A transformative museum visit in Germany inspired a career path that led to Anvil Studios, her product design firm on Capitol Hill.
What do you do? I am a partner and designer at Anvil Studios, Inc., a boutique product design consultancy located on Capitol Hill. Products I’ve worked on include carbon fiber bicycles, wearable technology and high-end audio.
How did you get started in that field? I was originally studying art in college, but switched to design after visiting the Bauhaus Archive while an exchange student in Germany. Before that visit, I had thought the Bauhaus was about architecture, and I didn’t have any clue what industrial design was. I was immediately hooked; I mean, imagine getting paid to make stuff like coffee pots! It was the coolest thing I could think of doing with my life, and I switched majors as soon as I returned home.
What’s a typical day like? There is pretty much nothing typical about any given day, other than I typically check email first thing in the morning and usually spend the workday in my studio on Capitol Hill.
My design partner, Greg Janky, and I will often grab our iPads and spend an afternoon sketching in the Cloud Room or a local cafe. Being a small business means we both pretty much have to wear a lot of different hats. So some days are spent doing the fun, creative design work like sketching or building CAD models — and those are clearly the best days.
But some days can be completely filled with scheduling meetings and planning projects, emailing/calling clients, lining up new work, booking business trips, meeting with the accountant, updating our portfolio or other marketing type tasks, and of course we both get to do even the small tasks like buying studio supplies and emptying the garbage.
One thing that’s important to both of us is that we consistently have one evening a week to grab a drink together and talk shop. We find this is pretty vital to hashing out things that can get missed during the usual day-to-day activities. It’s also a nice lifestyle.
What’s the best part of the job? I really love the whole design process, which is basically a creative and iterative approach to problem solving. When we start a new project, we don’t typically have any preconceived ideas about where the design is going to go. I think it’s really fun to jump into a new segment or category and learn and evaluate it with a fresh perspective. From there, we conceptualize our designs ideas through sketching and then building 3-D CAD models that we 3-D print for real-world evaluation.
Basically I get to spend my workdays designing with one of my best friends, which is a great way to make a living!