THE BLOG
10/02/2013 06:02 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Star Designers Flying Under the Radar

The creative economy has it's own highly publicized heroes and while most of us have heard about Sir Jonathan Ive, James Dyson, Giorgetto Giugiaro and Philippe Starck, there are still unknown star designers out there. These unsung heroes have lots of mileage in their profession and are very innovative, having caused true paradigm shifts in their industry.

Fernando Pardo, twin brother of the renowned designer, Pablo Pardo, is one of those unsung designers who, without much fanfare, have moved the industrial design profession forward. His concept of the GINA Car, BMW's fashionable fabric sports car, was groundbreaking. As a design expert at BMW Group DesignworksUSA, BMW's advanced concept center in California, Fernando has worked on hundreds of products over the past two decades and has dozens of awards and patents to his name. During a recent phone interview, he shared with us his observations of what a day in the design trenches might look like.

Fernando told us that successful design is traditionally seen as the merger between art and technology, however this is just the beginning. A successful designer has be an incorrigible optimist while acting as a conduit between all the stakeholders. The designer needs to communicate just the right amount of information, at just the right time and capture the big picture without getting bogged down by details, since, at the end of the day, design has to meet the standards of business, as well.

Since design is a highly competitive field, where designers compete to have their concepts selected, it is important to remember that the teams' success really depends on everyone's ability to collaborate. Mentoring, as well as constantly learning from others is essential for collective success and growth. Fernando says he will usually team up with a junior designer and show him the ropes since young designers have a fresh perspective that keeps him inspired and on the cutting edge.

He said that while some head butting is unavoidable in this atmosphere of constantly pushing for perfection, when one truly believes in something from their heart, it is important to have the courage of one's convictions and to speak up. Having confidence, no fear and risk taking, balanced with an open mind and the ability to set one's ego aside provides the best opportunities to make the leap into great design.

In the culture of design, leaders play a crucial role and have to get involved in design by embracing the people who make a real difference and move design forward, instead of just reinventing the same old patterns. A pat on the back from management goes a long way to sustain the momentum for these risk- taking designers since, like most humans, they appreciate being acknowledged for their creative contributions.

Art is said to be goal directed play with the objective of making objects meaningful and supporting ceremony. If so, designers are a lot like artists, creating functional art and technology for the commercialization of novel and useful products. In fact, without the unsung hero designers, like Fernando Pardo, our everyday life would be painted in shades of gray and would be very much less interesting and colorful.