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Designer Down Time - Part Two
By Darwin Keith-Lucas
Read part one here

Welcome to a second edition of "Designer Down Time," the column where designers get to remember that we have lives outside the studio. This time around we have seven designers with rather varying interests. From those who wrote in, we've met a few musicians, a cliff jumper, a chopper builder and a few others with unique activities. Check them out…

Let's start with a musician: Vic Walter, a Product Designer for Dimension One Spas in Southern California.

Vic Walter
Vic has been playing the drums for the past 15 years and considers it his first love (after design, of course!). He plays about three times a week and is currently the drummer for two bands. Vic lists his major influences as Pressure 45, Creed, Godsmack, Drowning Pool, Led Zepplin, and The Beatles. He views design and music as similar art forms in that they both express emotion. Just as many designers express emotion through their design work, he is able to express emotion through his music. For that reason, he feels that his hobby helps him design. We could not agree more.


Reuben Wu
Reuben Wu is also a musician but his band is slightly less "main stream." Reuben's day job is an Industrial Designer for Team Consulting in Cambridge UK. However, his true love is creating electric pop music in a band called Ladytron. He loves playing live because design can really insulate you from the outside world. Playing in Ladytron gets him out and lets him see the world. In the past year, Ladytron has started to gain popularity. They just finished a seven-country tour of Europe and will record their next album in Los Angeles. Reuben spends most of his time touring, playing live, composing on his laptop, and in clubs. In fact, next year he will take a sabbatical from design to pursue music full time. Best of luck.


James Keeler
Another designer with a penchant for sound is James Keeler, a Product Designer for Mosa Sports. James has a conceptual sound project called "Wilt" in which he takes images such as paintings and pictures along with abstract concepts such as entropy and chaos and illustrates them through sound. He composes these sounds into an auditory landscape. For instance, on his last CD titled "Flea Market / 1958," he took the concept of a French writer and heroin addict in 1958. With inspiration from Marcel DuChamp, Jazz, and art / design of the 1950's, he composed an album that captured the daily struggle of the writer fighting his addiction, supporting himself and trying to compose his next novel. This is not to be confused with straight music, what James does is far more abstract than that.

Music: Wilt MP3


Bilgi Karan

Another designer who has a rather cerebral hobby is Bilgi Karan , an Industrial Designer for Demirdokum, a heating and cooling company in Istanbul, Turkey. About three years ago, Bilgi read "A Brief History of Time"‚ by Stephen Hawking, a book that deals largely with the origins of the universe. Since then Bilgi developed a rather unique hobby. Bilgi has been studying astrophysics and Einstein's theory of Relativity. Astrophysics gives him a different perspective, one where the earth is merely a tiny spec in a rather large universe. Relativity challenges his notion of space, time and distance and shows mathematically that the sky above you may not exist. Bilgi says that this combination evokes rather childish questions, a great advantage when trying to be creative. It also gives him courage when his company asks him to design the impossible.


Jason Veltz

For a much more physical hobby, we have Jason Veltz, an Industrial Designer for Black and Decker HHI in Lake Forest, California. For the past two years, Jason has been spearfishing and lobstering for Halibut and Rock Lobster in the coves around Laguna Beach and La Jolla. Something to bear in mind here is that Halibut have razor sharp teeth that will take your fingers clean off (not good for the design career). Jason also loves the feeling of vulnerability he experiences swimming around barefoot and half naked looking for his dinner; all the while having this lingering suspicion that something is eyeing him for dinner. It gives him a real sense of his place in the food chain; you know, a little survival of the fittest never hurt anybody.


Monique D‚Arcy
Another designer with a dangerous hobby is Monique D‚Arcy, a point of purchase designer in Dublin, Ireland. Monique is an experienced surfer and kayaker. One day when she was in high school her kayaking class went down to the beach and found that there was no surf. So, her kayaking instructor introduced the class to the madness known as cliff diving. Monique is afraid of heights so it takes her a bit of effort to jump, but she loves the rush she gets on the way down. Now, whenever she is down at the beach and the surf is flat, off a cliff she goes! I guess if you need to add a little excitement to your day at the beach, that will do it. Spearfishing, cliff-diving: kids, don't try these at home.


Joe Moya

We have to close with a very "manly‚" hobby: chopper building. Joe Moya, former chair of IDSA-NY and a Product Development Consultant in New York City, builds choppers in his spare time. About seven years ago, Joe started his own business and found that there was a lot of "down time‚" between landing accounts and finding new clients. To blow off steam, he started picking up a wrench during the day and working on motorcycles. Three years ago he graduated up to his chopper, a bike that keeps evolving to this day. He gets great satisfaction from building a piece of Seventies Americana simply by exercising his design skills and adding a little elbow grease. It should be noted that when Joe moved his consultancy to a New York Loft, he even put the chopper next to his desk. I bet that got his clients' attention.

There you have it, seven designers and seven hobbies. I would like to thank those of you who submitted and those of you who made the last column so popular. If you have something cool that you are into and would like to be included in the next installment, simply follow this link,

Darwin Keith-Lucas, while not designing cool cordless tools for Porter-Cable, pursues many out-of-the-studio hobbies. Currently, he and his father are building a 45-foot steel yacht from scratch. They bought a set of plans from a reputable company in Florida and had the steel laser-cut in Holland. They weld it together piece by piece. He says it's not unlike building a model except that some of the pieces weigh 700 lbs. Using a small crane for maneuverability, the project should take about three years to complete.


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