McKay Nilson on appealing to the human sense through design
An industrial designer based in Salt Lake City (Utah, US), McKay Nilson comes across as a focused individual who chooses his words and his design elements carefully. With an enviable daily schedule and a work desk that gives you serious life goals - it is a treat to understand his way of life in detail. McKay takes us through his journey till date in his characteristic, succinct manner.
A student of engineering, he soon realised that his true interest lay in design and the act of creation. Drawing, music and building things were something McKay had grown up with - and he had found that design empowered him to focus on the things he’s really passionate about. The switch led him to develop an interest in art, photography and architecture. His further focus on architecture was a natural transition, since he observes that to be but “ design, just on a very large physical scale.” It has been the intoxicating creative freedom that design offered, which drove McKay all along.
His clinical approach involves part logic, part emotion. McKay’s workspace is an example of how his thought processes manifest. He prefers his desk to be organized, clean, white and carrying objects relevant to an ongoing project. This helps him “focus on organising the chaos of the thoughts inside his head, and make real progress on his work.”
The strong humanistic element that he makes a point to communicate through his work, is heartening. While he employs logic to understand the viability of his design, he employs empathy to craft a story and build relevance into the manufactured products. He ensures they are of high quality, long lasting, thus sustainable. While McKay prefers working alone, he seeks out opportunities of working in multidisciplinary groups where everyone brings a different kind of expertise to the table. Humility is clearly a virtue, as he states - “The more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know.”
McKay radiates a distinct calm. “When you truly understand a problem, the answer is much clearer, and the whole process goes smoother.” His take on the latest trends is insightful. “Beneath them is a greater understanding of how people feel about themselves and the world around them.” On the role of industrial & product design in today’s world, McKay lays it out for us to understand: “The digital presence in our lives is stronger than ever before and so much of it feels cold and impersonal. As a designer of consumer products, I strive to make the objects I design appeal to the human sense.”
His natural response to all external stimuli is to push himself harder, and target personal growth. It is inspiring how he looks within, while his work should typically make him focus on the materialistic world around. “If you’re not moving forwards, you’re only moving backwards,” we have him say, and we nod in agreement.