Written by Whitney Howard
Far from the typical artist, and passionate about her skillset, Delanie West is more than a designer. She is a manager, a business woman, and a creative all in one.
With strong methodical work ethic, Delanie is one of the few black female product designers. She is what I like to call “the Silent Artist,” or “the Quiet Mastermind.” She is the one who not only works behind the scene, but also she subsequently creates the scene. Delanie’s work can be described by many as art that is integrated into the functionality of our society. It is the same art that we as consumers purchase for desultory reasons, entertainment, and necessity. Delanie West is why I am able to easily type on a laptop, or effortlessly use a remote control- She is bridge between science and art.
As we spoke with Delanie, we had the pleasure of getting to know what all went into her work. The countless hours of planning, doing market research, leadership, and the implementing of by the book design principles.
“When you’re in product development you’re kind of in the background because the projects that you’re working on you really can’t talk about them until they are at market. So for the greater part of my life I just felt that I was kind of a secret agent” – Delanie West
Delanie is one of the few brains behind the creation of Sequin Pets – Happy the Hedgehog. A soft beady eyes stuffed toy hedgehog packaged in sleek blue box with a more than visible opening. I couldn’t help but notice the careful planning that went into the packaging and designing of such a popular toy. The biggest question that lurked my thoughts was “how and why?”
Delaine explained to me her process of conceptualization. She told me
“I knew about industry trends in terms of design and in terms of fundamental growth trends for children. There’s a trend in meaningful crafting. If you know about the fidget spinners, there’s a trend in offering products that are calming to children. So having knowledge, and being aware of these educational and market trends and sequins being a visual trend, I was able to connect the dots in an instant and ask a supplier to make something.”
Though a studious worker in the corporate field, she still had an element of artistry when it came to designing a simple, but complex toy. Doing market research, and studying behavior elements seemed to be the bulk of her work. But what stood out to me the most was the natural intuition of designing her product. The sort of just “go with your gut” inclination she developed.
“That idea, I was very hands on with because it happened pretty organically. I was at a show in China and I saw a few things in a vendor’s booth.”
As we continued to dive deeper into Delanie words, she expressed her concern about being one of the few black women, let alone person of color in the field she works in. Her concern, which is much like most African American’s and people of color, is that there is no one at the table making the decisions that impact the minority. There is nobody who represents us, when critical creative decisions are made.
“You hear those stories because of the brand power, but far too often you know that there are no people of color at the table making creative decisions. For example, H&M. That would have never happened had you had a creative of color at the table.”
What else do we know about Delanie?
She is a product designer who has now launched her own business called Be Super Creative, a platform that highlights the work she’s completed. Additionally, Delanie offers her expertise on product design and offers consultation to developing students.
To learn more about Delanie West visit her website at www.besupercreative.com