By Eliot Mason
My name is Eliot Mason and I have been a junior designer at Hillside Product design for just under a month. At the start it was pretty hectic; adjusting to my new position and then when it was time to finish working, I would be going off to view potential places to call home for the foreseeable future. Even with the extra-long hours and a bit of stress finding accommodation in a new town I have really enjoyed myself so far and realise I am on an exciting and steep learning curve.
At university I could afford to spend days on projects, even weeks researching an area of interest, and refining my ideas.
Here the projects have much faster turnaround times and very tight constraints, which has been slightly daunting for me. However, it has really opened my eyes to the commercial pressures of professional design. It is fast design but I am a fan of fast design so I am ready to embrace it.
I have quickly realised that it is a good thing to ask for help if I get stuck on a problem, or ask for guidance during the project briefing. I can see that there really is no point spending hours on any problem when five minutes with a senior designer will see me on the right path to a solution and to understand why that path works. I have also been actively offering my help to ease some of my colleague’s workloads which simultaneously exposes me to new methods and ideologies and has resulted in me being quickly accepted into the team.
When I finished university I was briefly under the impression that I had learnt all I needed to know to succeed in the design world. I am not afraid to say that was quite a long way from the truth and maybe a bit naive. I am in awe of the experienced designers here and as the days pass I see they are constantly taking on board new processes and fresh challenges. There is always going to be something new – it could be understanding new software or methods to limit thermal stress in a 3D printed part or keeping up with new developments in materials and processes.
It was a little daunting when I first joined Hillside Product Design, their design teams use different CAD software to the one that I used at university. I have been learning on the job undertaking different tutorials and project work while simultaneously being guided by my colleagues on best practices and the shortcuts to save client time when it comes to constructing my 3D models. I already feel that I am growing in confidence and know that with persistence and benefitting from the amazing guidance that I am receiving my skills are going to quickly improve.
I have been learning a lot through observing some of the team at work as they highlight their methods. The project that I have gained the most insight from was a CAD model of a fully engineered production ready moulding tool. Seeing the construction of that tool has proved invaluable in helping me learn the finer points of design manufacturing and teaching me to look at my designs in a different way. The feasibility of every design relies on so many factors and an understanding of the manufacturing process and its tools are key to what makes a good design.
Through learning by doing I have learnt that casting liquid silicone is not as straightforward as simply pouring silicone into a mould and waiting for it to cure before demoulding the part. Hillside Product Design has a stringent process of preparing the silicone before casting which I had great fun learning about. The process is there to ensure that any silicone prototype parts that are produced are of the highest quality with no air bubbles and no other blemishes present. One of the steps involves subjecting the liquid silicone to a vacuum to draw out any air that may have been mixed into it during the process.
So far in my short time here I have witnessed and have been involved with regular communications with clients; they can be as simple as informing the client that an engineering drawing has been sent to them, to a face-to-face meeting with multiple members of Hillside Product Design present. I always knew that communication is important in all parts of design but being here has made me realise that it is key to achieving effective delivery of product design.
The combination of learning new things, meeting new people and adjusting to a new method of working and a new town has been very tiring; but, I have enjoyed it immensely and cannot wait to see what new experiences my time here will expose me too. I hope to add some more to this insight a little further down the line so watch this space.
If you’ve got an idea you want to take to market, the designers here will assist you through your journey. They work closely with their clients to ensure they have all the support they need throughout the product development process. And if I am lucky I may assist too!