Cheers (Glück Auf)! … and nearly thirty years of WILDDESIGN.

This year in September, we at WILDDESIGN are celebrating our 30 years anniversary. In the last three decades WD transformed from a one-man-show in the Ruhr Area into a grand company with headquarters in Germany and China.

We were considering different ways in which we could celebrate and commemorate this success later this year.

As the whole world, we were stopped in our tracks, the initial confusion with COVID-19 grew into a global panic, and besides being a serious public health problem, it now presents a situation that causes many uncertainties about our futures.

In order “to flatten the curve” we must keep distance from each other, isolate and be apart. However, this does not mean that we can’t reach out to each other, on the contrary it is imperative that we do, exactly in these scary times. Even though it is uncertain when we will be able to hug each other or shake each other’s hands, we decided to get in touch with all the amazing people who, every in his/her own way, participated in making WILDDESIGN what it is today.

We reminisced about the times we shared the office space together and we learned about their current interests and projects. As we all are scattered throughout the world, some of us exposed more than others, we shared bits and pieces of how COVID-19 affects our daily lives.

We are greeting each other with the typical and untranslatable greeting that the miners from the Ruhr Area used: Glück Auf! The greeting has a twofold meaning. On the one hand, the miners wished each other success in finding a rich source of coal seams. On the other, they wished each other luck that was much needed for them to emerge from the 1000-meter-deep mines at the end of their shift, as back in the days that was not self-evident. In our current crisis the greeting seems to hold a fitting meaning.

Here are the 5 initial stories about our amazing WILDDESIGNer.

Glück Auf, Gerhard Seizer!

Gerhard Seizer, a creative powerhouse, a wild spirit who has traveled the globe as Idea Nomad and has 20 years of international creative experience behind him, took charge of building WILDDESIGN China from scratch in 2006. He stayed with us officially until 2013, but he is still very much a part of WILDDESIGN and represents all we stand for.

“We were the first international Design Company in China and we managed to become one of the most important agencies in the country within the first year. I set up WD China as a Full Service Creative Agency with a USP (unique selling proposition) around facilitation of brand and design transfer and WD as cultural bridge between West and East.”

Of the many projects Gerhard lead, Nomi Tang, a 2010 RedDot award winner stands out. WD created a whole line of vibrators and the full brand for the sex toys in question. “My industrial designers were thrilled to design such ergonomic and organic 3D shapes. But in all their excitement they forgot a “small detail”, they never observe the real size of the 3D data they were working on.

The first physical mockups arrived just 10 minutes before the customer himself. There they were in all their glory – one meter long and thick as an upper arm. When the customer asked if what he sees is meant to be a joke, I answered that this is a usual practice – scaled up 3D models to better observe the complex curves and control the form. He bought it.”

The COVID-19 crisis found him in Seattle where he moved to work for TEAGUE until June 2019, when he moved on to work from home; so the COVID-19 stay-at-home rule did not affect him much. Seattle is unfortunately ground-zero in the US, so his wife also moved to the home-office setting and his daughter stays at home as well. Being the outdoors type of person, he still enjoys walks with his family, but five meters apart from others out in the street.

“My biggest challenge – Online Shopping! That is the major change in my everyday life, and I can’t stand it. I am guided by haptic touch and feel, I just can’t achieve that online. It is hell on earth, and it is driving me crazy!”

Glück Auf, Gerhard!

Glück Auf, Anton Shurygin!

Anton, the taciturn industrial designer from Moscow joined WILDDESIGN in Shanghai in August 2015 and stayed with us throughout 2019. “It was my first job in a foreign agency with foreign people. I do still remember my very first day — I was sitting in taxi from airport to the office after 10 hours in air, having no idea what will happen next, and what kind of people I’ll meet. They were amazing, warm and welcoming. I felt myself a part of the family immediately. Self-dedication, empathy, talent and passion. Those are the things I’ve found here. In everyone at WD.”

From many of the amazing projects he has worked on, we especially remember the great Rejoin Project with its futuristic design language.

Thinking about post-2019-time Anton shared: “Even though I’ve left WD Shanghai office, I still feel as a “wild” designer – whatever that means. I’m still in touch with almost everyone from my team.”

He spends the time of the COVID-19 crisis unfolding in Shanghai. “I always imagined how Shanghai could look like when empty and I couldn’t even imagine that one day I’ll get the chance to see it! I spent time alone in the famous Yu Yuan Tea Garden; the whole place belonged only to me. Quiet, abandoned but still illuminated for few loners, brave enough to pay a visit. Unforgettable moment that happens once in a lifetime.”

Glück Auf, Anton!

Glück Auf, Alejandro Lara!

Ale joined our Gelsenkirchen office in February 2013 as a post-graduation intern. However, this short internship was not the end of our story together. After working on open-sky saunas in Austria for a year and a half, Alejandro returned to us and took up a position in Shanghai where he started as an entry level designer and eventually became a senior designer and project manager in his four years with us.

