Ufuk Bircan Özkan

Specialized in Toy Design.

Ufuk Bircan Özkan

About Ufuk Bircan Özkan

Born in 1986, Ufuk Bircan Özkan graduated from Middle East Technical University, Department of Industrial Design in 2009. He designed products for market-leading brands including Burosit, Grammer, TEMSA, Mercedes-Benz and MAN. Mostly focused on transportation seating and vehicle interior designs lately, Özkan explores the unexpected forms and wows the users at first sight. For more information please visit http://ufubo.design

  • Winner of 2 A' Design Awards.
  • Specialized in Toy Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Toy
  • Engineering
BlindBox Wooden Game

BlindBox Wooden Game

Toy Design

Agile 4525L Passenger Seat

Agile 4525L Passenger Seat

Engineering Design

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Interview with Ufuk Bircan Özkan

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
In my childhood I had been playing with play dough and building bricks mostly. I also loved drawing at that time. I didn't usually buy new toys, instead I built my toys from parts or pieces of my old toys. These were the early clues of my interest in design. Then I was interested in cars in my adolescence. Being an industrial designer became a solid target for me when I was 16.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
I currently design passenger seats for commercial vehicles in Inova Otomotiv, in Bursa/Turkey. You can find more information about Inova on its website: www.inovaotomotiv.com
What is "design" for you?
As design is one of the oldest activities in the human history, it is an inevitable daily habit for me too. Design makes a progress for your life, it makes the change between now and tomorrow.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
I like to design anything that makes people say "I need it!", regardless of the product's category.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
I can say that my favorite design is always the one I will design next. I don't have a specific favorite one because it may slow me down in means of being productive.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
The first mass-produced product that I design is a bellboy trolley for hotels. Details are available at: http://ufuboid.blogspot.de/2011/06/peb511-bellboy-arabas.html
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
The material I use for a product design depends on the project. Some products need to be produced from acrylic materials where some need conventional platforms like milling, welding and mounting.
When do you feel the most creative?
I feel most creative when I have an idea even I don't expect myself to come up with.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
I think that a product has a value if it is usable. So I focus on the product's function, and then form follows function.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
In the beginning of a design process I feel ambitious and I don't want to call a design "finished" until I feel satisfied.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
Realization of a design only proves that it can be produced. I am elated on hearing the high demand from the market.
What makes a design successful?
I call a design successful only if it blends function, aesthetics and commercial value well together. If any one of these features is missing then it lacks some design quality.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Being good or bad for a design depends on the solution it offers to the root problem. We should not judge products in every objective, but in the subject it covers.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
In fact, everybody is a designer, but a professional is the conscious one. So a professional designer should take action and be a leader that care about the human and earth. Every single subject including energy consumption, production materials and effects of operating the product should be considered as a chance to take social responsibility.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
Design is being more and more digitized. Through the evolution of design from the first human; design chronologically focused on function, commercial value and aesthetics. Now it becomes more interactive with user experience with the support of digital interfaces.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
I never had personal exhibitions but my designs are already exhibited several times:04.06.2009 - 07.06.2009, Ankara/Turkey:METU ID Graduation Projects Exhibition18.01.2012 - 21.01.2012, Antalya/Turkey:Anfaş Hotel Equpiments Expo28.03.2012 - 01.04.2012, İstanbul/Turkey:Hostech by TUSİD Expo - Hospitality Technologies Exhibition21.11.2013 - 22.11.2013, Chennai/India:Product Design Dayshttp://www.designamid.com/magazine.php?pageno=13210.05.2013 - 12.05.2013, Gdansk/Poland:About Designhttp://www.designamid.com/magazine.php?pageno=19715.04.2013 - 27.04.2013, Ex-Chiesa di San Francesco, Como/Italy:MOODhttps://competition.adesignaward.com/gallery-expand.php?t=2&y=201217.04.2014 - 18.04.2014, Bursa/Turkey:Otomotiv Tasarım Yarışması Sergisi (Automotive Design Contest Exhibition)04.08.2014 - 25.08.2014, Broletto di Como, Como/Italy:MOODhttp://competition.adesignaward.com/gallery-expand.php?t=2&y=201325.09.2014 - 02.10.2014, Hannover/Germany:IAA Commercial Vehicles 2014, 65th IAA International Motor Show - Commercial Vehicles11.10.2014 - 14.10.2014, Chengdu/China:Master of Design - Chengdu Design Weekhttp://competition.adesignaward.com/gallery-expand.php?t=2&y=201404.12.2014 - 06.12.2014, İstanbul/Turkey:Türkiye İnovasyon Haftası Sergisi (Turkey Innovation Week)
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
I have inspirations often from the environment of the object that I will design. I had inspirations from architecture when I had been designing hotel equipments. Now I have my inspirations from humans and automotive while designing passenger seats.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
I like Rams' design philosophy which is pure and functional, but the world has changed in time. While keeping purity, I try to use more organic forms and surfaces with industrial finishes. This style helps me blend human and industrial products at some point.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live in Bursa, Turkey. As I have worked in global companies since the begining of my professional life, I tried to avoid my culture affecting my designs. I have to focus on the design brief as it describes the target market well.
How do you work with companies?
I usually prefer working as an in-house designer which keeps me really comfortable.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
That question actually needs a literature-long answer. Every company has its own characteristics and needs. It's an important HR job I think.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
Positives of being a designer are mostly seen in daily life. It effects every habit you have. You see things in different perspectives and you have more empathy and sympathy in daily life. Probably the most disturbing negative is that your brain rarely rests. You may have thoughts about design every moment.
What is your "golden rule" in design?
Function. If a user cannot benefit a product, then that's a loss.
What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
Unfortunately "Which software are you using to design?". I have to declare that design does not require a software, or its quality does not depend on the software you use. It is same as asking a poet "Which pen do you use while writing poems?"
Who are some of your clients?
I have designed products for market-leading brands including Burosit, Evinoks and Grammer.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
In short term, I want to add more value to my company's product range. I want to be in automotive industry as a designer in the future. It is one of my oldest dreams, from my childhood.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I don't have a team, I prefer designing my own products. Of course, I get engineering support when needed.

