Rohan Siebel

Specialized in Accessory Design.

Rohan Siebel

About Rohan Siebel

Strontium, a studio set up by Rohan Siebel, is a one stop shop for product solutions. They offer services such as Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, Graphic Design, Prototyping, & Mass-Production. Being based in Shenzhen, the advantage Strontium have is their close relationship with the factories and their understanding of most manufacturing processes, so there is little time wasted creating designs that are impossible or unnecessarily difficult to be made.

  • Winner of the A' Design Award.
  • Specialized in Accessory Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Accessory
Floh Travel Luggage

Floh Travel Luggage

Accessory Design

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Interview with Rohan Siebel

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
As long as I can remember I wanted to be a designer, since I was a little boy I loved drawing and making things. There was a period for a couple of years when I wouldn’t go anywhere without my sack of Lego, always wanting to create something! My Father and Grandfather showed me how to use all the different tools from a very young age as I was so interested in how to make more complex objects like a billy cart or a cross bow or fashion a piece of metal to replace a broken part on my bike for example. All through school I was very focused on arts, graphics, and the sciences. During my final years of high school I completed year 12 Graphic Communication in year 11 and got the highest mark in the school, and was eager to do another arts based subject when I was in year 12 but the school didn’t offer anything. There was one other student named Daniel that also shared this same passion, so the both of spoke to the head of the art department and she agreed to run a private Studio Arts subject for just Daniel and I. At the end of the year we both did very well and I was fortunate enough to be awarded a perfect score for the subject, the highest in the State. When it came time to choose which course to do at university it was pretty clear that I wanted to do something design related. I was tossing up between Graphic Design, Architecture and Industrial Design, but at the last minute a new course had just been announced that was called “Product Design Engineering”, and in the end I decided to apply for this course. I was accepted studied this course for 2 years until there was some uncertainty about the outcome of the course in terms of what the qualification would be whether it would be an engineering degree or a design degree and many students decided to change courses, I was one of the many and decided to do an Industrial Design degree instead. I completed that degree in 2004 with a mix of distinctions and high distinctions. While I was studying I also worked as a contractor doing product design for a kitchenware’s company designing things like dish brushes and measuring cups, but once I finished my degree I decided to run the creative department in my family’s retail clothing business. In house we had our own wood working department, metal fabrication department and a full scale print shop where we would make almost all the fixtures, fittings and signage for our own chain of stores. After doing that for a few years I decided to take a job at Australia’s largest display company, Active Display Group where I worked as an Industrial Designer designing displays for big clients such as Disney, Chanel, and Stella Artois. In my first year I was able to win 3 POPAI awards for my designs, and the following year I managed to win the coveted top gold POPAI award for a permanent display that I designed for Disney. After working at Active for 3 years I was poached by an engineering firm to become the understudy of the head engineer to design laser guided tunnel boring machines, to say it was change of scenery is an understatement! It was great to use the more technical side of my brain but it didn’t seem to feed my hunger for true design and so in my spare time I started working on a personal project with another guy which was a kick scooter. After launching our Facebook page in 2009 for our scooter brand we accumulated 30,000 followers in a matter of 3 months, and we had shops from all over the world contacting us to want to buy our scooters because they loved the design. I made the decision to leave the engineering firm and take the chance of starting my own business. In 2010 I went to China to oversee production of my first batch of scooters and have since never left. I find it so enjoyable working directly with the factories to help develop and manufacture my own products, it’s actually a dream come true. Now I work on several different projects, but the most both intense and rewarding project to date as no doubt been the Floh project.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
Strontium is primarily an Industrial Design studio, but also offers their clients a range of other services such as Mechanical Engineering, Graphic Design, Prototyping and Mass-Production. We are strategically based in Shenzhen China, where we have direct access to the largest manufacturing hub on the planet. Not only do we have hands on experience with most manufacturing processes, we can also turn around projects faster and more economically.
What is "design" for you?
Design is about making life more practical, more enjoyable and more beautiful.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
Generally I gravitate towards technical products, stuff that has some mechanical application
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
I started designing logos for small businesses since I was about 16 yrs old, but the first product I designed for money was a measuring jug.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
Mmm...tough question, so many to choose from. I'm currently enjoying working with aluminium, it's a really nice material to work with.
When do you feel the most creative?
Definitely late at night - I always seem to do my best work after midnight.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
Function is paramount, but ease of manufacturing is a close second. Aesthetic works it's way into the design wherever it can.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
Combination, but mostly I'm anxious for my thoughts to take shape in front of me
What makes a design successful?
There just needs to one thing that is extra special about it, if more than one, than that's even better.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
First impression is everything - do I feel something? Then does it fit the brief or criteria that it needs to?
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
We must educate the customers and the heads of corporations on the importance of quality over quantity, and for us to design things that last. I don't like the idea of having to replace things all the time.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
I think bad design of anything is becoming less accepted. Crowdfunding has had a huge impact on design where there is opportunity for small players to enter the market with great ideas that would usually be blocked by large corporations. This will give more opportunity to small studios such as Strontium where they can help these sorts of people bring their ideas to life.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
Inspiration comes from everything around me, it could be anything. For example the other day I saw this air purifier and I thought the shape would really cool as a suitcase!
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I am from Melbourne Australia, but now I live in Shenzhen China, and for sure your surroundings always effect your thinking to some degree. The advantage of living in China is that things are moving so fast, especially in Shenzhen, which is arguably the fastest growing city in the world. Shenzhen is also home to the worlds largest electronics market which has a huge ripple effect. There are so many new ideas buzzing around the place, you can feel the energy. The disadvantage is that the market itself here is different to most others so sometimes you have to step outside to see what the trends are in other markets such as USA or Europe.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
My 2 mountain bikes are pretty awesome, one is from a German company called YT and the other is made by a US based mob called EVIL, yes that's actually the name of the company haha. I never get sick of my IWC Top Gun watch, a large floor lamp that I picked up form a store over here called Bauhaus, and a side table that I designed and had made a few years back.
Can you describe a day in your life?
Everyday is different, but usually I'm either checking stuff out at a factory or I'm at my desk banging out a design.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Go to factories to really understand how things are made, and what the limitations are with each process. Learn your software backwards so you don't let the software dictate your design, but rather let it open more possibilities. Other than that just follow your heart.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I mostly work solo, but I always like to bounce ideas of people as I go along.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
Right now I'm working on a new mountain bike frame that has a totally new suspension system, It's a really exciting project for me. I'm also working on a new scooter brand called "Native" which is really cool.

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