Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
Creating products that marry stylish aesthetics with usefulness has long been a driving force of Delta Faucet. Finding the talented designers to bring the best ideas to life is a crucial part of this process.
Delta industrial designer Jordan Bahler knew what she wanted to do before she knew there was an official career title. She was thinking of double majoring in mechanical engineering and graphic design when an adviser asked why she wanted such drastically different degrees. “In my mind, I would get a job at an engineering company and then work on their design team,” Bahler says, “They didn’t seem so different to me.” The adviser suggested a degree in industrial design, which was exciting news for Bahler. “I didn’t know industrial design was a degree or career until then,” she says.
What did you study?
I did my Bachelor’s in Industrial Design from Purdue University
What do you love about your work?
“As I learned more about it, it was a perfect fit: a job where I can use my art talent and apply it to real-world situations,” Bahler says. “I think every student starts out thinking they want to design cars or furniture or maybe shoes. But who knew?” The products and tools we use every day also deserve beautiful and functional design.
Tell us what you do
In her role at Delta, Bahler spends her days using state-of-the-art programs to design three-dimensional plumbing products. She watches how people use their faucets (observational research) and creates new designs that make life easier and are visually appealing. For example, the inspiration behind Delta Touch2O Technology came from watching people struggle to turn on their faucet when their hands were messy.
“If I ask someone how they use a faucet, they might skip steps because they don’t remember them,” Bahler says. “But if I watch them, I can take notes and see exactly the process they go through, including any small problems or grievances they might overcome.” In that way, Delta designers help solve problems and improve the function and efficiency of the most important spaces in a home.
She creates sketches, builds her concept on the computer and orders 3-D prototypes to feel the handles and check that the overall size is the best possible solution for the space. “It may take several tries to get it just right, but that is part of the design process,” Bahler says. She works with teammates to get feedback and find flaws and then works with engineers to make the models a reality.
Even a dream job comes with challenges, and the plumbing industry presents its own set. “Water scarcity is constantly changing the design from a usability standpoint, as national standards require less and less flow in bathing products,” Bahler says. Through a trial and review process, she and her team work to find solutions to satisfy these demands without sacrificing the experience of water users.
Your advice to students?
If you are interested in drawing, building or inventing new things, Bahler encourages you to consider industrial design. “Technology is creating more applied-art jobs than ever before,” she says, “We’re fortunate that more companies are starting to see creativity as a way to set themselves apart.” Don’t be afraid to try, fail and try again, so you can find a solution that perfectly suits the problem you’re trying to solve.
“Design is a process, and learning what went wrong can only help your next design be that much better,” Bahler says. “It’s a competitive field, but that can motivate you to hone your craft.”