Jaime Garcia; the Tokyo-based product designer from Bogotá.

Kick off this interview by saying hello!

Hi Sensers, my name is Jaime Garcia; I am a product designer from Bogotá, living in Tokyo since 2014.

I’m active, curious and passionate about design and creativity. Besides working as a user experience designer for Sony and running PhD studies (focused on the emotive value of design for mobile societies), I am a partner of MEANWHILE Associates; a design and strategy consultancy with the goal of telling stories and design experiences that are adopted and adapted between cultures.

Jaime currently lives in Tokyo

What your working process look like, how do you get productive? Do you have favourite tools or a specific

I do my best to not always begin a project from the same starting point. However, if I have to decide where to look at first, this would be observing and talking to people. When doing this you are able to understand behaviours and detect patterns that eventually provide different signals to where the design will head towards.

Where do you live at the moment and why?

After living five years in Shanghai, I felt I needed to experience a new location (Asia as a top preference) and at the same time start my PhD research. After traveling to Japan for the very first time, and having interviews with professors at different schools, I chose Tokyo as my next home.

I find Tokyo enchanting, it inspires me every day. It’s a dynamic city with plenty of opportunities and a network of creative people who are disciplined and specialised at their craft.

Just this week I am back from Cameroon, taking part in a three week challenge I set up for myself. I had three main goals in mind:

  1. Train a local institute in the field of innovation and creative entrepreneurship
  2. Interview and discuss with local communities regarding the meaning of objects in the domestic environment, as part of my research
  3. Absorb as much as I can from the Cameroonian culture and lifestyle, document my findings in order to share the experience

It was such a rich experience. Everyday there was something new to learn. The way people look at things, how they spend their days, what their favourite meals are, what life means to them… Although the tension of the political crisis can be experienced all around; Cameroonians always have a positive way to look at the future.

We’re only human, what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s recently happened to you?

In Cameroon, there are certain leaders called ‘Fon’ (considered kings, rulers of a region). Right now they’ve become a sort of counsellors for the politic activity of the region and own high status of respect among the community. Completely ignorant, a ‘white man’ like me tried to shake hands with the Fon, or give him a pat on his back… everyone looked at me disapprovingly with people saying ‘please do not do that’. Quite embarrassing!

Jaime’s recent trip to Cameroon

The Fon in Cameroon

Any finally, what advice do you have for future generations of designers?

Closing these lines, I would advise any aspiring designer not to be focused solely on what designers do, our profession is like a sponge. Always surround yourself with key people (depending on your project direction) and absorb as much as possible in order to find new meaning and different points of view. Do not aspire to know it all, or be completely self-sufficient; our profession is far more enjoyable when there are different teams and perspectives to learn from!

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