Careers in Art: Cameron Brodie

Term: 3 Year: 2004

Industrial Designer

Cameron is a graduate from Swinburne University & joined the team at Sprocket Design 11/2 years ago.

How long have you been in the industrial design field and how did you get there?
Every ID professional says this, but it’s true, “I started my Industrial Design career at a young age when I got my first Lego set”. From these dizzy heights, I moved into model aircraft manufacture and painting/drawing on everything possible. I then began to experiment with larger projects. Finally I found a name for this need to create objects. A four-year honors course in Industrial Design ensued in which I worked at Sprocket Design for a year’s work experience. Since then I have been working full time at Sprocket for about 1.5 years.

Do you relate to the people or industry you have chosen?
The belief is in some situations that designers put themselves on a higher social pedestal than the masses. In relation to design, there has to be some truth in this statement. After all, it is the role of a designer to shape the daily lives of all of us. I do feel that to be the best designer I can be, it is just as important how I relate to non-professionals, as in many cases the most inspiring thoughts come from left of centre.

What’s your favorite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
My second love is music, so probably my Jurassic 5 T-shirt (HipHop band). I am T-shirt mad. I have at least 28.

What is a day in the life of Cameron the industrial designer?
My days are many and varied, which is why I love my job. Working for a small consultancy, which both designs and small-batch manufactures products, requires me to spend time in many different facets of the design process. I don’t necessarily love all aspects of my job, but as a well known Architect, Michael McDonough says, “If you don’t learn to love the boring, aggravating, and stupid parts of your profession and perform them with diligence and care, you will never succeed.” So in a perfect world I get to spend my day concepting new products, discussing exciting design projects, learning new processes or design techniques, reaching inspiring design conclusions, and presenting innovative and slick graphic presentations. Conversely, I may have to raise purchase orders, deal with incompetent manufacturers or spend hours/days/weeks inputting CAD data.

Within your specific   employment, what part do you play within the firm?
I work in the product/kiosk design area of the company. Sprocket Design is one of the foremost Information and interactive kiosk design and manufacturing companies in Australia. We deal with clients including McDonalds, Kodak, Holden, ANZ, etc., supplying them with interactive touch-screen kiosks, that allow their customers to access information, complete purchase transactions, refill phone cards, print digital media and a whole host of other applications.

What’s your best or most successful piece of work to date?
My most successful is a wireless, updateable, advertising screen, which can be found in about 3000 post offices and similar stores around Australia. My favorite is my current project, a desk mounted kiosk for downloading, selecting and ordering digital prints from your digital camera

What inspires an industrial designer?
Everything inspires a good designer, and nothing inspires a bad one. The common thread amongst all designers is their need to explore and create environments for future exploration. More specific inspiration, like in life, does however come from the individual’s own environment. That is why I believe the only way to better yourself as a designer is to travel, and in doing so broaden your cultural knowledge and expand your horizons.

Are there peers in your industry that set a benchmark?
There are designers and there are design firms that have and continue to set the benchmark for design moving into the 21st century. The most recognizable is Apple and their head of industrial design Johnethan Ive. As with all top design worldwide, it takes risks to reach these amazing outcomes. Apple’s candy -coloured translucent Imac’s were a risk that paid off with an instantly recognizable brand and a cult status.

Was your tertiary education demanding on you?
Industrial Design, at tertiary level, is extremely demanding. As there are so few places, competition is hot from the start. The course format is unique to the design fields, and features many practical based subjects, few exams and numerous visual/oral presentations. There is always time to socialize! Design is the social interaction of people and products.

Who would you most like to sit next to on a flight to Europe?
Probably my late uncle. He was an Architect/Artist and always showed a great interest in my artistic endeavors from a young age. I’d love to have the chance to show him where I am now.

What are some of the negative aspects of your job?
It is not the most well-paid job. It is extremely competitive.

If you were speaking to a secondary school student who was showing interest in following in your footsteps, what advice would you give them?
First of all I would say – write down all the things you’re interested in and get yourself along to a University Open Day. Organize your work experience at a design consultancy. Look at doing some art/design based extra-curricular activities. Go to design exhibitions, furniture shows (Melbourne Museum, Art Gallery, etc)
Finally, to get into a tertiary ID course, you will need to present a portfolio (you should start thinking about this from about year 11 onwards). This can be any artistic/design work you may have done for school or personal projects. It is, however, an Industrial Design course, so projects that show some ID skills are great.