Women From Roundarch Isobar Attend Design Talks with Scott Wilson

Women from Roundarch Isobar’s New York office attended an insightful lecture featuring Scott Wilson, a renowned product designer. The lecture is part of a series called Bill’s Design Talks presented by Cooper Hewitt (the National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Institute) and moderated by Bill Moggridge, Cooper-Hewitt”s Director.

Roundarch Isobar Women’s Community members at Cooper Hewitt DesignTalks, from left to right, Cat McGuire, Mary Remington, Jennifer Dowling Urenia, and Smriti Kapuria

Scott Wilson is the founder of MINIMAL, a design studio based in Chicago. His resume is dazzling: Nike, Thomson Consumer Electronics, IDEO, Fortune Brands, Motorola, five start-ups, and collaboration with Microsoft on Kinect for Xbox 360. In honor of his illustrious career, Wilson was named winner of the prestigious 2012 National Design Award in the Product Design category.

It was a packed house as designers, students, and all manner of innovators came out on a very rainy May night to hear Wilson’s advice on what it takes to be a design entrepreneur. To be successful, Wilson says, you need equal parts curiosity, confidence, passion, and experience.

Plus courage and a bit of luck. Courage is what separates the entrepreneurs and visionaries from the dreamers. You have to be willing to fail because you learn a lot from failing. If you don’t take a risk, that’s the biggest risk.

For luck, the timing has to be right. You could be hired by a great company, but the culture might no longer be the same. The company may be resting on their laurels and unwilling to take risks anymore.

Working at corporations gave Wilson an important education in what it takes to extend brands globally to consumers. The drawback with corporations, though, is that they tend to want to put you in a silo. Get good at this one thing. But designers don’t think that way.

With start-ups, he said, you get far more opportunities to take a product from end to end, to experience and learn from the entire life cycle. Wilson’s work at Motorola was particularly compartmentalized. The company hired him to inculcate an end-to-end culture, but couldn’t seem to allow even Wilson himself to execute on the concept. After being at a user centered design company like Nike, he found Motorola stifling.

Quickly moving on to a more entrepreneurial opportunity, Wilson helped kickstart Kickstarter. His TikTok and LunaTik watches for the iPod Nano were one of Kickstarter’s first truly successful product launches, earning almost a million viral marketing dollars in record time.



Wilson explained that people love feeling like they are a part of creating something. Getting them involved in the process turns them into brand advocates and brand ambassadors for your product. In direct contrast to typical corporate secrecy around product development, the transparency of a process like Kickstarter helps humanize the brand by authentically bringing people closer in.

In an effort for total transparency, Wilson’s company is developing an app that gives users a commission every time they refer a MINIMAL product to someone who ends up buying it. The app is like “digital Tupperware,” whereby anyone in the world can be a sales rep on the spot for your product. Wilson added that talks with Paypal to introduce the game-changing app have been. . . interesting.



Video of the Scott Wilson lecture


Books recommended by Scott Wilson: