Designer Spotlight: Nicholas Baker
Speaking from his Brooklyn NY studio, Industrial designer Nick Baker lets us in on how he’s gone from making wood planes in his Grandfather’s workshop to starting his own design studio; the power of Instagram for designers; and the impact he wants to have on the world.
How did your background lead you to become an industrial designer?
I’ve been drawing and making things since I was a kid. I remember going into my Grandfather’s shop when I was three or four to make a toy car or a wood plane. I’ve always had that knack. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I took some drafting classes at high school, then I came across the industrial design course and I just knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. So I enrolled in SCAD and from there went on to work in graphic and industrial design firms across the country. I ended up heading to Texas to work for Petmate making animal toys. I was the first in-house designer on the team, and because I had a lot of responsibility I also had a lot of freedom. I learned a lot, but I felt it was becoming a bit stale and it was time to move on. I packed up, moved back to New York and since then I’ve been doing freelance consulting work working on all sorts of products and projects!
So what was it that really sparked your interest in product design?
I think it just clicked. I found exactly what I needed to be doing - it wasn’t romantic! I discovered this major where I could design physical products, and I was like ‘oh that’s perfect, that’s exactly what I want to do with life’. I was lucky I found exactly what I wanted to do.
What inspires you?
I get a lot of my inspiration from the everyday. The mundane. I walk around the city or use something in my apartment. If it’s an interesting mechanism, or if I see a door knob that’s an interesting shape, that inspires me. I think it’s a subconscious thing. I take all these things and they accumulate into my subconscious mind, and when I go to design that comes out in new forms.
What matters to you most in design?
For me, I really try to push the boundary of what a product can be. I started this small design brand called almost object. It’s a personal manifesto where I can put my work in, where there’s no work, no questions. It’s just a space for me to create products that I think should be in this world. It’s about pushing the boundaries of what products can be. There are a thousand designers that can make a pretty chair, but no one is really taking a step back and saying “what if that’s not a chair? What if it’s not just made of wood? Why can’t we do something different and push the boundaries, and maybe it’s not even a chair anymore?” That’s my personal manifesto. I also try and incorporate that unique cleverness into my commercial products.
What if that’s not a chair? What if it’s not just made of wood? Why can’t we do something different and push the boundaries, and maybe it’s not even a chair anymore?
You’ve been using Gravity Sketch as a medium for a while now. How do the tool benefit you compared to existing tools?
Gravity Sketch is amazing because it’s like I can visualise something incredibly fast, but also direct to the brain. I’m not having to worry about the constraints of keyboard or mouse, trying to draw in perspective, or sketch to the correct lighting. It’s just there. I can create whatever I want in a very quick amount of time. I’ve been rendering out in KeyShot to create some amazing images in less than two hours.
What is the real value added to your work since using Gravity Sketch?
Firstly, time value. I feel like traditionally, you go from sketch to cardboard mock-ups, to 3D CAD model, to final render, to present to the client. But now it’s just so much quicker because you don’t have the steps in between. It’s just Gravity Sketch and final render. Secondly, back to the stream of subconscious, sometimes my ideas come out so much smoother. I’m still trying to pinpoint exactly why, but with Gravity Sketch it’s much more free in a way.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
My professor in college, Owen Foster, said to me: “You can take this job in Texas, but once you stop learning, it’s time to move on”. It’s simple advice, but it’s true. Never stay stagnant, always learn some more.
What is the one piece of advice you would pass along to other designers?
I really think that posting on Instagram consistently, and pushing yourself every single day has been a huge help for my career. With Instagram, I have not only made loads of connections, I have been able to build a community that I can leverage feedback from. It’s been a great way to further my career. So my advice would be to sketch everyday, post it online and try to keep improving.
How do you want to impact the world?
You know, I just really enjoy industrial design. I want to make great products that bring a bit of joy into life. Something that brightens someone’s day and something that’s thoughtful.
I want to make great products that bring a bit of joy into life.
And finally, what is your favourite Gravity Sketch feature!?
The surfacing tool. Compared to other mediums out there, it’s magic in the way you can adjust things and create a surface on the fly. It’s just so much quicker than any other 3D tool. But my go to is the stroke tool.
Nicholas Baker (@nickpbaker) * Instagram photos and videos
61.6k Followers, 425 Following, 794 Posts - See Instagram photos and videos from Nicholas Baker (@nickpbaker)
Don’t miss Nick’s weekly instagram live sketch show Late Nite Nick!