The next edition of GRAY’s HOT NEW NEXT competition takes place Tuesday, July 30, at the Seattle Design Center. This Shark Tank-style live event offers contestants the chance to present a rapid-fire pitch of a new design-related concept or product to an expert panel of industry veterans, who will select a winner in a final round in September during the Interior Design Show (IDS) Vancouver.
Leading up to the big night, we’re checking in with each of our judges to learn more about their work, background, and what makes them tick. This week, we caught up with Sean Carter, Principal Designer and Director of Design at Vancouver, BC-based design agency Carter Hales.
RSVP to HOT NEW NEXT Seattle here.
What’s your most prized design possession?
A Wilier Triestina team-issue Cofidis track bike that I managed to ride on the velodrome just once with a rather disastrous result (let’s call it rider error), ultimately leading it to the rather unfulfilled life as wall art in my office. It’s a daily reminder that I’m a much better designer than an athlete.
What’s the best part of your job?
Getting embedded in a business and finding ways that strategy and design can improve a company. Problem-solving and learning keeps me genuinely excited and interested in the branding business. And if that isn’t enough, I get to wear clothes that most professionals can’t get away with wearing in a boardroom. Our clients expect a little fashion “experimentation”from me and I am happy to oblige.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on in the past year?
We’re collaborating with writer Aaron Bernardi and Mitchell Press on a super exciting project, based on the theme “Design for the Common Good.” It’ll be a beautiful print piece highlighting creatives and entrepreneurs who are using design to improve the world in some way.
The premise of this project is to highlight the tangible economic and social value of investing in creatives and their endeavors. The book centers around Upstart Co-Lab, an organization backed by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which connects artists with social-impact investors. Along with Upstart, the piece will feature a handful of the artists and entrepreneurs in their portfolio who exemplify Design for the Common Good. Stay tuned for its release at the end of this year or early next year.
What are you looking forward to most about being an HNN judge?
I love the intersection where entrepreneurialism and design meet. I’m really looking forward to meeting fellow designers and learning about their concepts. It should be a ton of fun.
What is the best—and worst—advice you’ve ever received?
Let’s start with the worst advice. My high school graphic design teacher told me to NEVER enter the field of design because I didn’t have what it takes. Funny enough, I turned out to have it after all.
Simultaneously, this was also the best advice I received. It gave me just enough motivation to prove her wrong. Looking back, I can’t help but think it might have been intentional on her part. Or am I giving her too much credit?
Five Questions For is GRAY’s candid Q&A session with design industry luminaries that delves into all things personal, professional, and occasionally humorous.