Behind the Scenes with Product Designer, Michael Seum
This week SBID interviewed Michael Seum, VP Design at GROHE to discover more about his journey through the interior design industry; from a vision for architecture to finding his calling in product design. Michael gives us the inside scoop on his role as VP Design, the importance of motivation, and even shares his secret for inspiring and maintaining creativity!
Can you describe your current job?
As VP Design for GROHE, my job is to connect creativity with commercial for the company and be the creative horsepower and the biggest advocate of Grohe’s excellent design team. It’s my job to lead a team that focuses not just on consumer needs, but consumers’ desires and we put a lot of passion and emotion in our work.
What is your background and how did you get into interior design?
My background is in industrial design and I started my career with the intention of going into architecture. As a child I was always very curious and a creative nature which I was fortunate enough to have fostered by my parents. However, I have always felt an affinity for space and experience and it was actually this that brought me to product design. I have always been interested in the relation of people to an object or an experience, just like an interior designer does; in this role, I am bringing products that work within the interior space wherever there is a water experience.
Describe an average day in your job role..
Whilst there is no such thing as a truly ‘average’ day in my role, an ideal day would begin with breakfast with my children at home at 7am. I then head to the office at 8.30am where I have a cup of coffee. I’ll check my to do list and walk through the office to see my team. From 10am I jump straight into project work and meetings to make sure projects are moving. This takes most of the morning. I always eat lunch at my desk, around 1pm, for efficiency and in the early afternoon I will spend time catching up on the latest world design news and developments. The rest of the day will revolve around further project work and meetings until I leave the office at 6pm. I go to the gym religiously and believe a healthy mind is good for creativity. I then go home and recharge for the next day.
Which elements of your profession do you enjoy the most and/or find the most rewarding?
Working with a talented team that actually operates as a team and a collective community is incredibly rewarding, especially as it shows in our work.
What are the latest plans for Grohe? Is there anything new you are working on?
We are focused on reframing the relationship we have with water. Whether you are consuming water or using it for hygiene, it’s always going to re-energise us. Without revealing too much, we’re focusing on really meaningful innovations that reframe our relationship to the precious resource of water. You will see this in the coming months, especially as we get closer to the ISH show in Frankfurt.
What do you find the most challenging aspects of your job?
For me, the challenge is the same as the reward; keeping the team motivated. It’s not easy to get a product from a price of paper to a world-wide marketed product and sometimes that can mean working behind the scenes to break down barriers to keep the focus on the long-term design plan. I find keeping a positive mindset helps with this.
What do you wish you knew before working in the field?
I came into the field knowing it would be different every day. But I guess it would have been nice to have known just how diverse it could be. I never expected that I would have the opportunity to work all over the world!
What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?
That extra hour at lunch is not a bad idea!
What has been your favourite project to work on?
The next project, always! For me, the whole reason for being a designer was to take on the challenge of the next project. I love not knowing what could be next, and then drawing inspiration from my experiences so far to make improvements on the next project.
What do you think is the biggest problem the interior design industry faces?
Instagram! There is so much digital influence on a daily basis now that consumers are seeing similar styles echoed. I find that if I want to seek new inspiration then I need to look outside of Instagram. It also surprises me how so many inspiring interior design shots are void of people when, ultimately, these spaces are designed for people.
Which people do you admire the most in the industry and why?
The people I admire most in the industry are very humble; they are the people working behind the scenes, avoiding the limelight but still producing amazing work.
What are you most looking forward to at Sleep + Eat 2018?
I like that Sleep + Eat focuses on a big design topic – the hospitality industry. This interior design sector encompasses a lot of design considerations and, whilst GROHE has a lot of expertise in the sector, I go to the show to learn.
If you were inspired by Michael’s story and want to learn more about interior design, click here.