6 Things I learned from Benjamin Hubert's LAYER Monograph
Benjamin Hubert is an industrial designer whose work has had a significant impact on the world of design. With his studio, LAYER, Hubert has created a range of innovative and thought-provoking products that have garnered widespread recognition and praise.
Hubert is known for his unique approach to design, which combines a strong sense of purpose with a focus on sustainability and social impact. He is driven by a desire to create meaningful change through design, and his work reflects this commitment to making a positive difference in the world.
LAYER, which Hubert founded in 2015, has become a leading design studio known for its forward-thinking and highly collaborative approach. The studio is focused on creating meaningful and impactful design solutions that address the challenges and opportunities of the modern world. With its focus on sustainability, innovation, and social responsibility, LAYER has established itself as a key player in the design industry and has garnered numerous awards and accolades.
In the LAYER Monograph, written by Max Fraser and published by Phaidon, industrial designer Benjamin Hubert shares the lessons he has learned on his journey to becoming a renowned designer. Through a series of case studies and personal reflections, Hubert explores the importance of building a strong personal identity and designing meaningful products with inherent stories.
The name LAYER comes from referencing multiple processes within the development of the design that, only when "layered" together, can create a solution.
In this blog post, I will delve into the insights offered by the LAYER Monograph and explore how Hubert has become one of the most successful designers of our time. I will examine the mindset and theories he has used to create innovative and impactful designs, as well as how he has cultivated a unique and distinguishable personal style. I will also look at how Hubert has used the LAYER brand to establish a strong and cohesive identity for his studio, and how he has worked to maintain this identity even as the studio has grown and evolved.
Whether you are an aspiring designer looking for inspiration and guidance, or simply interested in learning more about the design process, the LAYER Monograph is an essential read. Through Hubert's personal stories and insights, you will gain a greater understanding of what it takes to succeed in the world of industrial design and how to build a career that is both rewarding and impactful.
1. You get to decide how you are perceived by others.
When Benjamin Hubert first started building his own design studio, he made a conscious decision to adopt a "big" language in his communication and presentations. Even when he was working solo, Hubert referred to himself as "we" in order to project confidence and credibility to his clients.
This strategy proved to be highly effective for Hubert, as it helped him establish his studio as a professional and reliable entity from the very beginning. By using this inclusive language, Hubert was able to create the impression of a larger team and a more established business, which in turn instilled trust and confidence in his clients.
Of course, this approach also required Hubert to deliver on his promises and consistently produce high-quality work. However, by adopting this "big" language and projecting a strong and confident image, Hubert was able to attract high-profile clients and establish his studio as a force to be reckoned with in the design world.
Overall, Benjamin Hubert's decision to use inclusive language and project confidence in the early years of his design studio played a big role in his success and helped him establish a strong and respected brand. This strategy is one that other designers may want to consider as they work to build their own brands and establish credibility in their respective fields - with, of course, backing this big language with big effort and attention to the finest details!
2. Let intimidation fuel you
Benjamin Hubert had already gained some industry recognition and felt that he was making great progress with his design studio. However, when he attended his first Milan Design Week, he found himself feeling intimidated and unsure of how he was going to make an impact and stand out amongst the other big names in the industry.
Despite his initial fear and uncertainty, Hubert was determined to succeed and used this competitive environment as motivation to create even more. This drive and determination eventually paid off, as Hubert's designs caught the attention of many influential people in the industry and helped him establish his studio as a leading force in the world of design.
In the end, Hubert's experience at Milan Design Week serves as a reminder that even the most successful designers can feel overwhelmed and uncertain at times, but it's their determination and hard work that ultimately helps them rise to the top. Hubert's story is an inspiration for aspiring designers and a testament to the importance of perseverance in achieving success in any industry.
3. White lies for the ones aiming highs (occasionally!)
As a young designer trying to make a name for himself and his studio, Benjamin Hubert knew that he had to put in the hard work to gain the attention of potential clients. So, he spent countless hours trawling the city, approaching anyone and everyone he thought might be interested in his designs.