He appreciated the spontaneity and the familiarity of the Shanghai team that “felt more like a small family than just colleagues.” He fondly remembers the day when Anton joined the team. “It was a Friday, and we decided to go for beers after work. In the beginning we were only 3 or 4 people, but suddenly a bunch more joined in and almost everyone in the office ended coming. Even former employees who were around came – a happening, that is Shanghai”

“We delivered some great work in medical design and robotics. We gained some industry recognition, including IF awards and Reddot.” His favorite project tooRejoin. “The team did a great job in developing a new design language for this client, but each tool was a challenge due to their different usability and ergonomics requirements. Understanding user needs and workflow was key to creating products that performed better than their benchmarks.”

The COVID-19 crisis found him in Melbourne, where he has been working for Hydrix as a product designer and human factors consultant. The situation is handled well and the change towards home-office is not felt as disturbing as working from home is already a part of Australian culture. Alejandro is currently not working but he enjoys learning new skills, studying and spending time with his girlfriend. They currently face a conundrum many of us throughout the world unfortunately face. “We are on a quest to find toilet paper. It’s been almost four weeks and the shelves on the supermarkets are empty every time we go…”

Glück Auf, Ale!

Glück Auf, Nikolaos Politopoulos!

Nikolaos, the tall Greek industrial designer, joined WD in 2016 as our intern in Gelsenkirchen. He stayed for six months. “The office’s environment was laid back enough for anyone to be creative and work without a strain but at the same time well organized and efficient. Also, working with the shoes off is bizarre and weirdly satisfying.” Nikolaos enjoyed the days when Simone would bring her daughter’s super adorable dog Roki over. Roki was an amazing coworker.

His favorite project: the first one that he got assigned – the Trotec BP5 food thermometer. “It is really cool to see your idea become a real product so the first one will always have a special place in my heart.” While thinking about his work on Trotec BP5 he shared “I guess I should buy it before someone else redesigns it and mine goes off the market!”

Currently, Nikolaos works at the University of Aegean, in the department of Product and Systems Design Engineering in Syros. He is the supervisor in the Integrated Design lab where prototypes are being manufactured using both modern and traditional techniques. He, likewise, supports teaching on various subjects such as CAD and Technical Drawing.

Greece entered lockdown as a measure for preventing the spread of COVID-19. One can leave the house only with the official permit! Nikolaos is, therefore working on devising online classes for the Aegean University. He spends his time at home with his family: “I guess it’s a good time for everyone to read books and be creative in any way possible while trying to maintain a positive attitude.”

Glück Auf, Nikolaos.

Glück Auf, Jasper Rehder!

Jasper was a brand director in our Shanghai office for very short fourteen months. “Although that was my job title, I like to think of myself as an old part of the WD family. The camaraderie of the team and the intimacy of the working environment is something that is not easily found in the bigger network agencies I have worked in since.” (Currently he is Strategy-Director with McCann in Bath, U.K.)”

He recalls the best moments at WD happening during the communal lunch times at the local “Dongbei” restaurant. “Those 45 minutes to an hour spent together every day were worth so much for us as a team, strengthening bonds, exchanging cultures and telling stories from our diverse backgrounds. I think a lot of other countries and agencies across the world could learn from this type of communal time and the value it brings to the team effort during collaborative work time.”

Jasper particularly enjoyed working with a crane manufacturing client Morris Cranes. “It was such a totally different experience for me having come from a more FMCG background. It has changed the way I approach all projects since then. The fact that we got to work on everything from their branding to their advertising and even their customer ordering platform was a real bonus. Having that much control end to end is not a luxury you always have when working on bigger global brands.”

After being in a self-imposed “house arrest” in order to flatten the curve, Jasper now stays at home because UK has imposed stricter measures regarding social distancing. “In some senses it’s just like any other week for me as I’m quite used to working from home but the thought of not being allowed to live a normal life outside the house is quite strange if I’m honest.

However, working from home day in day out takes discipline and a regular routine. My secret tip is to shower and change clothing at the end of the day. The psychology of moving from one phase of the day into the next really helps to keep you sane.” And for all of us afraid of what future will bring Jasper has some empowering words to share – “I’m sure things will get worse before they get better but I believe in the resilience and ingenuity of mankind to solve almost any problem we face. “When the tough get’s going the tough get going”.

Glück Auf, Jasper!

Thank you all for your 5 great stories. Alexandra is already working on the next ones. Let’s see if we can make it to 30!

In this sense, stay healthy and make good design!

30 years of WILDDESIGN
WILDDESIGN - News from the Medical Design Hub Munich
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Markus writes about design- and innovation management, creativity methods, medical design and intercultural branding. More about...

Originally written by Markus Wild, 13. April 2020. Last updated 23. April 2023


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