Mike Harmon

Mike Harmon | 2010 IDSA Mideast District Student Merit Winner - College for Creative Studies

While growing up in Michigan, Mike Harmon enjoyed the tours of Ford’s design studio his father would take him on during “Take Your Kid to Work” day. The more tours he went on, the more he fell in love – with the design studio.

"My dad worked in PR for Ford for 23 years,” Harmon remembered. “He took me on tours where I got to see design for the first time. As a little kid, the concept cars were always my favorite. But once I began to understand design, I really appreciated the car interiors. I loved how the excellent styling execution was intertwined with solutions to everyday problems, and I realized that product design was where I wanted to be.”

The recent graduate of the College for Creative Studies (CSS) emerged as a practitioner of product design while completing a project for the PACE Engineering Design competition in 2008.

“The sponsor, Ixos, had been making home theatre projector cables for years and wanted to move into the mount segment,” Harmon recalled. “At the time, the foreseeable competitor’s design was nothing more than bent steel with ugly mechanical fasteners left completely exposed. The brief not only called for attacking with better aesthetics, but also aimed to make the first truly universal mount. This was quite a challenge as there are numerous variables in ceiling types and materials, as well as the projector’s attachment screw pattern. My design answered all these complications, and was awarded first place in the competition.”

That victory would help Harmon secure the first of four internships which augmented his studies at CCS. He spent a pivotal summer at TEAMS Design in Chicago where he accumulated deep experience on a variety of projects. “I got my hands on so many things and worked with several clients,” he said. “Rubbermaid, Pyrex, SC Johnson, Jarden, and Bosch. Even if I wasn’t working on something, I could learn from the designer next to me who could be working on something completely different.”

The projects Harmon worked on at TEAMS also exposed him to processes for working anywhere. “I would do 3-D modeling then have my data sent off to the TEAM’s satellite studio in ShangHai,” he recalled. “I’d get my work back the next day with notes on how to refine the design for manufacture.

Harmon recently joined the staff at Sundberg Ferar as a junior designer and expresses optimism about the next stage of his design career. “It is certainly an exciting time to be a designer,” he noted. “Even in this tough economy, there’re many opportunities. Right now, I just want to get my hands dirty on as many different products as I can and be thrown out of my comfort zone into new things.”

Mike Harmon can be reached via mharmondesign@gmail.com.