College for Creative Studies: Product Design
Stephen Minarsch admits to having a “profound attraction to functional and aesthetically attractive products”—an attraction that serves him well as an industrial designer.
“That fusion between our emotional connections to certain products with the way we use those ‘everyday items’ serves as the basis for good design, regardless of what you are creating,” said Minarsch, a senior industrial designer at Microsoft.
He speaks from experience.
In less than 10 years, Minarsch has designed several types of products: flight decks (Boeing), yachts (Brunswick), mugs and other in-store products (Starbucks and PMI International), exhibit design (TMG Sports Marketing) and over 30 kitchen products and children's themed eating sets for the worldwide market (Zak Designs).
Most recently, Minarsch served as lead industrial designer for the Microsoft Band, Microsoft’s first wearable product with fellow CCCS alumnus Byung Cho as the other industrial designer on the Microsoft Personal Devices team.
“It’s very exciting to be a part of such an innovative team,” said Minarsch. “Design teams at Microsoft are very small; we act like a start up in a big company—moving fast and executing quickly on design and experiences.”
Minarsch landed his current position in 2013 when he was hired by Microsoft as a senior industrial designer for hardware/personal devices team.
“What I appreciate most about my career is the opportunity to work with so many talented, knowledgeable people,” said Minarsch. “Certainly, this includes other designers, but also many different engineers and manufacturers from around the world. I frequently travel overseas for quality assurance—to make sure the look, materials and finish are what we have envisioned. While international travel was a big part of my other jobs too, I now spend about 30 percent of my day doing design with the other 70 percent in more of a project management role, so it has become even more important…
“I also often find myself really appreciating those classes I took at CCS that exposed me to the manufacturing side of the business. Understanding the technical aspects of how things are actually made has been invaluable to me as a designer.”
Originally from southern California, Minarsch began his education at another design college on the West Coast before making the decision to transfer to CCS.
“I had heard about a really good design school up in Detroit,” said Minarsch. “I looked into it and was eventually offered a scholarship.
"I couldn’t pass up the school’s affordable tuition or its impressive reputation."
“In addition to teaching me about design and manufacturing, CCS helped teach me discipline. The experience helped prepare me for where I am today.”
Minarsch went on to earn his Masters of Fine Arts in industrial design from the University of Washington in Seattle (2011), where he also taught classes and worked with flight deck engineers on his thesis project. In his spare time, he enjoys boating, motorcycle riding, camping and enjoying the Pacific Northwest
To learn more about Stephen Minarsch, visit his LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-minarsch/11/59b/a12.