Vincent Tsai – Cool Gear Industrial Designer
What was your first full-time job and what did you learn from it?
My first full-time job was in Atlanta at Bubba Brands. I had just graduated from college and was working as an industrial designer. That role introduced me to how design actually works in the real world – the elements that are not taught in school. I got to experience the process of designing product and seeing how it goes into manufacturing, whereas my school studies were more conceptually focused – more blue sky. Being on the business side threw me in the deep end and changed how my approach to design starts and ends. It’s not just adding things to create something beautiful, but also crafting something functional and producible.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Many things from many parts of my life. In college, I initially thought I might go into architecture or advertising. I was super into movies and film and had a friend whose father worked in advertising and seeing the commercials he created was really inspiring. I was always interested in the creative field and also really liked cars, which is how I learned about industrial design. I took both architecture and industrial design intro courses in college, but ultimately decided on industrial design for the ability to create so many different things and that opened lots of doors.
What advice do you wish you received when starting your career?
I wish I’d had a clearer picture of how competitive the market is. It’s definitely not as easy as I’d thought! Good advice I’d say is don’t stop improving, even after you start working. It’s always important as a creative to have different outlets to feed that fire. I enjoy the steps of problem-solving and designing, but focusing solely on the same product day in and day out can start to feel like work (even if that’s what it is!). Side projects keep the creative juices flowing and provide reassurance that I can sketch and design other products too!
What do you like most about your current job?
The people! I love the work I do and the people I work with make it that much more enjoyable. The product development team makes the products come to life and I love being able to be part of the process every step of the way. It’s very unique that you get to see a design on paper come through the prototype studio and into production. As an industrial designer here, you get to see a lot of your work go into the market and become real.
Favorite Cool Gear product?
Treadz – it’s been a very fun project, which has so many elements that I like and could fuse together into one unique item.
Top Cool Gear achievement so far:
I would say Treadz as well, as it’s been my biggest project here. It was really awesome to see the team drive the story behind it and great to see it all unfold at the housewares show as a product designer.
What industry insight is most valuable to you today?
Sustainability is huge. Industrial designers have to keep that in mind. We love to design and creators make a lot… and to be totally honest some of it is junk! Designers need to be wary of this and take steps to lessen our footprints and explore more sustainable materials.
What is the best professional advice you have received? From whom?
Someone I follow, Simon Sinek, said: “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” I think that really resonates with what I do as a designer and what businesses need to shift towards as well. Focus on the why and not just the what – having that purpose and showing a goal.
What’s your secret talent?
Not many people know I can twerk.
If you were a cereal mascot, who would you be and why?
Tony the Tiger, he’s really chill. He’s not creepy. He’s not trying to steal your breakfast.
Check out more of Vinny’s work and read more about him at vincetsaidesign.com.