Aim of these interviews is to inform about CMF designers, a professional whom works closely with fashion and technology, industrialization and marketing.

Since 1996 the passion and unique perspective of  Shawn Campbell, have helped him to create breakthrough designs of transportation and consumer products for leading companies. Some of them includes: EVS Sports, Foot Locker / Eastbay, General Motors / Chevrolet, Harman Kardon, Hewlett Packard, Jennair, Kawasaki, KitchenAid, Mattel, Maytag, Whirlpool and Volvo.

His specialties includes Color & Trim Design, Product Design and Sarcasm.

Interview to Shawn Campbell

Who is Shawn Campbell?

I am a veteran American designer with a multi faceted background currently working in a historic automobile design studio. I’m also known by my colleagues as a smart-ass and sarcasm aficionado!

What is for you a designer CMF?

I have been called a “CMF Designer”, a “Color & Materials Designer” as well my current title of “Color & Trim Designer”. Although various industries may give my profession a unique name, to me the role is the same… the job of a CMF Designer is to enhance the emotional connection between the product and the consumer (a very simple explanation for a very complex solution).

What did you study to undertake this profession?

I took a very long route to get where I am now. Various opportunities and life events caused my career to take many interesting twists and turns. In college I studied Fine Art and Graphic Design. This gave me a great basic overview of the creative process. I’ve always loved to work with my hands and build things. That led me to further my education with Product Design which gave me a good understanding of form language and functional aesthetics. It was while working inside an Industrial Design studio that I got my first taste of CMF Design and I quickly determined that as a CMF Designer I could apply all of my acquired design skills which really appealed to me.

How would you describe your work?

In recent years I’ve found that baking metaphors help explain my work!
Imagine the Product Development Process is like baking a cake:  If an Engineer creates a recipe, than a Studio Designer (or Industrial Designer) uses the recipe to craft a beautiful & elaborate cake. The role of a CMF Designer is to create a fantastic frosting / icing that not only tastes great, but also makes the customer want the product so badly they salivate for it and desire it (no matter what the cost). Its important to note that there is a big difference between CMF Design and decoration.
A truly great product will have CMF involvement from the recipe stage through the styling stage so that all factors which truly appeal to the consumer are baked in from the start.

Being “Colour and Material” designer involves a great responsibility within a company. But it is still unclear how this figure occurs during the design of a product. Tell us how you get involved?

In addition to my previous answer, Its important to note that a lot of design teams don’t understand the work CMF does. When I am given an assignment, I try to get involved with the entire team. This not only connects me with them, but also gives me an opportunity to display my process and show the team how CMF will add value to the product. If its done correctly CMF is not a stage of development, its a seamless ingredient that extends through the entire process.

A designer CMF must be up to date on trends. How do you collect information to inspire the design for new product?

Like a lot of studios, we have memberships to a few of those expensive “trend” subscription websites. To be honest, I prefer not to use them. They never seem to cover what I need or want to investigate. For me, the best way to stay ahead of trends is to observe what is going on… I believe that great Designers are curious by nature. they want to be part of the next big trend versus sitting in front of a computer screen. Inspiration is the outcome when I can see, hear and feel what is going on in a target market.

Tell us about a project you are particularly proud?

Since I am an avid motorcycle and car lover, I am most proud of the work I have been doing in the automobile industry over the last few years. Working at General Motors Design Center inside the Color & Trim Studio has been a fantastic blend of my personal passions and professional interests. Although the GM projects I have been involved with are still confidential at this point, I can say that I’m proud to have made significant contributions to a very progressive passenger vehicle that will be cruising the countryside in a few short years. Outside of my automobile work, I am proud of the CMF work I did at KitchenAid on their iconic Stand Mixer. During my time working on these trend based finishes, I created many appealing colors. I am the most proud of “Canopy Green” which resulted from my original idea of creating colors for the various global marketing regions. Not only is Canopy Green a sales leader in its home region of Brazil, it was also cited by the Pantone Institute as inspiration for Emerald, their 2013 Color of the Year!

What difficulties can meet a designer working CMF? Do you remember a particular experience?

There are difficulties throughout the product development process. Sometimes in the middle of a development, decisions are made that drastically impact CMF. I have been on multiple projects where the budget has been tightened in the middle of the program. In some cases creative material solutions can keep you on track, but there are times when fantastic proposals must be discarded due to their cost. Those are challenging days, but hopefully you gain knowledge from that experience for the next time.

What suggestions would you give to those who would like to pursue your career?

For those interested in CMF Design, some of the traits you will need are:
  1. Design foundation (Knowledge and skills).
  2. Communication and negotiating skills.
  3. Naturl curiosity about what causes people to make decisions/purchases.
  4. Ability to soak up new trends and inspiration using unlikely and non-existant resources.
  5. A sense of humor!