design Thinking and it was during this session I had an epiphany. Demilade from Neubridges did the honors of interacting and talking to us a lot about design. One thing that stood out was his ability and in-depth insistence that design isn’t about visuals, software, lines, objects, color, typography etc then I sort of asked myself then what is design? Like we were in some sort of sync, he went on to expound on what design really meant. And this is where I knew what the missing link was for me.
I figured the phrase ‘I am passionate about design’ or ‘I am a passionate designer’ didn’t really resonate with my motives to design. Why was I designing?
I am not passionate about design because if I were I probably would have been crazy about colors, form, layout, typography, trends, buzz words, illustrations, styles etc. But funny how I am not even moved by them. The design thinking class made me realize what really drives me to design. People! That probably sounds out of place but soon you will find out why.
I, like so many other designers find ourselves arguing with clients and team mates about their absurd design choices while we should mostly be listening. In truth, we consume so much book-smart knowledge about design rules and instead of making us better designers we end up being stiff, rigid and we sometimes loose essence. Design, whether graphics or product design is never about us, our skills or assumptions but about the users (people). They see what they want to see and not what we think they should see. They use it how it fits them and not how we want it to work for them. It is about them and not us (designers) and our skills helps us to put their so many needs into perspective and bring them to one final product/result.
Lesson learnt: I am passionate about people or at least I should be. As people exists so do problems. They need solutions, and to be able to solve their problems it is important that I am able to empathize with people, their choices, their wants and needs. Then be able to use my skills to bring about solutions that are meaningful, usable and will essentially impact their lives.
Next, we had Akinwole from Stampar3D interact and teach us about 3D printing technology. A really quiet and insightful teacher, he drilled us through thinking out and understanding workflows.
At this point, I was starving and we had a yummy lunch!
Day 3, Lesson(s) 3
Ah ha! Today marks my last day at Impact Hub. Actually, I really want to go back or at least wished to stay longer. But I guess where there is a beginning there will always be an end. But before the end, we had a thrilling experience.
From the previous day, Akin had asked us to make 3D models of anything and he would do the honors of printing them for us with his 3D printer. Awesome right?
I paired up with another participant and we (mostly his effort) came up with a 3D model of a chess piece, a pawn precisely. While the 3D printing went on we talked more about 3D printing, finishing, coupling and most importantly taking advantage of ‘tolerance’ to be able to print models with joints or brackets.
You might have noticed I didn’t talk about my classmates, I hope this doesn’t make me a bad person. But I had really amazing classmates; Anita, Chinedu, Gerald, Abraham, Ayorinde and Justice.
Lesson learnt: Take that high-way, take that risk, take that extra mile, go through that gain-pain. Because if you don’t, you certainly will take a seat in the stands to cheer what you would have become if you had tried.
It certainly was an amazing experience for me and I will not hesitate to be part of a more expansive experience.
Thank you Impact Hub,
Thank you guys for reading!