Juan Jimenez (’12)
Juan Jimenez (B.S. ’12) left his Houston home to pursue industrial design at Quirky, in New York. This innovative start-up is a firm that focuses on getting inventive ideas from normal everyday people from concept to the shelf in a very short amount of time. It prides itself on a novel approach to determining which designs will advance from the initial prototype to a marketable product — they invite the general public to meetings every Thursday night. There, in a breezy, informal atmosphere replete with beer and comfy seats, the general public can vote on designs they would like to see make it to the next phase.
LUNAR COUGAR: What do you like most about working at Quirky? What sets it apart?
JUAN JIMENEZ: The best thing about Quirky is that it eliminates red tape and beaurocracy from the design process. It’s also just a lot of fun. It’s unlike any job I’ve ever had before — it’s exciting and there’s always something new to do.
What is the most challenging thing about creating a new design concept?
I narrow down a new concept by creating sketches, renderings and eventually, a prototype of the object I’m working on. People assume that the right choice is always the hardest choice. With design the right choice is usually the easiest choice. Designers can overcomplicate things. A UH professor of mine taught me that a product only has to do one thing, and do it really well.
What is a favorite memory you have of attending the Hines College?
I really loved that the ID program was so small. About 14 of us graduated in the same class, and the people I went to school with made it really fun. We were always challenging each other and pushing each other to do better.
Can you remember an “epiphany” you had while studying at UH, or the most important thing you learned?
I did have a favorite ID professor. One day, during my sophomore year, the professor pulled me out of class and told me I was not focusing. He told me that the way I was acting during college was a waste of time and money. It was the best thing anyone has ever told me. By being honest with me, he showed that he respected me. Realizing that I was in a bad situation, and understanding my own part in it, I decided to change. So, along with learning all the basics of how to fashion prototypes and use design software, I believe the most important thing I learned in the ID Program at UH was in regards to developing a work ethic.
Although you currently live in New York City, what did you like best about the city of Houston?
The best thing about Houston will always be that it’s home. Plus, I really miss the food. The food in New York is so bland! In Houston, the Vietnamese, barbeque and Cajun food is so good — I’ve always loved spicy food and Houston has the best. The live music scene in Houston is also something I miss.
What are your hobbies and what is it you enjoy about them?
I love to bicycle around New York, I enjoy jiu–jitsu and other than that, I really just like hanging out with my friends. I also am a big advocate of travel — I think you can learn a lot just being in a new city. I did an internship in Australia and I literally stayed in hostels until I figured it out. I guess you could say I’m a risk-taker.
Have you been on the UH campus recently?
I’ve actually reviewed student work in the Industrial Design program since I’ve graduated. I like to stop in to see what people are doing on campus and especially in the Hines College architecture building.
What advice do you have for current UH students?
I have a distinct memory of words my mother said to me while I was an undergraduate at the University of Houston: “Don’t settle for less than perfection. If you’re going to do something, do it phenomenally.” I would tell students at UH to take that advice to heart.