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10 Questions With...

10 Questions With... Reid Schlegel

27 June 2016

At the Eastman Innovation Lab we look to our fellow design and materials nerds for inspiration, community, and expertise. In order to get to know them and their projects better, we created a column called Ten Questions With…


Meet Reid Schlegel, a student design graduate from Virginia Tech and currently an Industrial Designer with Frog Design, a global design and innovation firm located in New York City. 

Schlegel is no stranger to the EIL, as a matter of fact; some of you may recognize him from one of our projects, A Shoe of a Different Footprint. In his current position, Schlegel is a jack-of-all trades. From large scale outdoor displays to consumer goods and small appliances, he’s worked on a multitude of projects that are challenging and fulfilling at the same time. “I also help coordinate interns at Frog, which is one of my favorite things to do—working with students on design projects and teaching them the skills they need to know to be a successful designer,” said Schlegel. 

We recently chatted with Schlegel and asked him a few questions that we thought would provide an interesting perspective for student designers and professional designers, alike. 

What motivates your design? 

Pushing the boundaries! I’m obsessed with efficiency—I thrive on the idea of creating a design that’s useful, can be manufactured, functional and solve a problem. I’m also motivated by working with other talented designers; it helps me continue to hone my skills. 

Why do #MaterialsMatter? 

Materials push the boundaries of what’s possible. Knowing how they perform under pressure in a manufacturing process is important to the end result of your design. Materials are a definite consideration during each phase of the design process, especially the deeper you get into a design. Does it work, does it still look good and does it feel good—those are things that I consider when it comes to materials. It’s important to do the research on a material to make sure in the end it does what you need to do and still offers the quality and look that make you proud. Designers who don’t think about materials set themselves up for failure. 

What are your favorite things to do? 

Personally, it’s working with students. Understanding the challenges they face from their perspective of not knowing much about design. Most students haven’t heard the word “No” and are fun, are inspiring and creatively unencumbered. The most fascinating aspect of working with students is watching them make the leap (pun intended) from being a student to a professional designer. Drawing is also something that I’ve always enjoyed and is my go-to activity. 

Who is doing work that you find inspiring? 

Aside from the traditional classic designers, I would say Thomas Heatherwick, for his innovative functional work and Sori Yanagi. 

What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago? 

There’s nothing wrong with duplicating sketching styles as a form of practice to help you master your own style. I would also advise myself to keep being creative. When I was younger, I loved to sketch/draw and in my teen years I decided it wasn’t cool so I stopped making drawing a priority. I wish I had continued to sketch/draw throughout those years. If you love it—keep doing it if it brings you joy. It’s a part of your life, it’s who you are. I would also say, question everything…it will continue to give you different perspectives. 

What technology gets you excited? 

3D Printing! The fact that 3d printing is getting smaller and better along with technology as a whole. 

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you deal with it? 

Overcoming and facing ambiguity. It takes a while to feel comfortable with qualitative design. In the design world one person might like or hate your work. I’ve learned early in my career that it’s important to build confidence and trust your gut feeling. Trust in your process—it will help you continually improve. 

What’s something you want to get better at? 

From a tactical level its model making—complex modeling. 

What’s your go-to reference book? 

I don’t have books that I go to for reference. I believe in self-improvement. I’ve read almost every design book out there. The book “Less, But Better” was interesting. I tend to use the internet for reference, it’s more up-to-date. If there’s a topic I want to learn about, then I’ll buy a book. 


SPEED ROUND 

Coffee or tea? Coffee--espresso 

Droid , OS or Apple? Apple 

Kindle or book? Book, but Kindle is great for traveling! 

Sketch or build? I love to build but, sketching is what I do the most and can do anywhere. 

What are you reading right now? The latest book I’ve read is, “The Almost Nearly Perfect People.”