Designer of the Day Interview with Ufuk Bircan Özkan

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I graduated at Middle East Technical University, Department of Industrial Design at 2009. After working as a freelancer designer in Bursa for a while, I have completed my 12-month military service. In 2011 I started working with Evinoks A.S. as an in-house designer, where I get my first A’Design Award in 2013. Later that year I sign with Grammer A.S., where I get my second award in 2014. Currently I’m designing passenger seats for Inova A.S. since 2015.
How did you become a designer?
I loved to play with creative toys like building bricks and play dough in my childhood. Also I was sketching cars, and following the car industry closely. These passions grew up with me and in high school I discovered industrial design as a profession.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
As an in-house designer, firstly I look for our customer’s requests. If there isn’t a solid requirement for the new project, then I build up my own restrictions. I examine the vehicles and the design language of the brand I am designing to. I mix it with our own design language to fit the design for both companies. Then I start creating first concept drafts either on paper or by digital sketching. Then we eliminate our solutions in a series of internal meetings before presenting them to our customers or to our boss. After detailing the designs, I start creating 3D computer models and continue detailing. The third phase is building a mock-up or a prototype. We may use 3D printed parts and vacuum formed plastics. Seat foams and fabrics are mostly hand-formed but with a good finish.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
Best feeling is the one when a customer or our boss sees the design and smiles. During the whole process, the first time I see a plastic part I designed coming from injection molding arrives to the office brings me also great joy. The peak point of my emotions in a project comes when all parts of the product are mounted and the seat is completed.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
I like playing. I remember, when I was an elementary school student, I create some mini games on my desk at home instead of doing my homework. These games were, in fact, reflections of my homework subjects and they kept me creative during those years. I like to search, try and demonstrate the subjects so I can understand the issues better and easily.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
I’m interested in automotive industry for a long time, and I want to be take part in automotive design projects. I’m designing passenger seats for minibuses, buses and coaches since 2013. I want to be one of the experts in this product group for now, first in Turkey and then globally.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
Young designers should not forget that they are a brand themselves. What a successful designer does is going to be remembered by his/her name for ever. Never allow brands or companies take over you. According to me, another important point is selecting their own dream industry as soon as possible and developing themselves according to that sector. Since there are many designers around, a designer should do at least one thing in their design process better than other designers.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
I can’t really suggest very common tips for everyone, because everyone has own special abilities and techniques. Also any suggestions should be special to the industry they are in. To sum up, every designer should design their own designer profile and workflow too. For example, I even design my software UI to fit my own needs.
What is your day to day look like?
My day starts with checking my emails and meetings. I plan my day in the morning and check a few websites I follow to feed my designer soul. I create side-projects that mostly don’t have deadlines. So I can deal with them during a boring day to keep myself motivated. Doing some sketching, some rendering and graphic designs for my company allows me to breathe and rest my brain for a while.
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
Because I design for automotive industry, I try to follow the trends there. Brands showcase their latest car and commercial vehicle concepts every year in auto shows and exhibitions. The next year some of these forms and colors and user experience features become trend. Without touching our brand’s design language too much, I sometimes implement those trending forms to my designs. If you are designing a passenger seat; safety is the first thing you have to take care of. Then the seat’s features must function well. Visuals come third in the process.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
This question is almost as hard as “What is love?” question. Actually I like Dieter Ram’s approach to the design. Although he didn’t set the 10 principles his own, they are quite qualifying while defining whether a design is good or not. Merging them with Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s approach where he defines “perfection” are the first things I think when I start to evaluate a design. I am a perfectionist and I am not happy with a design if it is not perfect. So; a design must not contain any irrelevant thing, must function right and must keep its user happy.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
