Nectar has a strong history of ties to our local university, California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Aside from being close neighbors, many of our designers are alumni of CSULB, which has allowed us to create a special relationship with their Industrial Design program. Each year Nectar hosts Junior year students for an on-site workshop, and this year we kept up our tradition by hosting them virtually via Zoom. This experience has been incredibly enriching the Nectar team; the departure from our day-to-day is refreshing and fun, but the workshop also allows us to truly engage and make connections with up-and-comers. In past years we have found new members of our Industrial Design team such as our current intern, Brayton Hammerly.
This year students were given the choice of three topics to work with. In collaboration with Professor Wesley Woelfel, the Nectar team developed prompts that would allow the class to contemplate their future work environments through their Industrial Design skills. The topics included: reimagining the design office environment, fostering team bonds outside the traditional office space, and solutions for creative collaboration while working remotely.
We began the workshop with a virtual tour of the Nectar facility and a Q&A with Darren and Allison. From there we segued into an introduction of the day’s assignment. The Nectar team and four small groups of students then met in breakaway rooms, where each group had dedicated interaction with just a couple of team members. The groups of promising designers put together solutions to their chosen topic, proposing creative systems, products and, in some cases, entire product families to address our changing work world. Following the collaborative sessions the students were given time to revise and develop a presentation of their work for the Nectar professionals.
Traditionally in industrial design it is critical to be able to interact with a variety of mediums while working collaboratively with users and colleagues on the human factors of a design. At prior workshops, CSULB students were able to share their physical mock-ups with our team, and were even able to iterate on their initial models with Nectar professionals. This has been a year of massive departures in this realm.
At Nectar we have been adapting to the changing times, however the Industrial Design students at CSULB have a unique experience in that they are training for their profession within these new distanced circumstances. Their solutions were impressively innovative, ranging from portable remote workspaces and teleconferencing tools, to concepts for entire UI platforms that would fill the gap between remote and in-person work.
We hope that our student peers gained as much from this workshop as we did. Nectar is honored to have a hand in bringing up the next generation of industrial designers and learning from them as they do from us.