Boardseeker continues with the Industry Masters series, this time finding out more about the life of Bjoern Zedlick, a designer working closely with Quatro and Goya.
Occupation and company
Studio Director at Vousht
What did you study and what was your dream job when you were younger?
I studied industrial design at the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel, Germany, back then a university course that focussed on form follows function, not so much on slick looks. While there, it was my dream to work for DesignworksUSA, BMW’s creative pool. I succeeded in fulfilling that dream, but reached the corporate overkill after two years and quit to start my own consultancy and work for Francisco, amongst others.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first exposure working in the design world was an internship at Volkswagen’s design headquarters, but my first real job was said position at DesignworksUSA in Munich.
How did you progress into the job you have now?
Many sleepless nights contemplating whether it’s simply mildly or truly utterly insane to leave BMW and then ultimately walking up to the studio director one very early morning to hand over the keys to the studio, a flight to Maui already booked. By that time the only project on the horizon was the redesign of the Goya logo. That’s the very first thing I did, coming to Haiku.
What are you looking to do in your career in the future?
I am very drawn to working with companies that focus on shifting their portfolio in a substantially ecological direction. I am no friend of greenwashing or greenwriting. I’d love to see actual products that we can feel good about from a producer as well as a consumer perspective. My goal would be to work on products that are not merely “less bad" but truly healthy and sustainable. I’m a big fan of the cradle to cradle idea, and while it’s a lofty goal, it won’t happen unless we start rolling up our sleeves. Working for a windsurfing company, where pretty much every other component is not exactly organic, sure is a hard place to start, but I guess that’s just the kind of challenge I have been looking for.
What is your advice for others wishing to get into a similar career?
Start with a good education. Style is something you have in your blood or develop over time, but the fundamental basics and processes knowledge that’s something totally worth going to school for. Now, in the windsurfing industry, it sure also helps to know the sport, and I guess I should add a duh to that. Understanding the functionality. Sharing the passion. Sometimes that even means appreciating a mechanism that’s been unchanged for 30 years.
Day to Day
Haha, I’m not sure a typical workday even exists when working for Goya, Quatro, 211 and KT. Simply because of the scope of work I deliver. There’s always stuff to do. Products, graphics, renderings, website pages, banners, shirts, photography, writing, you name it.
I’ll usually start in the morning with checking and responding to emails. Sometimes, especially when hands on work is demanded, this might take up to the entire day. I’m at the end of the food chain, I don’t have anyone to forward and delegate tasks to, I’m the one to actually sit there for three hours. So at times, when I feel like it might be a very creative day, I don’t even check emails until later or the next day, so as to not lose the momentum and the inspiration.
Say I’m working on board graphics, trowing around ideas, no strings attached, in such a moment it would totally throw me off to receive an email request for resizing ten online banners. Trivial tasks. Still important, but poisonous for creativity.
I thoroughly enjoy getting together with the guys on Maui while I’m there. I usually go about once or twice a year for an extended time. Many new ideas come to life during those months. For actually sitting down and spelling out designs I prefer to have silence and focus though, most of the time that’s just not possible in the Haiku office, simply because it’s right in there with the store. It’s so busy, so much going on. I love it though. The brands are not a secret any more after all.
Working times also vary depending on what I’m working on and whether fires need to be put out. One day I may be done with all tasks at 3 PM while on another day I might not even find my creativity kicking in until late at night, and that’s when an all-nighter is inevitable.
If you find yourself in a creative moment, you better run with it. It can’t be controlled. And it certainly does not come on with the flip of a switch at 9, neither does it stop at 5. So yeah, be prepared for odd hours at times.
But then again, if you’re a windsurfer, especially in Europe, you know all about having to be spontaneous anyway, taking off a Thursday afternoon because that particular wind direction might only happen a couple of times a year.