Andrew Berno makes things
Andrew Berno is a designer, CAD monkey, metal worker, and the Director General of the Beard Elite. He has taken time out from his high flying job as an industrial designer with WILDDESIGN in Germany to slum it with RESCRUB and share his learnings. Andrew is handsome and hardworking, and enjoys making wine, grinding metal things into dust, singing sea shanties, and extreme barbie jeep racing. Behold his words as he delivered them unto us.
Is planning your career important?
G’day Heath (HI!), cheers for asking for me to partake in Rescrub, this is awesome. (Thanks Berno!) So, planning your career; as for a typical plan – well as the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. But I would heartily say it’s important to have a sense of direction of where you want to head, and know what you need to do to head in that direction, but also to be open enough for alternatives/opportunities, especially at the start of your career.
As for an example with myself – my aim was to get overseas for experience and now I’m over in Germany!
What did you do as a student, outside of course work, to prepare yourself for industry; and do you have any advice for current students?
Before I studied Industrial Design, I grew up in my father’s fabrication business and from a teenager, worked part-time in the business. This gave me a really good base-knowledge of how things are made, of different materials and processes, and getting my hands dirty.
Later on I gained experience with a repetitive machining company and I was more involved with working with clients, mass production of turned parts, assembling components, and also got basic CNC programming/operating knowledge. So this experience has giving me a really good understanding of ‘Design for Manufacturing’ and is well suited for an Industrial Design career.
As with another Rescrub interviewee, Tomek, who also at times shared that same experience with me in my father’s workshop and I believe this is what gave him that passion for being in the workshop making things, which helped lead to a job he loves. So I think it’s important for current students to be involved in situations which they can draw upon for when they are looking for a job. If they want to do furniture, work in a timber yard, furniture making company, furniture reseller or take some kind of small courses outside uni. Or Fashion, work as a seamstress etc, Industrial Design, manufacturing business, take drawing courses. Something that has good relevance for what you want to do after graduation.
What was your first design job, and how did you land it?
The first real professional job I got was with a local Adelaide manufacturer – I was recommended to them by another of your rescrub stars, Mark, as it was one of his clients. They were looking for someone short-term that could work as CAD modeller. This was perfect for me because I was already set to head over to Germany this year and it improved my CAD skills. Funny thing was, my boss didn’t even know what Industrial Design was, but about 2 months in, the marketing lady found out what I could do and gave me an opportunity in designing their new remote control, which actually should be coming out soon.
After this I was involved with exhibition design, graphics, branding and product documentation before finishing up and heading over here to Germany for an internship with an Industrial Design consultancy which now just employed me until the end of my visa. (hooray for you!)
When you started your first design job, did you feel prepared, or overwhelmed (or a charming mixture of both)?
As I said previously, I wasn’t even employed as a designer, but during that remote control project I felt nervous, but I was confident I could handle it and I didn’t have time to worry because within two full days I had the core design direction, hand foam models made, CAD modelled up and presented to the directors who were over from interstate. But I do remember feeling excited about my first real design and should get that feeling when I see it in the hands of people in the future.
In the current creative climate, is it important to have a broad skillset?
I think I’m a real jack-of-all-trades kind of guy, and I do think you need to have a broad skill set, but as your career develops especially in design, you need to be highly proficient/knowledgeable in one area/skill set. This is what YOU can really bring to a team and/or design project and what will make you competitive.
Another major point is knowing what the demographics of your employment region are and the skill sets they draw upon or require – I think the university I attended pushes students skill sets/knowledge to what is most employable for them in the near future, not what they all hope to get from looking at design businesses on the internet, because realistically a majority will stay local due to many different reasons and be employed with local businesses.
What does a typical work-day look like for you?
Fortunately, the company I’m at in Germany is pretty relaxed; this is not the usual stereotype for Germans. I live in a flat with the other interns across from the company so we wander in after 9am and at the moment I’m on the main project and the DFM phase for the last 5 months so it’s straight to CAD and basically go until my project leader has left and I run out of tasks for the day. Usually I finish around 6 or 7pm, some days I’ll continue to 9pm if I have enough work to keep me going.
Do you have a set methodology when you work on projects?
I like to have good brief with the right amount of constraints, a broader perspective/knowledge of the desired outcome, good research or answers to questions I have before I begin designing – this tends to focus me on the problem to resolve however it generally doesn’t allows for more outside the box ideas which can be gold –
Do you carry a notebook, or voice recorder, or camera (actually, a phone can do all those things…) wherever you go?
Bahaha well I have a reputation with phones, and not a good one (dear readers – if there was a competition for losing phones in increasingly creative and complicated ways, Andrew Berno would be the champion of the world), so I can’t do all those things but even so, I don’t carry around with me anything other than my wallet and keys. I do have a small notebook that has my main ideas to work on but if I’m out and have an idea I got to get it on paper, or I’ll record it on a serviette.
Have you had any mentors along the way, and what effect did they have on you?
I haven’t had any such mentors but there are a number of people I look toward from different parts of my life with different experiences, and I seek their opinions on whatever I’m not 100% sure on, or need some feedback. It’s good to have some people you can go to to get some genuine, rational opinions and then make your decision based on all the information you have.
How important is it to be part of a supportive creative community? Would you suggest students immerse themselves in their local creative community?
I think it’s important to be part of that community, both for getting the creative juices flowing, seeing new amazing things that can spark an idea, and also having those connections that could work for you in the future. However, I also think you need to get away from the creative environment/community too, do a bit of hard work, get dirty, deal with other professionals, a kind of back-to-reality because sometimes the creative world you immerse yourself in can get a bit fluffy. (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. You are awesome)
What are some of the most powerful/memorable lessons you learned on the job?
My quick 3 are:
- When you can, or if it’s feasible, keep iterating – sometimes you do loops that prove your thinking, sometimes you get a jackpot idea
- The obvious double-check – then check again
- Especially after long projects, it’s that last 10% which really counts – it’s also mentally the toughest part and the part that can make something look unfinished or look really special.
Do you feel a responsibility to give back to your design community?
Most certainly! I have had others spend their own time to help me, show me things, give feedback, be a mentor etc. You would be a selfish wanker if you did not give back. Now I try helping with sharing knowledge I find, resources that could be helpful to others, and possible contacts I’ve made for jobs/internships that could help others.
In the future when I gain more experience and return back home to Adelaide, I look forward to be able to give back more and help those new ambitious designers to succeed.
What do you do to unwind?
Friday night beers with my mates, winemaking and small road trip adventures.
What music are you listening to?
Bahaha at the moment I’m listening/streaming the ashes while I’m on the CAD at work but mostly it’s just mixes on soundcloud, and for a while there, the flight facilities decade mix got a hammering on the headphones.
Who are your favourite authors?
Haven’t got a favourite author as I never used to read much but my bible is Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals by Rob Thompson and currently I’m reading Green Metropolis by David Owen, and a book on Brand Asset Management bahaha
Who/what inspires you?
My old man. If I could be half the man he was I’d be a bloody top bloke. Other than him, those people or professionals who have a real passion for what they do, and like to share it and help others.
Could you explain string theory in a single tweet?
My String Theory is the phenomenon when you have a bundle of string and you always manage to get a knot in it. As for string theory, I have no idea what you’re talking about mate.
Andrew Berno, you are a gem.