Known widely for his ceramic speaker and Sorapot teapot designs, industrial designer Joey Roth has made a name for himself over the past five years by delivering unique products that preserve and highlight their natural material qualities. His ingenious ceramic speakers alone set the internet on fire when they were first released and continue to sell out to both design aficionados and audiophiles alike.
But perhaps what makes the San Francisco-born industrial designer stand out among the noisy crowd is his ability to not just create products that people want to buy – he actually independently brings them to market effectively and keeps them there without sizzling out.
“Joey Roth picked himself. He picked himself to bring his wooden compass to the world,” said marketing expert, author and friend Seth Godin. “And his stunning Ceramic Speakers. And his handmade, self-watering planters. By picking himself and (most of all) by making work that resonates, he brings his art to people who care about it, daily.”
Roth recently teamed up with the popular online learning community Skillshare to offer a class that breaks down his process in an effort to help inspire others to get their product design ideas out into the open, too.
Titled Product Design: How to Launch Successful Products, Roth begins the one-hour course with an inspiration and sketching primer before moving into CAD and manufacturing. The class culminates with what is perhaps Roth’s own most valuable skill: marketing your products.
In addition to breaking down the design process, Roth also discusses ways of getting your product into the world with a variety of strategies including developing an attractive landing page as well as considering a strategic Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platform route.
“Join acclaimed product designer Joey Roth for a behind-the-scenes look at how products come to life.
This hour-long class is a journey brimming with real-world insights, creative vision, and tactics for a successful launch in the marketplace. Joey shares his philosophy on design; offers practical tips for working with stakeholders, manufacturers, and marketers; and uses examples from his own work to show how to successfully negotiate the tension between your initial concept and practical outside forces.
This class is especially geared towards those with an interest in launching their own products, but anyone with an enthusiasm for industrial design, making, and aesthetics will find this class highly engaging. All students are encouraged to present their product ideas in the online gallery and exchange feedback.”
We had the chance to talk with Roth more about his class including who it’s for, what people can get out of it, and what he thinks is the most important skill of them all.
SS: Hi Joey! What’s your background and how did it lead you towards wanting to create this class?
JR: I’ve been practicing design for almost a decade, but had never compiled what I learned into a teachable narrative. I’ve worked with interns and have coached individual designers and companies, but these efforts were focused on specific projects or on solving a limited set of problems. When Skillshare contacted me to do a class, the opportunity to distill my process into something that could inspire and inform others who want to independently launch products was very exciting.
“The class is as much about mindset as it is about the technical and procedural aspects of product design.”
SS: Can you give us a quick run-through of the design process as taught in the class? Who is it for?
JR: My process involves identifying the one or two major features or points of meaning for a new products, building a form around those points, and then exposing the form to progressively more intense doses of reality: sketches, cad, and finally prototyping. At each stage, the form is refined and modified to better facilitate the user’s contact with the points of meaning.
The class would be valuable for anyone who wants to design and launch a new product with a high degree of authorship. It is not limited to industrial design, although this is my point of reference.
SS: As for manufacturing the products – are you focusing on small or large scale manufacturing?
JR: My advice would be most useful for products that will be manufactured by the thousands.
SS: What about crowdfunding? Can people use this class to learn how to bring an idea to life to launch on Kickstarter?
JR: This is a major focus of the “marketing” section.
SS: Finally, what’s the most important ‘skill’ that somebody should walk away with after taking the class?
JR: The class is as much about mindset as it is about the technical and procedural aspects of product design. I’ve found that the creator’s mindset often plays a similar role to technical execution in a product’s success.