Systems Design Thinking Program


Tolga Caglar

Creative LAB

Co-Founder/Industrial Design Manager


With over a decade of experience and degrees from schools on two continents, Tolga Caglar (’12, MFA) has unique insight into the field of industrial design. He recently left his position as senior industrial designer at Stanley Black & Decker to pursue a new initiative, CreativeLAB, allowing him and co-founder Vincent Cook to approach the design process “in an ideal way.”

Tolga Caglar seated at table
“CreativeLAB gives us the freedom to develop products the way we’d always dreamed of,” said Caglar, co-founder and industrial design manager at CreativeLAB. “We take a systematic approach that begins with conceptualizing and evaluating ideas and turn them into tangible inventions and products.”

How does this approach work? First, CreativeLAB engages in brainstorming sessions, then moves into a phase of research and concept development. Next, they create a prototype that is tested with users and continually refined. They follow the product through production and brand development, including the design of its packaging, manuals and web sites/marketing materials.

“To balance the work intensity, we play foosball, use the bench press or lace up our gloves for a round with the sandbag,” he said. “It’s often in (or after) these moments of refreshment that we come up with our greatest ideas.”

Since the inception of CreativeLAB last March (2017), the team already has six products ready for the market in 2019. They design products for their trademarked brands for variety of different categories like baby products, kitchen tools and indoor/outdoor pest control units. They are currently working on two medical projects—one scheduled for release later this year (2018).

“It’s a very exciting time to be an industrial designer,” said Caglar. “Our role in these products and the potential value that we can add to people’s lives is more important than ever.”

Caglar’s blend of professional experience and knowledge gave him the confidence to give up a corporate position and begin his own venture. He realizes that it’s not enough to be a good designer; you have to know the business.

“I would say read those business practice books twice,” he laughed. “Well, of course you have to be a good designer first, but you need to understand every aspect and the different dynamics of the business as well.”

To stay on the cutting edge of the field, Caglar and his team are closely involved with the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and attend design-related shows such as CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the New York Auto Show, the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago among others.