Design Indaba 2012: Trust Your Gut And Take Risks To Really Be Creative

PSFK was on hand for Design Indaba 2012, and was inspired by South African product designer, Porky Hefer’s talk about transitioning from advertising exec to product designer in order to be able to express himself.

“This talk is not to change the world, but rather to offer some words of encouragement,” declared Porky Hefer at the start of his Design Indaba 2012 presentation. After spending 16 years in advertising (and one step away from becoming the CEO of a major ad agency), he left it all to start his own venture, Animal Farm. Now, making a name for himself as a product designer, his ideas come to life by constantly sketching. One of his creations, Lite is a range wooden bulbs using indigenous African hardwood which function as lampshades and include an eco-friendly CFL bulb or LED light.

He also showed his Nest tree house project, which was inspired by weaver birds’ nests. Built with no inner steel framework, each nest is meticulously hand-constructed using all natural material like bark and branches. We had the opportunity to lounge in one of Porky’s nests during our visit to the Babylonstoren wine estate while in South Africa.

Inspired by a dog running past him at the beach that looked like it had human teeth, he created the hilarious Rogz Grinz Ball. A dog-friendly product when gripped by a canine’s teeth gives the impression of Porky’s initial vision.

Porky also shared how he got to a point in his advertising career where he realized the agency needed clients more then they needed us. He was frustrated by the many brilliant ideas he saw being thrown away due to politics and ignorance. And started making things. He offered the audience various nuggets of wisdom:

• NEVER stop evolving.

• The simpler your idea, the bigger your audience – too complex, too niche!

•  I consider myself an 8 year old with 35 years experience — but I can use power tools without adult supervision.

• Disconnect from the iPad, iPod, iMac and get sketching, test those ideas with a pen.

• With every thing you do, do something NEW every time.

• No one is going to say ‘leave my company, cos I’m paying you too little.’

• TRUST YOUR GUT to do that funny idea.

PSFK caught up with Porky Hefer to discuss the importance of trusting your gut.

Are the words “Trust your gut” your mantra, and why?

Yes, and never stop evolving. Don’t sit back and reproduce something you did yesterday. Make something new. Do something better. I want to be known for being limitless in solving problems and thinking up ideas.  It’s something I believe everyone should strive for too. Everyone can do it. They just need to break through that barrier that says they can’t.

Thanks Porky!

Photo Credit: TheM2K

Animal Farm

Design Indaba 2012

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