I went to China to understand the future
One of the best experiences I’ve had in my adult startup life was the opportunity to visit China, specifically Shenzhen. A city with the population of 14 million, divided into ten districts.
As part of Highway1 we are brought to China to understand design for manufacturing, supply chain, kitting and other processes.
Factories in China don’t have lines of robots placing stickers or “kitting” headphones. It’s rows of individuals who meticulously place crystals onto watch heads, wrap headphone wires and seal boxes. They do so with perfection.
By the time a product reaches you, dozens if not a hundred people have come together to create that special object you are holding. I left China with a new respect for everything I hold. Physical objects are a feat of wonder, from the design thinking at early stages, to modifications for mass manufacturing then assembly.
As a child I always wondered how products were made, the mystery kept me curious. After seeing all types of factories (from watch manufacturing to plastic injection modeling), I left inspired to create. All the factories we visited (in China and the States) were very open to working with new products and startups. Why? It’s an opportunity to innovate and develop new tools and techniques. For example, at the watch factory we toured, they developed a polishing technique for plastic watch heads over 20 years ago. The director was very proud of that feature, he had the opportunity to solve a problem for his client and innovate a technique he could use for other customers.
In the hands that sketch ideas, create renderings, reduce steel into finely detailed casts or narrate a product story, we hold the future.