One of my projects is to collect information on CMF design experience. During my career, I realized how difficult is to find information regarding this role. I hope that the testimonials collected help young students, Companies, and Human resources to understand better what exactly it means to be a CMF designer. All CMF designers have the same ambition: improve the understanding of this complex, curious, funny discipline!
You are a Principal CMF designer at Sigma Connectivity but who is Sangwoo Cho? Try to describe yourself.
My name is Sangwoo, Cho and am working as a designer in CMF field. I completed Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Seoul, Korea and started a professional career as a designer at Samsung mobile design group. Then, I moved to Sweden and accumulated my career as a senior CMF designer at Sony Ericsson and Sony Mobile Nordic design center, and currently, I am working as a principal CMF designer in the Experience design labs of Sigma group in Sweden.
What did you study to undertake this profession?
I majored in industrial design for both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree and studied consumer products and vehicle design.
Who or what inspired you to become a Designer CMF?
I encountered the CMF design field when I worked in mobile design team of Samsung Electronics. I saw infinite possibilities of CMF design in consumer products which led me to work and continue my career in this field.
What is for you a Colour, Material and Finish designer and how would you describe your work?
As the very last step among general development process factors of engineering, software, quality, and design, I believe it is an important field of ‘finishing’ products by considering the needs and trend of users. Also, I believe that it determines an overall image of products depending on how the finishing work is progressed.
A Designer CMF must be up to date on trends. How do you collect information to inspire the design of a new product?
Sweden, the “Scandinavian design heritage” of Nordic countries, where I work in provides great inspiration and ideas to designers. Not only ideas they get in everyday life, but they gain inspiration by participating in variously related exhibitions around the world and draw results by collaborating with trend agencies. Not only that, but they also receive a myriad of inspiration in their ordinary life as local antique care, simple architecture of library, or scenes of historic street. Especially, recently I have just released my personal website in terms of “Photography” which gives me great inspiration with colors, textures, lighting and layout design.
Can you tell me what area of CMF design do you specialize in?
I accumulated professional experience in design of the mobile product field, a cutting-edge sector that represents the period, as a mobile phone and smart wearable, and currently, I am in charge of the CMF design of IoT products (Internet Of Things) with diverse global partner companies.
What is the most unusual place that you have visited and what do you learned for your job?
This is Menorca island in Spain I visited last year. Visual and texture of amazing and rich natural landscape and unrealistic color of the ocean were truly an amazing experience. Of course, beautifully designed products or objects inspire me, but I don’t think there is nothing as infinite ‘treasure warehouse’ as nature.
What is your best project that you have worked on and why?
This is the smartwatch series I recently worked on. It is a wearable device that needs to be worn directly on user’s body, so it helped me to experience many things as an ergonomic approach through studies on characteristics of environmentally friendly materials to the human body and excavation process.
What difficulties can meet a designer working CMF? Do you remember a particular experience?
The market environment of various countries makes a lot of influence on CMF design. For example, culture and living characteristics of India are very different even when they flash across our mind. And the localization process is not always easy. It requires the process of understanding their culture and trend of each region and grafting them on design and market feedback after releasing a new product is also an important factor of design in the future.
How do you look into the future with your job?
If my main career was mobile product oriented, I expect it to be expanded to the furniture, interior, automobile, and fashion based on the IoT product area that I am currently working on.
What is your opinion on the future of CMF design ie what is the change?
It is currently limited to the hardware sector but I expect it to be combined with software in the future. I believe factors that have been exposed on the outside as color, material, texture, and pattern will be contained inside and create an entirely new field.
What is your opinion on the changes in the global market fairs?
I believe the boundary between products will disappear more quickly. For example, cars would appear in an interior exhibition and mobile products would be introduced in fashion exhibition. Ultimately, every product group will be “connected” in any way and I believe that the boundary of each field that has been clearly classified will become less distinct.
Being Designer CMF involves a great responsibility within a company. But it is still unclear how this figure occurs during the design of a product. How you get involved?
The majority of global enterprises that I have experienced operate the CMF design team separately and participate in the entire development process of products as a vital step. And the timing and method of participation are very different due to project characteristics. The ‘flexibility’ applies according to a variety of characteristics of the project as launching area, price range, and target age group.
What suggestions would you give to those who would like to pursue your career?
It is various experiences. I believe that ‘inspiration,’ the most important factor in the design field, comes from this diverse experience and story. ‘Inspiration’ always exists in a local antique café that I stop by every day, architectural structure of a library I go to with children, and the grandeur of nature that I feel in a travel destination. As said, designers can find infinite inspirational factors in everyday life, not office space. I think this is another attraction of ‘designer.’
(…) This is the smartwatch series I recently worked on. It is a wearable device that needs to be worn directly on user’s body, so it helped me to experience many things as an ergonomic approach through studies on characteristics of environmentally friendly materials to the human body and excavation process.