Interaction Design – Michaël Harboun – Product Design AR/VR at Facebook

Michaël Harboun, class of 2011, and now Product Design (AR/VR) at Facebook in the United States, talks with us about his career since Strate.

  • Hello Michael, can you introduce yourself? (name, first name, age, graduation class?)

Michaël Harboun, 28, class of 2011

  • Can you describe, in a few words, your journey before entering Strate? What major did you take up at school?

I grew up in Luxembourg where I passed my baccalaureate with a major in applied arts. This exhibition of artistic fundamentals opened my eyes to a world of ideas and creativity. Not knowing immediately where to apply this creativity, I went through several phases: graphic arts, fashion, automotive, product, architecture, and it was only in Strate that I finally discovered my vocation.

The Interaction Design program allowed me to understand that one of the areas where design creates the most impact is digital.

In an increasingly complex, connected and dynamic world, the urgency of putting meaning, simplicity, and beauty in it seemed like a huge opportunity. Social networks, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, internet of things are some of the waves that sweep across all aspects of our daily lives: health, mobility, politics, finance, communication, etc. More than a department, the major Design of Interaction made me understand what is the mission of designers: play a key role in these societal transformations.

Transcendenz: your degree project? Transcendenz is a concept that explores a contemplative approach to new technologies. The idea is based on the observation that our smartphones facilitate our needs for productivity, entertainment, communication, but support us little in our need for reflection or introspection. Transcendenz is a platform that offers connection to an invisible reality, that of philosophical ideas, concepts and questions, which the world is full of, but which our eyes cannot perceive. By using Transcendenz, the world around us is changing. It is up to the user to question these transformations and to grasp the message they contain. By sensitizing ourselves to the world as it is, and not as it appears, the concept invites us to broaden our ways of thinking.

>>> See his Diploma project
  • What can you tell us about your visit to Strate?

What makes Strate for me are students and teachers. Students feed off each other’s creative differences and each teacher brings a complementary approach to the design profession. Strate School of Design has allowed me to explore different horizons while being a stepping stone to the opportunities that matter most to me. The supportive and relaxed atmosphere helps create an ideal context. It feels at work and at home.

  • Leaving Strate, what was your journey like and where are you today?

In 2011, I did my end-of-study internship at IDEO, an innovation agency in the United States. Following the internship, I was offered to stay full-time. Today, I am a project manager, and our teams work on many design opportunities for a wide range of clients in various fields: transportation, health, renewable energy, and education to name a few. We work in multidisciplinary teams with engineers, business managers, and designers sitting around the same table. This approach reminded me of a lot of Strate programs that bring together students from different disciplines and schools to design innovative products.

  • What link can you make today between the training you received at Strate and your job?

Beyond the tools that are taught to us, I learned some values, that seem to me, essential to the job. In a society with more and more specialized trades, the image of a solitary genius has become a fantasy. Teamwork is an indispensable art in the industry. Listening to each other, collaboration, sense of observation are qualities that increase the impact of our products.

Strate has also always put the human at the centre and not technology. Technology is the horse of innovation, and it’s up to the designer to bring the human to guide the race.

  • Do you have anything to say to students who want to return to Strate?

Each year new challenges arise, and we see a new type of designer emerge. For example, today, virtual reality designers are on the rise, while there was little science fiction. Everything changes so fast, it’s fascinating and destabilizing at the same time. In this context I have some tips:

  1. Stay curious for life, not just in the design world. By observing changes in the needs and behaviours all around us, we stay one step ahead of the emerging world.
  2. Learn to be comfortable with complexity. The issues that modern designers are trying to solve are becoming larger and more ambiguous. When engineers, marketers, and strategists turn to designers and ask, “What do we do?” The goal is not necessarily to give an answer but to ask the right questions to move the project forward.
  3. Have fun! It is one of the coolest jobs in the world, and especially a job that continues to grow and stimulate throughout life.

 

You can connect with Michaël Harboun here.

This article was translated from French. You can read the original article here.