A DAY IN THE LIFE OF: a design placement student at Cottam

Hayden is a design student from Northumbria University currently with Cottam for an industry placement. Hayden was quickly thrown in the deep end helping us to complete our factory refurb with the design of bespoke furniture before assisting Head of Product and E-Commerce, Nick Palfreyman with an exciting new product development project for a well-known car manufacturer.

We chatted with Hayden as part of our ‘day in the life series’ to understand a little bit more about the design department here at Cottam and what a typical day looks like…

Tell me more about a typical day since you have been here at Cottam

I always try to arrive before 9am most mornings (traffic dependent), I walk through the door at 8:45 allowing me some time to grab a coffee and have a quick chat with the team. Once at my desk I open my laptop up to some CAD work or prototyping from the previous day and continue working on that to get me started for the first couple hours. Sometimes my morning can be taken up by helping the warehouse team unload containers when tight on time.

By mid-morning I have a catch-up with Nick to discuss the projects I’m working on to check they are on the right track. During that time, we tend to discuss any ideas and improvements we’ve had over the previous evening, which happens a lot as being a designer…you never really stop, especially when trying to solve a problem that’s holding up a project. After the catch up I will either continue with my projects or move onto helping Nick with other projects. This could involve a completely new project that needs to take priority or be worked on in tandem with other projects, unless it’s at a prototyping stage where we both get involved so we can develop and solve any problems faster. By this point we’ve normally got carried away, so we stop for lunch to give myself and my laptop a break.

In the afternoon I’ll try and grab a cup of coffee as I have usually forgot to get another one after breakfast. After that I’ll continue to work on the major project for the day with a few chats with Nick depending on where I am at with it. On days where there isn’t a major project taking up both our times, I continue working on the smaller project’s Nick has set me and jump between them. I should add that even though my main area is designing I have found a lot of my afternoons involve researching because one of us has come up with a crazy solution that needs some investigating. Ending the day at around 4 ready to drive home, still thinking about brush making solutions…

What projects have you been working on since you joined?

As mentioned, I was thrown in the deep end with designing bespoke furniture, at the same time I was asked to help finish building a pipeline brush prototype. Quickly being moved onto making some router jigs for brush stocks, designing new stickers for packaging, final touches and packaging for a forklift brush, remodelling existing products in CAD and even looking into and designing new ways for Cottam to produce brushes. In amongst all these projects I also took part in the major project for a well-known car manufacture, which was a major step up for someone who’s is still at university and given a lot of responsibility in helped make and send out that system.

Have you faced any challenges and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge I have faced is getting my head around designing for a brush manufacture! Luckily, I’ve learnt a lot of CAD and computer skills throughout school and my university course, plus I have hands on experience with how things work and the process of making things. But designing a brush, that’s not something you can immediately sync in with. I’m constantly trying to wrap my head around some of the amazing designs that Nick has and continues to come up with, trying to follow suit. To get over this challenge I try to use my intuition and go for it with my ideas, using experiences from different projects and putting to use feedback to develop and improve my ideas. This has really helped me to adapt my steps when designing to make ideas more applicable and realistic.

What advice would you give someone who is considering a role in design?

Stay open minded and get as much experience you can. What I’ve learnt is no matter what route you go down in terms of design, any experience and skills you’ve learnt along the way will always help you. Even if the experience wasn’t design orientated. In between school and university, I have gained most of my experience from the hands-on side of the world, so much so I nearly went down the engineering route. Whether this has been working with ex-military vehicle’s, fabrication work to create faux trees, restoring a Land Rover or even 2 years as a gardener. In the eyes of some universities those experiences might not be relevant to a design course but that’s not the case. The fact is the more experience you have when it comes to how things work no matter what area it’s in, can play a huge role in how you design. If you already understand how things work and know the limitations, you’re already a step ahead.

What would be your dream project?

It sounds odd but I would love to complete a project for a tool manufacture where I could see where it ends up and hear the feedback from people I know using it. Would be hard not to say I designed it every time I see it.

What is next for Hayden?

For now, I will continue to gain experience from Nick and the team before I go back to university life. I think a lot of my time will be spent finishing the Land Rover with my dad, maybe buying another project….

If you would like to discuss your next custom brush project with a member of our team, email sales@cottambrush.com or call 0191 428 2510. 

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