BackGround – Tim Rochford

Tim's shiny cure for traffic congestion - you're welcome, world.

Tim’s shiny cure for traffic congestion – you’re welcome, world.

Hello again, readers/viewers (we have pictures too, and I like pictures). This is Tim. Tim loves riding bikes, which makes him an excellent human being. Tim is from Adelaide, but now lives in sunny England. Tim has worked for James Dyson and other fancy designers like that Miller guy who makes chairs or something. Anyway, you should listen to his wisdom, cos if you don’t, your next prospective employer will probably yell at you for being ignorant, and then throw things at you, and you don’t want that. You want cookies and praise from a prospective employer – and here’s how to get em.


Can you recall any situations or environments or objects or animals or people which/who have inspired you to create?

For me, creativity usually comes after a serious period of research and really trying to get to the bottom of a problem. So, as a result the inspiration to create comes from properly understanding what you are trying to fix.

On another note, often when I’m out on a beach or in the country and I see a piece of rubbish or similar, I get inspired by the responsibility we have as product designers to simply make things better. Change is an inspiration in itself.

Do you have a set methodology for coming up with new ideas, or does your pure amazingness allow you to just happen upon them during the course of your day?

I’ve often thought one of the hardest parts of Design is defining your problem. It’s like writing a good essay, you need to have a quality question first and if you misinterpret the question you can screw it from the start.

To get to the bottom of my ideas I really need to be out on the bike. I don’t think it’s a conscious thing that I go and do but I do find that when I’m suffering up a climb or dodging a pine tree the research and ideas that have been swimming around in my head get organised into a semi coherent structure. The trick then is to get home before I get so knackered I forget absolutely everything.

What do you do (or where you go) to open your mind?

As above, out on the bike is a great way to get your thoughts in order. I do just like to go somewhere natural such as a beach. Even the little parks and woodlands around where I live can be great places to unwind. I grew up in a quite natural part of the Adelaide Hills and I still love getting out in nature, I find it really calming.

Do you carry a notebook, or voice recorder, or camera (actually, a phone can do all those things…) wherever you go?

I do still carry a small note book but I still often find myself writing on scraps of paper or on my hand. I had this idea of post-it-pants, trousers which have lots of little pockets that can store all my notes. Think it will get kickstarter funding?


Do you remember anything from your first job hunt: feelings, interviews, resume, method of contact…

I remember feeling a little lost. It was a bit of a bad time for R&D in Australia. The financial crisis had hit and it didn’t look like many places were hiring. I had this crazy email provider which meant that all my emails went right into the junk folder of anyone who used Outlook and I only found out after six months. This certainly didn’t help. I grabbed any design work that I could get my hands on, did some free work experience and just tried to build my CV up. Eventually I started to look overseas and approached Dyson, within a month or so I was over in the UK.

What would you suggest is necessary for a successful design/arts job hunt?

A good attitude is a great start and be prepared to take a few solid kicks. You might have been a top gun in uni but there are going to be lots of people in a very similar situation going for these positions. Keep working at it and don’t give up if a career in R&D is what you want.

How do you execute a great job interview?

Just be yourself. Well, I should say be yourself if you’re honest and attentive, if that’s not who you are.. ummm, have you considered working in investment banking?

Tell the truth, I know that’s not especially big news. You should know about the company and why you want to work for them, because you’ve done your research, tell them why, don’t blow smoke but be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is contagious and if you’re enthusiastic about a position and a company, employers will pick up on that.

Be confident but not cocky. Nobody wants to talk to a fresh grad who thinks they are Sir Jonathan Ives, Mark Newson, George Nelson and both Eames-es rolled into one super-designer. Confidence and believing in yourself and your ideas is always key but you should always be humble and willing to listen as well.

How much sleep is enough sleep?

I’m a bit of a home body these days and I do like my sleep so I’m going to say 8 hours is just enough. I can get by with 6 at a pinch, which I’m told is the best if you want to live ‘till your 100. I’m trying to get up earlier and earlier as I’m now convinced the most productive part of the day is from about 6-8am.

Do you embrace new technologies in your work?

I’m lucky in that the largest of my roles have been designing and developing new technologies and systems.

Have you won any awards?

Not personally, some of the products I’ve worked on may have. I did get a bit despondent when my final Uni project didn’t make the second round of the Dyson awards – 6 months later I was working there.

What are some of the most powerful/memorable lessons you learned on the job?

Design is very rarely a solo exercise. It is usually collaboration and sometimes a battle. You need to learn how to communicate your ideas effectively to a range of people and also understand the language that they use. You might be working with other designers, marketing, engineers or management and need to be able to communicate clearly.

Back your ideas, but be realistic. As a designer your ideas are important, and sometimes they might be really good. You should believe in yourself and be prepared to answer when someone asks you ‘why?’ However don’t be dogmatic, other people can be right too.


What are some of the most powerful/memorable lessons you learned while studying?

Get organised. We all make things much harder than they need to be by leaving them to the last minute. Make a little plan, break projects down into manageable steps and try and stick to it.

If I could go back I’d probably focus less on my grades and look more at producing more work and getting out and building a network. Focusing too much on my studies probably left me without much of a plan when I finished uni.

Do you learn best by doing, seeing, reading, hearing, or a mixture of some, or all of them?

All of them in parts but doing has to be number one. You’ll only ever master anything by doing it over and over again. What is the saying about it takes a thousand hours to become a master of anything?


What was the greatest animated series ever made?

Greatest ever?! Too hard. I’m absolutely loving a show called Archer at the moment it’s James Bond with the mind of a teenage boy.

(Didn’t Bond have the mind of a teenage boy in the films anyway? – queue the 400,000 bad bond puns: “I thought Christmas only comes once a year,” & “I have been known to keep my tip up.”)

What the fuck were they thinking when they made the second series of Voltron?

Well the first one rocked my tiny little child mind so why not give it another crack.

(Because then you end up with something face-crampingly terrible, like the second season)

What are you listening to?

It sounds really boring but I listen to a lot of news and current affairs shows on the old BBC as well as English language services from radio Netherlands and Deutche Welle. With all the craziness happening in the world at the moment it’s nice to know where the next bonkers thing is coming from and get perspective from other places.

Music wise I will listen to any old indie stuff, at the moment I really like Howler, Spector and the Kooks and about 10 other bands that sound very similar. Strokes are always a staple. Always have a bit of RAM and NOFX for when I’m out riding on my own.

What are you reading?

I just finished a Christopher Moore novel, The Gospel According to Biff, which was excellent. Now I’m reading A Confederacy of Dunces which I have been looking forward to reading for ages.

How do you feel about unicorns?

Just a fancy horse right? You can dress a horse up however you want someone is still going to pop it into a lasagne.


Thanks a bunch!

Be well,



2 thoughts on “BackGround – Tim Rochford

  1. Pingback: Launching a design career | Indaily's Blog

  2. Pingback: Launching a design career | Flinders Indaily

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