5 Characteristics of Extraordinary Designers

We’d all like to get rich quickly by doing something we loved, right? Turning my passion into profits and having fun doing it sounds about right to me.

But what sets apart the ordinary person from the extraordinary one who can achieve this dream?

1. Parents – It all starts with a solid framework

Steve Jobs is someone I think most people are familiar with. Even though Steve was adopted, he claimed his adoptive parents were his real parents. After all, it would be them who would shape their son to be the leader they knew he could be.

Paul Jobs worked for a company that made lasers; he taught a young Steve how to build and disassemble electronics. As a result of this, Steve developed an obsession for technical tinkering. The rest, as they say, is history.

Steve Jobs

2. Focus even when you’re unsure of direction

Jonathan Ive is yet another Apple exec. He became interested in drawing and design at 14, but he had no focus on what he wanted to work on. His creativity interests reached from designing furniture to cars.

Sticking with what he knew he wanted was difficult, but after leaving college, he co-founded his own design agency called Tangerine. In 1992 Apple found him, and after starting as a design consultant, he became permanent staff.

Today, he’s Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design — not bad for an Essex boy!

3. Finding a trustworthy, complementary partner

Domenico Dolce studied fashion design in Sicily. He was lucky enough to have clothing in his blood; his family owned a small clothing factory, and Dolce often worked there.

Stefano Gabbana had absolutely no fashion background, instead choosing to study graphic design. But in 1982 — Dolce was 24 and Gabbana was a mere 20 years old — they started their own business while still doing freelance design work. But by 1985, their partnership had earned them fame as the men behind the Dolce and Gabbana fashion house.

Stefano Gabbana & Domenico Dolce

4. Keep believing you can be whatever you want to be

Enzo Ferrari – You know who he is right? Enzo was born in 1898 and grew up with no formal education. His qualifications were his desires to race cars, which he gained at just 10 years old.

But after being drafted into the army during WW1, it looked like his dream wasn’t to be. Plus, he became severely ill during his time in the army, and so he was discharged in 1918 with chronic flu.

Shortly thereafter, he began working for a car company called CMN, where he transformed truck bodies into small cars. The company let him race for a short while on their team, but he had no successes.

He then went on to work at Alfa in 1920, and he was better at driving their cars. Nine years later, he started Scuderia Ferrari as the racing team for Alfa, and he built up a driving crew of over 40 people.

After working with Alfa on and off — including a four-year feud in which Enzo was banned from designing any cars — he set up his own auto-parts company. The factory was taken over by Mussolini’s fascist government during WW2 and was later bombed.

It seemed like he just couldn’t get his career to take off, but in 1947, he could finally make cars bearing his name.

It took him nearly 40 years to bring his dream to its ultimate fruition.

Ferrari

5. Passion and determination to be different

Alexander McQueen was born in a council flat in Stratford. He started making dresses for his sisters and announced almost at once that he was going to be a fashion designer.

He left school at 16 with just one O-Level in Art. But despite this, he gained apprenticeships at many Saville Row tailors and took those skills to a whole new level. In fact, his early collections were controversial, earning him the nickname of “The hooligan of English fashion.”

His achievements are too numerous to list, but upon his death in 2010, the outpouring of grief said it all. He was truly a design inspiration.

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These people all took design from clothes and automobiles to technology, yet it was their very nature and backgrounds that got them where they are.

If you want to run a boutique or an art consultancy, then why shouldn’t you? If you have the innovation and inspiration needed to make design work for you, then work it: work it real good.

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