From components to finished products
Seyi developed a fascination with building things from an early age. His grandfather was a military engineer and inspired Seyi to pursue becoming a professional “maker.” He actually started his career as an apprentice with a construction company. “I still remember looking at a pile of wood and realizing that soon, it would become an entire house,” he says.
As an undergrad, he studied mechanical engineering and jumped right into making physical products after graduation, taking a role at a furniture company. He even traveled to Taiwan, where he began becoming more interested in design as a discipline. Finally, he decided to pursue a career that brought together his experience with engineering and his growing passion for design.
“I didn’t even know there was such a job as ‘industrial design.’ As a kid, I only heard about a few kinds of jobs: doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc. But design can be a very rewarding career, both creatively and financially,” Seyi says. So, he decided to continue his education. While working on his graduate degree at the Royal College of Art, he met Daniela, and the rest is history. “Making software was a bit of a shift, but it’s been really exciting,” he says.
Prototypes as a common language
Daniela brought up the idea that designers, engineers, marketers, finance team members, etc. all speak different languages. The language preferred by designers tends to be more visual, while other groups tend toward the written. However, Seyi shares that engineering and design in particular do speak the same language, but different dialects.
“Discussing ideas in 3D really brings the two dialects together,” he says. “And when there’s a physical model to hold, it can really align multiple groups.” Seyi sees prototypes and models as one of the most important stages of the design process, as seeing and touching a physical object puts everyone on the same page. As Daniela puts it, “We exist in 3D. We interact with objects in 3D. We build products for 3D. It’s not surprising that 3D language is one that we’re all familiar with.”
Addressing friction in the product development process
It can be strange to think of a software tool like Gravity Sketch as a “conversational tool.” Typically, software is meant to solve specific technical problems or user pain points. Outside of video conferencing and instant messaging platforms, it’s not often considered a technological conversation starter.
However, that’s exactly what both Seyi and Daniela call it. “It’s not just about solving a client’s problem—it’s about making them aware of problems,” he says. “That awareness is what drives those hard conversations that eventually lead to improved workflows, clearer communication, and innovation across the organization.” He goes on to explain that people notice areas of friction in their design processes, but articulating what that friction is can be hard. Gravity Sketch helps teams more accurately define those specific challenges so they can be addressed.
Adopting new ways of working together
Sometimes these conversations lead to entirely new and highly creative ways of collaborating as a team. Seyi brought up New Balance as an example. About seven years ago, the team decided they wanted to create an entirely three-dimensional product development process. Gravity Sketch ended up being a key part of that long-term initiative, and now they’ve finally achieved their goal.
In Seyi’s mind, these innovative mindsets come from either the top down or bottom up. Either there’s a visionary in the C-suite who wants to completely change the way the company does things, and the design team fully embraces that vision. Or there’s a designer or engineer who plays with new ways of working in their spare time and their ideas gain momentum across the organization. According to Seyi, both starting points are valid, and he’s glad Gravity Sketch can help facilitate either path.
A design tool by designers, for designers
Daniela admits that there are few software companies that have a designer in the CEO or co-founder role. Gravity Sketch is an obvious exception, and Seyi says that he always wants the organization to have a designer in the top spot. “Gravity Sketch is a tool we’ve always wanted, as designers. We’re built for that,” he says. “We want creative people to have a tool that they can push to its limits and use in new ways.”
When asked to describe what Gravity Sketch does, Seyi says, “We facilitate great conversations in 3D. We’re the bridge between one stage of the product development process and the next. We help great ideas become great products through great communication.”
And he doesn’t leave the customer out, adding that the Gravity Sketch team is always learning from how clients use the platform and gathering their feedback to make the tool even more effective. He hopes the company continues to be an active partner with other firms that are working on innovative and creative ways of working together and communicating in 3D.
More from Around
You can listen to all the Around Design Podcast episodes, or watch previous sessions from the Around 3D Design Festival — all on the Around website.
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