I grew up in Mexico in the 1960s. As a child, life was busy. Family activities took up a great deal of my time, and I attended a Montessori School—in which children were encouraged to develop their own creative skills at their own pace—for most of my formative years.
Long before I ever dreamed of a career in product design, I was obsessed with putting together plastic models. It could have been a truck or just a regular car—I was into it all. What fascinated me was the notion of how all these many gears and various pieces worked in tandem to create one beautiful, cohesive whole.
I heard about ArtCenter College of Design through a man named Rafael Davidson, who was a friend of my father’s. It was Rafael who first suggested I should pay a visit to the ArtCenter campus.
Keep in mind, this was before the age of the internet and social media. I couldn’t just Google a picture of the school. As a kid from Mexico who could only dream of the kind of things ArtCenter might promise, the idea of going there was a total leap of faith.
I fell in love with ArtCenter the moment I stepped foot on the campus. It reminded me of the school where I spent my K-12 years, where students were encouraged to work on perfecting their technique in a nourishing and healthy creative space.
At ArtCenter, I had the privilege of meeting the great teacher Joe Farrer.
To call Joe a perfectionist would be an understatement. Just ask any of his shop students. He was a kind man, but also a very serious man. To Joe, ArtCenter was not a place for experimentation. In his mind, it was a sacred temple, and to be able to work and study there was a privilege.
Joe’s tremendous standing with the faculty and students did nothing to reduce his somewhat fearsome reputation at the time. The fact that I happened to live next door to him and his partner Rosa added a further wrinkle to the matter. We ended up having many dinners together and forming an enduring bond. Rosa also worked at the school—she was the head of admissions. To this day, I have fond memories of my time spent with the two of them and it was ultimately ArtCenter that brought the three of us together.
Joe taught me about the importance of details. There’s a lot of thankless, miniscule work that goes into product design. To Joe, this was the real heart of what we did. Details are what make us stand out from the crowd. I’d had a tough work ethic from a young age, but Joe’s classes made me tougher. He pushed us because he believed we were capable of greatness.
There’s a name for what ArtCenter and Joe Farrer taught me—three-dimensional thinking. It’s a notion that goes back to my days as a boy in Mexico, fiddling with the insides of model cars and other products, trying to figure out what made them work as they did. It’s a way of thinking that transcends the visual aspect of what we do. It is the complete and comprehensive translating of complex ideas into a physical object that can be understood and utilized by anyone. ArtCenter taught me how to think and see in multiple dimensions. It continues to define who I am to this day.
BS 1982 Product Design
Founder and Director of Pablo Meyer y Asociados