Interview with Jeff Klok

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Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Jeff Klok (JK) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Jeff Klok by clicking here.

Interview with Jeff Klok at Friday 18th of April 2014
Jeff Klok
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
JK: I have always loved art even from a young age; however I never felt that I would be able to "art" as a vocation so I set about the arduous task of becoming an engineer. It wasn't until I was part way through my university years that I even became aware of the possibility of becoming an Industrial Designer. I instantly fell in love with it as it was the perfect blend of art, science and engineering that I thrive on.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
JK: Amcor is the world's largest packaging supplier as a whole. From there we are broken down into several sub-groups that focus on various kinds of packaging. Personally I work in the Rigid Plastics Latin American Region office near Miami. The Amcor Design Studio develops ideas in packaging for the food, beverage, spirits and personal care markets across the globe. As a design studio we are a group of designers who have a vast array of backgrounds -from automotive and furniture design, to branding and interior design. We are a team that has worked tirelessly to redefine the expectations of a supplier-based design firm and to bring award winning designs to our customers.

FS: What is "design" for you?
JK: "Design" to me is about taking an idea, a feeling, art, and a touch of engineering and combining all of them to create a connection with someone.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
JK: I really enjoy working on projects that allow me to blend all of my skills together. Projects that can combine design with writing, photography, and 3d modeling are always a little more enjoyable.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
JK: Well my favorite design project that I have was when I was in college. I was a finalist in Disney's Imagineering Design Competition. I really thrived on the complexity of designing not only a space, but also a story and an experience. It was a perfect blend of using all of my talents and abilities for one purpose.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
JK: I believe the first product I designed for Amcor was the Sports Container for Aje's Sporade. It was a completely new design for an isotonic brand in Peru that owned approximately 65% of the marketplace.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
JK: Working for Amcor, our primary medium is rigid plastics like PET. While I won’t say it is my favorite material to work with it comes with a lot of challenges. While most designers get to create their designs around color palates and get to select their materials and finishes, PET is primarily used clear meaning you have to design with the end product in mind, not just the package.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
JK: Usually I feel most inspired early in the morning after a large cup of coffee and I have had a chance to get my creative juices flowing.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
JK: My primary focus in a design is generally the interaction that design will have with the consumer. How will it be used, where will it be used, is there any other application for its use, is there any way to improve its use? etc. I always try to start with those questions in mind first and then worry about the form.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
JK: A lot of frustration at times. But in all honesty I love the challenge.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
JK: Elated, it is always a pleasure to see one of your children born after the labor and dedication that goes into a product.

FS: What makes a design successful?
JK: A successful design is one that can make a strong connection with the consumer, whether it’s an emotional connection, a nostalgic connection, or one of desire or ability. If there is a strong connection can be made with the consumer than it will be a more successful product.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
JK: Well, when it comes to packaging my determination is twofold. First it is ascetically. Does the container and label reflect the brand properly? Does the container and label interplay together? Many times when I see packaging that is determined as a "good design" it is because it has a pretty label. But few people give proper consideration to the container itself which requires functionality. Secondly I look at a package and ask if this design ever took into consideration production methods. I have seen some award winning packages that require 2-3 times the amount of material needed to create a similar package. While it may look nice on the shelf, is that really worth the price to the environment?v

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
JK: A designer should always be trying to improve the world and improve the lives of the End User in any way they can. If they can do so with less material, less complexity, or less ecological impact they should. A designer is the originator of the final product. It is up to the designer to look at the complexities of their design and minimize their own impact as much as possible.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
JK: I really think the future is going to reside with designers who can actualize sustainable design practices. To me a design isn't good if it is two steps back from a sustainable aspect. The future of design will be well designed products that reduce cost, reduce material, reduce complexities, but also embrace new materials, methods, and practices.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
JK: My last exhibition was of my photography work in 2007 in Prague. I would love to hold another exhibition in the future, but at the moment have not made any plans to do so.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
JK: My design inspiration comes from all over. I look at everything from Automotive, Tattoos to Nature. I am always keeping my eyes open and analyzing the interplay between forms and shapes.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
JK: My design style generally tends to favor the more sleek simple modern designs. I appreciate designs that are more understated and not flashy. My approach is always that form follows function as a good design to me should always improve the functionality of something.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
JK: I currently live a little outside of Miami. Since my designs are primarily for the Latin American region Miami's Latin cultural influences makes it the perfect place to live. The entire culture, design, architecture, even language in Miami is a derivative of Latin influences. It is like living in another country culturally while still living in the States.

