Who: Ken Jewell
Company: Design Continuum, Inc.
Has held title for: 18 months
Previous title: Product Designer
Degree: BA in Industrial Design, Art Center College of Design
At Continuum, a highly regarded design firm headquartered in West Newton, Massachusetts, the mission is clear: Design products that are better and more innovative than ever for such clients as BMW, Polaroid, and Mattel. Creating ideas that are worth working on can be a daunting challenge. Ken Jewell's job is to help envision great ideas and to communicate them to the company's design team.
How do you envision a breakthrough product?
By sitting back and observing people. I'm usually inspired just by watching people do what they normally do. I develop ways to be around people who use a particular product, and then I come back to our team and begin brainstorming: What did I see? How might this product work better?
What do you like best about being a full-time envisioner?
Being an observer of life, and seeing interesting things in the mundane. I enjoy finding intriguing insights that could make life easier, safer, or better for thousands of people.
How many of your visions actually become reality?
It's a bit difficult to say, because I only help design concepts. Engineers, technologists, and industrial designers then transform those concepts into products. In a final product, I might see the essence or the spirit of my vision, but the vision itself is only a means to an end.
A version of this article appeared in the March 2000 issue of Fast Company magazine.