Above the Fold: Cesar Idrobo, Industrial & Footwear Designer
In Above the Fold, we spotlight individual members of Coroflot's vibrant creative community. The idea is to take you behind the scenes and inside the minds of talented Coroflot members who we think are doing exceptional work. Coroflot was created by designers, for designers, and Above the Fold is the place where we can talk to creatives about work that we not only love, but think you'll love too!
Cesar Idrobo is a freelance footwear designer based in Portland, Oregon. A former YEEZY adidas footwear developer who has also completed projects for Nike, we recently became familiar with Idrobo's work and impressive drawing skills thanks to his participation in our most recent Sketch Jam event. In this interview, he discusses the steps he took to getting where he is today, his advice for how to be productive on a daily basis, and the act of re-branding yourself.
Was there a specific moment in life where you realized you wanted to pursue a creative path?
Yes, from an early age. I was always involved in the arts and crafts either at home, school or private courses. I took every advantage to improve my artistic skills. Also, playing with Legos as a kid developed my mechanical and spatial skills to the point that making things became intuitive. My grandfather is an architect and a multidisciplinary artist, so growing around art and his work nurture me to be who I am now. In my senior year of high school in 2006 I considered at some point doing painting as a career because I was taking classes and I enjoyed doing it. Then, I found out about industrial design. "This is the perfect combination of arts and mechanics. This is the right degree," I said.
Who are/were your design heroes?
David Kelley, the person that started IDEO. I've read most of his books, but the most recent one "Creative Confidence" has had an impact on how I work with teams.
Simon Sinek, his talks and his book "Start With Why" have made me a better designer. His philosophy helps me create meaningful products that are relevant to a brand and to their audience.
Issey Miyake. Not only I'm a fan of his work, but also his process. The way he blends tradition and technology in fashion is truly innovative. All Steve Jobs wore was the black turtleneck by Miyake and Zaha Hadid thought he was a "brilliant man."
Es Devlin. I came across her work on Abstract, the Netflix series, and am mind blown by her work and creativity. Truly inspiring.
Can you share some details about your most recent project?
I worked on a graphic design project I presented to Nike Sportswear for an interview that helped me land the job. I showed how I created graphic patterns that could go on socks as well as different designs from the ground up. I presented a sock made out of a reflective coated yarn that would make runners more visible at night.
You recently competed in Sketch Jam. Can you tell us about why you wanted to compete and describe the experience overall?
I enjoy being involved and participating in this type of events. It's good practice, a great way to connect with other fellow designers and a stage to showcase what you can do. It was a rewarding experience sharing what you know in some way to other people in the audience through visual thinking. I like that people outside the creative field have the opportunity to be exposed to this. Sketching is a form of self-expression and is the voice of designers. I'm already looking forward to the next Sketch Jam. This event is a great spotlight for the creative community.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
Rebranding myself. When I ran out of business cards, I find it to be the perfect time for re-evaluating how I'm marketing myself. You add skills and experiences to your career, so your perspective changes. Therefore, reinventing who I am is part of my journey as creative and I see it a project. A serious project. In fact, 99U just wrote about it here.
Are there any projects (professional or personal) that you are especially proud of?
One of my footwear collections where I designed and made 7 pairs of shoes in 10 weeks. One of the most completed projects from beginning to end. It was rewarding carrying the same vision from design to execution. It was recently a Gold winner at the A' Design Awards in the footwear category.
What tools (physical or digital) do you find yourself using repeatedly?
A pen, markers and an Exacto knife. My go-to tools for visualizing ideas and quickly prototyping an idea.
Regarding digital tools, I've been incorporating algorithms-aided design, also known as generative design into footwear making. It is a truly innovative tool designers must know today. It will be as essential as pen and paper.
Do you have a ritual for getting in work mode (music you listen to, certain exercise, food you eat) aka a productivity tip?food you eat) aka a productivity tip?
I do have a pattern, especially since I've been freelancing for a few months. A structure throughout the day is crucial to get things done. The key to a productive day is a restful night, plenty of breaks such as walking and prepare a schedule the evening before.
I start my day with meditation, a good breakfast to fuel my morning and reading. Reading is a smooth transition from leisure to work. The music I listen to the most are: a podcast called "Soulection" on Soundcloud, and classical musical.
A key to having a highly productive day? A minimal life. I've structured and set my living space in such a way that I don't have to spend time picking up my apartment because I don't have stuff. So, there is nothing to organize! I only have a desk and a chair on my living space which allows me to focus on only doing one thing: Creating. I've tuned my life and found what I value the most is designing. That's my main goal.on my living space which allows me to focus on only doing one thing: Creating. I've tuned my life and found what I value the most is designing. That's my main goal.
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Outside of your professional life, do you have any other creative outlets or hobbies?
"To create great design, you must first experience great design" said Naoto Fukasawa. So, my hobby has become this relentless pursuit of experiencing what a great design looks and feels like. I enjoy going to art museums. I've gone to Art Basel Miami 4 years in a row. I visit work of famous architects and immerse in the experience of walking around and through their space. I lived in LA for a few months, so I spent a lot of time taking pictures of Frank Gehry's Concert Hall.design" said Naoto Fukasawa. So, my hobby has become this relentless pursuit of experiencing what a great design looks and feels like. I enjoy going to art museums. I've gone to Art Basel Miami 4 years in a row. I visit work of famous architects and immerse in the experience of walking around and through their space. I lived in LA for a few months, so I spent a lot of time taking pictures of Frank Gehry's Concert Hall.
As a creative outlet, I draw and write. It's healthy for you to think out loud.
Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your Coroflot portfolio?
Market it! Good artists make good work, but great artists know how to sell it. Creatives have to take advantage of this great platform because is there to help get your work out there. I've been a member since 2008 and people have stumbled my work who are now connections in my professional network.