Blog . Interning at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
Summer 2014 Internship location:
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
New York, NY
How you found out about the internship:
A friend of mine who goes to another art school out west knew of my interest in the hybrid of design and craft and filled me in on the Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia opportunity. I decided to investigate. I was ecstatic to find out that the company was offering an internship within industrial design with a craft making emphasis. I felt like I’d found the jackpot!
What you did:
I was assigned to the crafts merchandising department, which is basically where all craft-making products and tools are designed. This is the area where craft kits and ideas are thought through for the customer by using existing or newly developed products. To give an example, when helping design a paper punch, I would start by considering how the aesthetics, construction, and mechanical qualities of the tool influence the creation of the end product. The end product would be a paper punch-out created with my designed artwork. In addition to the tool itself, I would help design a market strategy for the end-use of the product. For example: along with the punch (the main execution tool), the package would be equipped with all the supplies necessary to create a complete project. I had my hand both in helping with presentations and brainstorming for new techniques in craft, and also in refreshing existing trends and designs already on the market.
What you learned:
With regard to the design process, I learned how extensive it can really be. It reinforced the practice of asking critical questions while executing design. Is the user actually going to use the product? How many uses? Is it cost effective? Does the price relate to the use? Is it timeless? I have come to appreciate and understand the time and energy it takes to bring new products to market. I am surprised by how little the design department has control over the final designs of a product. The number of hands involved makes the process a little like the game telephone: by the end, you can have something very different from what you started with. The amount of approval required at each step was pretty mind-blowing. At school, we assume total control and take part in all roles of the process: marketing, design, graphics, and production. When in a larger (sometimes corporate) environment, you have to leave your own bias tastes at the door for the betterment of the company. Working for a company as large as MSLO makes you appreciate both your own practice in art and in design, and how you approach your own work. I believe it’s important for your own personal creativity to have that other creative salvation. Each informs the other.
Finally, although working on one project might seem never ending, it is really important to maintain momentum on other ideas by jotting them down and keeping an active log.
What surprised you:
I was surprised at how large MSLO’s space is in the middle of Manhattan! (ahah) Another unexpected realization was that I was creating tools for learning and inspiration. That was super fun for me because MSLO makes products to make people happy and creative, and ultimately that’s how I want to affect others. It has been an indirect learning process left up to a lot of serendipity and exploration. I was also both surprised and inspired by how some people got started working at this company. There are many people at MSLO who have had very untraditional ways of getting here, but at the core of it they are all driven, creative people.
How CIA prepared you to get the most out of your internship:
CIA prepared me in the sense that they have let me take many courses outside my major. Granted, I was a jewelry + metals major before switching into industrial design, and I have crafted my whole life, but CIA's allowance of outside-major classes has created a possibility for a more well-rounded skill set. My versatility in craft and design principles helped me with this internship. One minute I was crafting with paper and plaster, and the next I was doing graphic design and sketching forms. It was a wonderful mix of skill sets for me. Aside from CIA itself, I think my understanding of design as a whole has helped me navigate my broad outlook on design and art. I really believe that design and art are not very different from one another, and what it really comes down to is perspective. I think everyone should learn about design, because design is not so much about drawing the hottest sketch, it’s about communicating an idea.