Kam Redlawsk (Kim) is using heightened design to inspire new ways of thinking. She has witnessed its potential to reshape ideas about the toy industry as a designer at Mattel and educate the world about disease through personal work as a creative director/designer for non-profit organization ARM (Advancement of Research for Myopathies).
“As an industrial design student, I had the opportunity to focus on two courses of study—transportation design and product design,” explained Redlawsk. “From transportation, I learned about discipline and form design. Product design taught me about building ideas and applying careful thought into a product. This is how I work today. Form and function work together, and one without the other makes a product incomplete.”
As a designer at Mattel, Redlawsk works on games and boys’ action play. Recently, she collaborated on the design of the brand’s Speed Racer collection. But her career involves more than design.
“Beyond overseeing the design phase, I collaborate with producers, marketing, engineering, costing and scheduling until the product actually reaches the shelf,” explained Redlawsk. “I’m also involved in conceptualizing new products. Recently, the VP level of Mattel decided to incorporate one of my concepts into the product line.
“Currently I am one of the project designers on this new product, and it is exciting to see your own idea be rewarded by becoming a reality. Toys are not just toys to me; they are products. They are influential and memorable. As a designer I am hoping to offer my industrial design perspective and experience to the toy industry."
Knowledge Redlawsk acquired at CCS and her professional experience at Mattel have contributed to her active involvement with ARM (www.hibm.org), an organization she came across in 2007 that raises research funds and awareness for HIBM (Hereditary Inclusion Body Myopathy)—a disease that has touched her life for the past eight years.
The designer, a Korean-American, was diagnosed with a Japanese genetic mutation of the disease (the second most common form of HIBM) while attending CCS. Because of the rarity she was told she would never find another patient and that there was no hope, but all of that changed when she found ARM by chance in Los Angeles.
“Since getting involved with ARM, I have had to do a lot with very little,” explained Redlawsk. “They had no media and little funds, as they put all their money into research. Never imagining it would be so much work, I offered my services pro-bono. After a day’s work at Mattel, I would go home and give all my time to ARM. I played the roles of the creative director, designer, scheduling, networking, producer, talent scout, event planner and the list goes on.
“I am now ARM’s creative director. My plan is to continue elevating the organization to a professional level where they can better represent and communicate what they are about. In the past they focused their efforts in the Persian Jewish community where those with the disease are often shamed. My goal is for ARM to become a global organization—to educate people from all ethnic backgrounds about orphan diseases and help find a cure faster by raising millions a year rather than just a couple hundred thousand.”
Redlawsk’s long-term goals are to continue growing as a designer and allow her experiences to guide both her professional and personal lives. Her dream is to establish her own design consultancy centered on products and design that directly help others and push the potential of a product’s meaning.
“Design is my absolute passion and I am ever so thankful to be doing what I love,” said Redlawsk. “It is not just drawing to me but the invitation to perceive vision and implement it. It is a reflection of oneself and an extended hand to another.”