FS: How do you work with companies?
JK: I prefer to work as close to hand in hand as I possibly can with our clients even in person when possible. I feel that being on the ground with a client is the quickest way to get an accurate idea of what a brand manager may have in mind and then once I have a solid idea of what their intent is, then to gain some distance and let the creativity run free.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
JK: When working with a designer its ok to have a little space between the company and the design, this allows freedom of creativity, however too much can be a bad thing. Honestly my best advice to companies is to not always choose a "design house" as their go to. I have seen time and time again where a design agency will give them a pretty sketch that can never become a reality because they know nothing about manufacturing.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
JK: My design process usually involves a large cup of coffee, some loud music like Daft Punk or Glitch Mob on the radio, idea references pinned up around me and my pen and paper ready to go. I really like to lose myself in what I am working on and focus solely on the work and idea.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
JK: I don't really have many designer items, however a few of my favorite items around the house is my Poang Chair, my drafting desk, a poster from the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago (to me the World's Fair was the height of design, technology, and architecture displayed for the world,) my Nordictrack treadmill (where I spend most of my free time), and my two dogs.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
JK: My life can get pretty crazy at times between work, family and my two dogs. I am also a distance runner and usually spend time a lot of time training for marathons. I stay busy, but I like being active.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
JK: Never let your ego get in your way. We all start somewhere and in my opinion it is best to start small and build than to expect you will arrive at the top. Never get too attached to what you consider a good design. You are designing for clients or consumers not yourself.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
JK: The best positive aspect for me is that every day is a new challenge, a new customer, or a new product or new design. There is always change and fresh challenge.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
JK: Design for the end user first, the client second and myself third.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
JK: Creativity and artistic skills are a given. A good eye for proportions is essential, but also a good designer should understand the manufacturing processes of their products and how and when you can break rules.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
JK: I use a lot of pen and paper. Just a plain Bic pen and copier paper for the most part for ideation. When I move to 3d it includes: Catia, Rhino, Zbrush, Maya, KeyShot, Photoshop, Illustrator and sometimes about a half dozen other pieces of software.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
JK: When someone has learned to manage all their time, please let me know. But in all reality I don't think designers are ever able to fully switch off their brains. You are always thinking, analyzing, and daydreaming about ideas even if you aren't working on a project.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
JK: Everything is relative based on complexity, skill, and goal. You can knock out quick ideation sketches for rough idea in no time, but a 3d model may take a couple hours. Ultimately every design is different.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
JK: How do you come up with ideas?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
JK: Probably starting for Amcor as a CAD designer where I learned the ins and outs of ISBM manufacturing and learned the technical details of developing packaging first before I was in a position to develop concepts.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
JK: In the past I have worked with Pepsi, Cocacola, Diageo, ABInbev, Johnson & Johnson, Goya, Gatorade, Don Pasqual, Polar, Aje, along with a long list of local Latin American companies as well.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
JK: I really enjoy sports drink designs. I have had the opportunity to design for some of the largest brands throughout the Latin American region and always enjoy the challenge with them. I think I enjoy them most because you can push the boundaries a little more with the design, and ergonomics/function becomes a huge part of the design. I am a distance runner myself, so interaction between container and user is something I am very conscious of when designing.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
JK: Well outside of work I am in the process of getting into Kitesurfing and provided I don't kill myself doing that I am hoping to resume doing more photography and freelance work in conjunction with working at Amcor.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
JK: No matter the project our design group always approaches things as a team. While I maybe primarily responsible for a particular design we always reflect on the work and see if we cannot tweak it just a little more to make a bigger impact.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
JK: I recently released a new package developed for Gatorade. It is the world’s lightest weight 500ml hot fill application container. It will be spreading throughout Latin America and saves 30% of the plastic compared to the previous design. I am very excited to see that project actualized and the impact it will have on the region and environment.

FS: How can people contact you?
JK: Email works best:, Phone 954-499-4802, or even via Linked In as well.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
JK: Not at all. Thank you for the opportunity.

FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.

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