Despite his best efforts, Hubert often found himself faced with a handful of rejections and "maybe"s. But he didn't let this discourage him. Instead, he maintained a detailed spreadsheet of all the people he approached and followed up with cold calls, reminding them of his designs and the value he could bring to their company.
In these cold calls, Hubert would often tell potential clients that he was having conversations with other big brands, even if this wasn't entirely true. This helped him gain a reputation as a sought-after designer, and slowly but surely, companies started to approach him rather than the other way around. Through persistence and a bit of strategic thinking, Hubert was able to turn his dream of building a successful design studio into a reality.
4. "Longevity is the best example of sustainability."
As a designer, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating new and innovative products, and it's important to seek out feedback and guidance in order to improve and grow as a designer. However, it's also crucial to remember to stay true to your own values and beliefs, and to consider the impact of your designs on the world around us. Hubert has always been very conscious of sustainability and the finite resources of our planet. He strongly believes in designing for longevity and has made it a priority in his work. Every new product he creates is carefully considered for its long-term impact, and he is always looking for ways to reduce waste and resource consumption.
"Every new product puts pressure on the planet's finite sources."
Hubert's commitment to sustainability is just one of the many things that set him apart as a designer. He has a unique approach to design, and his work is always thought-provoking and visually stunning. He has built his personal identity as a designer on a foundation of excellence, and his studio, LAYER, has become known for its innovative and impactful designs.
By staying true to his values and incorporating sustainability into his design process, Hubert has created a body of work that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also has a positive impact on the world we live in.
5. Break your pattern
Benjamin knew that in order to keep growing as a designer, he needed to constantly challenge himself and expand his portfolio. He didn't shy away from tackling projects that were completely different from his previous work, as long as they still maintained the same high level of quality.
In 2015, during the Design Junction event in London, Hubert made a bold move by showcasing projects that had more of a societal impact, such as the Scale modular and sustainable acoustic dividing system, the Change Box donation box for the Maggie's cancer support charity, and the WorldBeing tracking app and wearable for the Carbon Trust to measure carbon footprints. These projects demonstrated Hubert's desire to embrace diversity and take on various design challenges in the fields of industrial design, strategy, user experience, material and manufacturing exploration, and art direction.
6. Designing timeless products with stories
As a designer, Benjamin learned early on that designing for the whims of humankind was different from designing for its needs. This realization gave him a greater sense of purpose in his work and motivated him to create designs that truly made a difference in people's lives. He knew that the most impactful designs were those that addressed real needs and solved real problems, rather than simply trying to appeal to fleeting desires or trends. As a result, Hubert's work was always grounded in purpose and meaning.
Because trends die but stories keep the product alive to endure the test of times and different waves of trends.
Designing for whims of humankind was different from designing for its needs, which gave him a greater sense of purpose.
He understood that the user's ownership of an item should endure for longer than most fast-moving consumer goods. People are naturally drawn to longer-lasting items that have inherent stories, and Hubert's goal was to create designs that would satisfy this desire for longevity and meaning. He focused on creating products that would stand the test of time, both in terms of their durability and their appeal. Through his studio LAYER, Hubert has been able to bring his vision to life, creating designs that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, and that has the power to transform people's lives. Whether it is furniture, lighting, or other home goods, the goal is always to create designs that are timeless, and that will be cherished by their owners for years to come.
Overall, the LAYER monograph was a great read and an inspiration. I read the book on the ferry, cafe, and at home and looked forward to continuing reading while I was not! I'll be honest, I certainly did not think I was going to read Benjamin Hubert's path to success this detailed - I thought the monograph was rather a very extensive portfolio of LAYER. When I found out that I'm going to read his story, I was over the moon! Now I know where to look when I'm struggling to make my way in this industry because this book was not only a great source of inspiration but is also a handbook of strategy for designers.
Thank you for reading!