Design never ends. You can always make a design better, either in short term or in long term. Technological advancements, better production capabilities and new materials always create new paths for designers. In this case, my designs generally become ready about the deadline. I can’t stop myself if I have more time left in the project calendar and try to generate alternatives to my designs.
What is your biggest design work?
I have recent designs in last year which I find quite nice for now – I know I won’t like them in a couple of years. One is a long distance bus passenger seat I designed for TEMSA, namely “Agile 5030”. It has some innovative accessories like a mobile phone holder, and an extraordinary service tray with a separate cup holder at the back of the seat. It is also more comfortable than our previous seats. The other design, “Agile 4525L” is a minibus/van passenger seat designed for Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans which are going to be sold in Turkey. It has an unusually formed backrest foam which has a twisting form from its side to front face. Also a new type of armrest and side cover complements the design. Both designs started with good customer briefs, presentation of concept sketches, renders and mock-ups. In the end, good quality products are achieved.
Who is your favourite designer?
As I mentioned before, I am a fan of Dieter Ram’s simplicity. All extended answer is hidden in the first sentence here.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
Products gain value when their users approve them. This means, every product must talk to a local culture, or create a globally acceptable culture of its own. This leads me to get inspiration from my own culture for our local products as well as global automotive culture as they are acceptable in almost every culture. I believe design can change cultures and society’s life quality. Human brain tries to organize things unwillingly in orders, in groups, in colors, in functions etc. Well-designed products do this themselves and allows brains to deal with them less. On the other hand, user-oriented designs make life easier in every aspect. An advanced society cannot be thought without design.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
I am one of that well-organized employees. File structure on my computer, the order on my desk and workshop is always defined. Any other person can easily find what is searched. This makes me use my time better. I hate wasting even a little time for simple things, like searching a file in my hard disk for a few minutes. I believe every employee is actually an independent supplier for the company. Everyone has a different career and business which form a company all together.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
I am currently a member of ETMK (Industrial Designers’ Society of Turkey) and try to involve in advancing industrial design culture in Turkey. I also accept students for internships and graduation projects. I had two presentations for students, one in a high school and one in Uludağ University. I always try to attend conferences as a participant if I am available, but I haven’t received an invitation yet for being a speaker.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
I guess I can’t tell you all of the benefits of attending A’Design Award and winning as there are countless of them. Firstly, being a winner created a great atmosphere around me. It brings a great publicity in the community. Moreover, people from other countries try to contact me for my products. And small gifts from my companies are the bonuses of being a winner.

Extended Interview with Ufuk Bircan Özkan

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I graduated from Middle East Technical University Department of Industrial Design in 2009.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
I willingly became a designer. I decided to be a designer at 2nd grade of high school and didn't change my mind then.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
I advise them to be really good at one particular talent. They must do at least one thing better than almost all other people. This can be design research, concept design, visualisation, material usage and knowledge etc.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
Good designer designs products everybody wants and uses. Great designers make people "wow!".
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
Good design must be pure, simple and smart. It should visually interact with its users in every aspect.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
Design is the discipline what makes life better. Good design brings it above average and provides a higher comfort.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
As design is one of the oldest activities in the human history, it is an inevitable daily habit for me too. Design makes a progress for your life, it makes the change between now and tomorrow.

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