Industrial Design and Innovation

Graduate Profile: Nikolai Sorensen

Congratulations to Nikolai Sorenson for being awarded 2nd place in the category of Object Design at the 2014 Australian Graduate of the Year Award! Nikolai was up against the top design graduates in Australiasia, so great to see an AUT representative doing awesome!

Check out the competition here!

We caught up with Nikolai to see how he has been up to since he left AUT…

Under Cover Camper: Nikolai Sorensen Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 10.01.55 AM Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 10.01.23 AM

Q: Could you briefly introduce yourself and let us know when you graduated from product design?

NS: My name is Nikolai Sorensen, I’m 29 yrs old and graduated in 2013. Previous to that I was working in the Engineering industry for about 5 years. Apart from the odd social surf session you’ll find me in the workshop tinkering away.

Q: Where are you now, and what is your favorite part of your job?

NS: Along with Mike Grobelny, I am now running a furniture company called Trestle Union. During my second year of study we both saw a gap in the market for low cost but good looking furniture. Trestle Legs were the obvious option as they were quick, easy and cheap to make. From there the business has grown into a full time thing, My favorite part of the job is working in our workshop. It’s an old farm building out the back of Muriwai, during the day it’s just me and the sheep and chickens. It’s a real inspiring environment to work from.

Q: What has been your biggest learning experience transitioning from study to practicing design?

NS: Designing a product is the easy part, it’s taking that product to market where the real hard work kicks in. Finding the right materials, suppliers, manufacturers and channels to market all take a lot of work and a lot more time than you think. This commercialisation process can be reduced ten fold if you take these things into consideration during the design process.

Q: What was your most memorable project from your undergraduate degree and why?

NS: My final 3rd year product was by far my most memorable. I went into it knowing that this could be the last time I get to design something purely because I want to, without focusing too much on things like customer / client requirements or commercial reality. Which made it a super fun project to work on.

Q: What would be your one bit of advice to final year students considering what to do after university?

NS: If your thinking of doing your own thing, then go for it! There are loads tools out there that make it super easy to create your own business without laying down a whole lot of money (if any). What have you got to loose?

Q: Favorite designer?

NS: Charles and Ray Eames

Q: Philosophy on design? A short summary of what you think design is and why its important?

NS: Design thinking is important, but design doing paramount. I’m a big fan of solving problems by prototyping rather than conceptualising in CAD or drawings. To me design comes down to one main thing – fulfilling a need, whether that need is functional, emotional or a mixture of the two, by fulfilling that need you will go along way to creating successful design.

Check out these links for more of Nikolai’s work!



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