Superficially, good design can be easy to appreciate. Does it look good? Does it do what it’s supposed to? Does it do it well? The obvious questions are often immediately answered upon first glance, but seldom do we as consumers understand the inspirations and processes behind designers’ most prized innovations.
TOMO’s Designer’s Touch series will dig deep to offer readers insight into the inspiration and process that designers employ to create world-class products.
“Maintaining the trust between consumer and product through design is crucial.”
Ryan McSorley forayed into the world of design by first graduating with a BA in Product Design from Central Saint Martins. Shortly thereafter, he was offered an internship at the Xindao design studio (also known as XD Design) in Shanghai and has since become a prominent lead designer, taking numerous designs from early concept through to mass production.
At what moment did you realize product design was your passion?
I think I would have to say my passion for design initially came from my love for Lego blocks. As a child I would spend hours creating shapes, buildings, environments using Legos, fueling my urge to bring new and interesting things to life.
What inspired the design of the XD Design Sunflower Charger? And beyond that, what inspires you as a designer daily?
The Sunflower came from the idea to make solar technology more approachable and more fun. Solar panels can often be viewed as uninteresting and purely functional. I wanted to communicate the power of the sun’s energy and to bring a smile to the user through my playful design. The sun can give energy to a plant or flower and now through the Sunflower, it can give energy to your cellphone or other electronic device. Everything about the design made sense to me and should to the consumer upon first glance.
It is difficult to pinpoint what inspires me on a daily basis, as it can literally be anything. It can come from an object, a shape or it can be how someone is dressed. It can also come from reading an article and I see the need for design in a situation or problem. Design is everywhere.
What were the steps taken in bringing the object from concept to product? Is there a general process you undergo during the design process?
The Sunflower, like most items, came from a lot of research and even more sketching. I find the most useful way to get my ideas out is to put as many sketches on paper as possible.
I also tend to make a lot of models out of paper so I can start to get a sense of the scale and proportion of the design. Any visualization vehicle helps in providing a canvas for trial and error until you feel like you’ve gotten it right.
Were there any challenges along the way? If so, how did you overcome them?
There were many challenges, but I think the biggest was making a design in the shape of a flower, which was not too kitsch. I wanted to convey a sense of fun while also giving the sense that this product packs some serious technology. Through design I wanted to give a feeling of trust in the function. Maintaining the trust between consumer and product through design is crucial.
What would you say you’re most proud of to date?
Wow, that’s a difficult one. I am proud of many things. I am proud to do something I love, or I should say I am privileged to get to do something I love. I take pride in creating designs that enhance people’s daily lives, but also hope my designs bring joy in their form and/or function. I think a lot of people underestimate the power design has in enhancing or detracting from these things.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming designers that are looking to make their mark in the consumer design industry?
I think the key is to learn as much as you can as a young designer. Find support from people or companies who are doing interesting things and learn from them, but also contribute to their vision. I think the one thing which will hinder any young designer is ego. Be humble, as you have lots to learn. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Absorb all the information you can.
Want this sunflower charger design for yourself? Buy it here via TouchOfModern.