Behind The Designer #003 Radek Szczygiel
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Welcome to Behind The Designer, the series where I interview designers and creatives of all levels and experience within my network and celebrate their work; and find out a little bit more about them. I am pleased to welcome the very talented Product Designer Radek Szczygiel whom I have had the pleasure of working with during his short time in London.
How did you get into design?
My passion is solving problems simultaneously giving a form to solutions. I love the joy on someone’s face when a result of my work is shipped. I feel keenly a responsibility to do things right because only then we actually solve problems, we do not create new ones. Design has always been present in my life. When I was 4 my parents bought me a huge box of LEGOs - it wasn’t a kit, there was no manual, no particular model to build. I was able to build everything I imagined, there were no boundaries and alongside ideas, my goal was also quality. In my parents' basement, I had a workshop where I played with tools and materials facing limitations of what was possible, to create almost anything from nothing.
Later there was photography which taught me how to look and how to shape perception. Finally, when I first met Mac my purpose became clear. Its purity and honesty of form and function of hardware and software, were at the same time so natural and obvious that I felt like I’ve known this product forever! I’ve started deconstructing Apple’s ecosystem seeking answers to ”why is it so appealing?”, ”How is it created?”, ”What is its purpose in a bigger picture?”. I wished to create relevant and delightful products. I was aware that expertise such as product management, engineering, sales, marketing, funding, and design are necessary for successful product development. Throughout years I’ve been involved in many initiatives, projects, and startups. At some point, I’d been honoured to be a Product Design mentor.
Those experiences developed my holistic approach to products and resulted in being not only a Product Designer but a Product Owner in one of the startups that I worked with. So I keep solving problems and I'm always glad seeing people enjoying the outcomes of my work.
Who are your design heroes?
People. They truly fascinate me. I observe them and I continuously learn from those observations. It helps me understand their needs and behaviors. If I had to mention a designer I would choose Oki Sato, the founder of Nendo. Essentialism present in his work is literally tangible. This is what I seek in my projects as it helps to find a perfect balance between function and aesthetics. It’s ever so challenging but brings the most satisfying results. The outcome is an essence, an unobtrusive and utterly deferential design. The reduction of pointless elements and simultaneous emphasis in an object’s purpose are easy to discern in Sato’s work. That approach is applicable across all design disciplines, either in industrial and digital products, and we can observe it in many successful products.
Where do you see design heading in the next 5 years?
The Internet is a missed opportunity. It has become mostly an information consumption medium while it is a powerful tool that holds tremendous potential. That’s why I see a future of design in IoT where devices are connected, dynamically adapting to a context. Moreover, IoT means the creation of ecosystems and those increase opportunities for business. So the future of design is challenging as it won’t be only about form and function but it’s going to require much more efficient multidisciplinary collaboration than ever.
Apart from IoT, design will have to focus on the environmental impact and it concerns every design discipline as even the colour palette or file sizes being used in Digital Product Design have a significant impact on energy consumption on single devices as well on server farms. Consequently, those aspects have an impact on resource exploitation necessary not only to produce the energy but also to manufacture hardware components.
What are you working on right now?
I contribute to building Unmind, a platform for mental health support in the workplace, where I also design some internal tools helping the company thrive better and faster.
Apart from the full-time responsibilities I work on many side projects. I’m the co-author of The Supersymmetry project on Medium where with Pawel Dawiec we write about design beyond stereotypes. With Daniel Budynski work on Sidney Co. initiative where we explore new approaches to mobile design and engineering. With Chakib Labidi and UX Playground team, we work on frameworks which we believe will make IoT design more accessible to everyone. Last but not least I work on a few personal Industrial Design projects which I’m going to publish later in 2020.
Looking back what advice would you give yourself as a junior designer?
I’d definitely quote the Book of Proverbs 21:31.
Many thanks to Radek for being part of the series Behind The Designer.
If you would like to be apart of this series then drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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