Interview by Sarah Kilcoyne
Once a month here at ESDIP, there is a prestigious prize up for grabs – the esteemed ‘Coworker of the Month‘ award!
We are proud to take this opportunity to show off one of our fabulous coworkers, and give you an insight into the type of work that our community members do here on a daily basis.
Photo credit: Sarah Kilcoyne
Jon is a Product Designer and DJ from the UK – we sat down for a chat to learn more about product design, frogs and DJ-ing in Berlin.
Sarah: Hello Jon! Seeing as we’re in a coworking space, talking about work, tell us first of all – what do you do?
Jon: Hi Sarah, I work for my family’s company called Bluefrog Design and we are product designers and developers.
S: I presume you studied Product Design or something similar back home?
J: I actually studied graphic design at Nottingham Trent University, once I graduated I started working for Bluefrog straight away and I had to teach myself how to become a product designer, and 10 years on I’m still learning.
Designing saws at Bluefrog! Photo credit: Bluefrog Design
S: Tell us a bit more about your company – Bluefrog Design. Would I be foolish in thinking it has anything to do with actual frogs?
J: Haha not exactly, the company is based on a small business park called Frog Island so thats where the name comes from. The company itself is a multi disciplinary product design and innovation company, in a nutshell we take clients ideas and then turn them into viable manufactured product.
We do everything in-house from preliminary ideas all the way through to the production of fully functioning prototypes, which are then suitable for the client to be able to test and progress the project to full scale manufacture.
S: So as a Product Designer, you could be asked to design anything, from bicycles to headphones to hydrotherapy machines?
J: You have to be very versatile as a product designer, like you said one day you could be designing a new wheel for a bike and the next minute designing a control panel for a machine. The trick is you have to get extremely involved with what you are designing and you have to become an expert in that field, and thoroughly understand what it is your designing.
You have to consider how it’s made, how it will be used, and whats the cheapest option to manufacture it.
A guitar capo design for G7th that Jon and his team worked on. Photo credit: Bluefrog Design
S: You must be very multi-talented! Is there any area of product design that you would consider your favourite?
J: We would like to think that we are, Bluefrog is only a small design team but everybody has their strengths and their weaknesses within the company. As I’m a music enthusiast, anytime we get something audio related, that really get’s me excited, we once worked on a guitar amp for a company called Orange amps, and we also designed a guitar capo for G7th which are now one of the largest Guitar Capo companies in the world.
S: I was snooping around on your Instagram, and discovered that you’re also moonlighting as a DJ! When/where did you start getting into playing music?
J: I started to play records in clubs in 2009 so it’s approaching 10 years now!! I guess it started with the fact that I tried to play pretty much every musical instrument and failed at all of them, a close friend got a pair of turntables who lived near me and for a few years thats all I did, buying lots of records and playing them I got a little obsessed with it. I also started to produce music in 2012 which has been a long journey of trying things out and making mistakes but I guess that’s the only way to learn.
One of Jon’s productions ‘Sunshine Comes After Rain (Original Mix)’. Credit: Do Funkk
S: What ‘genre’ would you say you fit into? Techno? Trance? Trap? Jungle??
J: I guess I fit into the techno/house category however Trap can be somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine! there I admit it.
S: Best gig you’ve played to date in Berlin?
J: About Blank 100% percent, there’s such a great energy in that place and the people are always up for a good old party.
S: How does it feel to win the esteemed Coworker of the Month award?
Ecstatic! I will now die a happy man.
S: As a result of further Instagram-snooping, I also noticed that you guys won a design award recently, congrats! Tell us a bit more about that project?
Yes this was amazing for our company, we have worked quite a lot in the medical sector over the past few years and for us to pick up the design award is pretty special and quite an achievement for a small team.
S: It must be a bit daunting, designing medical supplies. How do you find it?
J: Designing for the medical industry is definitely daunting especially when failure is not an option, Luckily our engineers back in England are extremely thorough when designing these specific products.
A design prototype from the Engineering Design department at Bluefrog. Photo credit: Bluefrog Design
S: Do you have any other hidden talents?
J: Might not be a talent maybe more of a skill, but I used to play representative cricket for Leicestershire and I got the chance to play in New Zealand for 6 months as a teenage for a development scholarship.
S: When you’re working at your Flex Desk here in ESDIP, are you making music, or working the day job?
J: Most of my time is dedicated to the day job, but if there is an hour spare here or there you can find me playing with some music, headphones on of course.
S: Any advice for aspiring product designers? And/or DJs?
J: Be humble, believe in what your doing and keep working at it, that’s my fair share of wisdom for the day.
Jon making beats, mixing away! Photo credit: Jon Samwell
Are you also interested in coworking? Then check out our pricing plans here, or just drop by the space any day within the opening hours, Mon-Fri 10-19h, and we’ll show you around.