Meet The Team: Reinoud de Jong
A lot has changed around here over the past couple of years — a new name, new direction and even new people. But Reinoud de Jong, one of our concept designers, is one of the steady forces in our office who has continued to grow alongside us and push our projects forward.
“I started as a concept designer here in 2014, and a lot has changed over the years,” Reinoud tells us from his home office. “My core activities have remained the same, I’m still a concept designer, I guess this is what I am meant to do. But the design process and tools are evolving all the time and I’ve gotten the chance to work on so many different projects over the years.”
Reinoud came to MODYN by way of TU Delft, where he studied industrial design engineering, and the Domus Academy in Milan, where he studied transportation design. At MODYN, he’s taken on a variety of projects, but like many of us, was always drawn to the mobility products.
“I really supported it when we made the shift to work specifically in mobility design last year,” Reinoud admitted. “It just made sense, mobility was already at the heart of the business and it’s actually where my passions lie, so it is great when these come together.”
This week, we sat down with the concept designer to talk about his career here, his passion for things that move and the latest mobility products he’s worked on.
So what is your day-to-day like here at MODYN?
“There is a lot of variety, because our projects are so different every time. Of course now with COVID, we’re sometimes forced to work at home. But, I love it when I can get back into the office these days to interact and collaborate with my colleagues.
At the office, I love the creative process — that’s my favorite part of the job, figuring out solutions on your own — but also brainstorming with the team. I also have access to the model workshop. I like this physical part of the process — making models, sometimes just basic prototypes can be so valuable in the process. Working with VR has also proven to be a great tool, and is really become embedded in our day-to-day workflow. We also have regular meetings with our clients, and of course, it is always exciting to present your work, hear their feedback and get energized. “
Before you mentioned that mobility design is really your passion. So tell me about your connection to mobility design.
“I guess it started when I was a child — I was always sketching and playing with toy cars. I actually remember sketching trucks when I was little and learning about drawing perspective. And that’s a battle for a kid! But, I remember slowly getting better at it; it was just always fun for me.
My father would also take me to these truck expos in Amsterdam, and I remember climbing into the cabs of the trucks and just being in awe . My grandfather also ran a body shop out of the house I was born in, so I guess it’s in my blood.
But later on, I realized mobility is so much more than trucks and cars, it is a vital need for every human being. I believe here at MODYN we are contributing, on many levels, to improve how people and companies move around and I love being a part of that.”
Did you get the chance to work with DAF Trucks here at MODYN? That must have been a real full-circle moment for you.
“Honestly, it was like a dream come true. I worked with them last year on the latest truck, and that was just awesome. There’s this thing that they always do, which is create these full-scale clay models of the trucks. I was able to work on that!”
And you’ve gotten to work on other automotive projects, too, like the VDL Next Gen Citea that was unveiled earlier this year. Tell us about your involvement with that.
“I was responsible for the interior and exterior concept design. I also helped out with the research beforehand — that ‘digging’ phase. During that research phase is when we really decided that this bus shouldn’t follow typical automotive design, but instead, follow architecture and really fit in the city of the future.”
As someone who worked on this so closely, what do you think this bus stands for in terms of the future of mobility?
“Well, it’s really cutting edge. Besides having that clean and electric drive train that makes it really environmentally responsible, the design also sets this bus apart. The Next Gen Citea was designed to welcome people, to really be friendly. Typically, busses are large and intimidating. But we worked really hard to make this bus feel part of the city as a whole, a part of the ecosystem that people enjoy interacting with.”
Now it’s not automotive, but another big mobility project you’ve been working on lately is the child car seat that just won you guys a Red Dot Concept Award. I heard that it was your initial design that was chosen for this project.
“Yeah, so I made the kind of ‘key sketch’ that our team developed further. The brief from our client was that they wanted to make a car seat that could fit a newborn but grow with the child up to ten years of age. And I mean, that’s quite a challenge.
When you look at car seats, they typically have these long necks, because only the headrest is adjustable. And especially for the older child, the seat looks out of proportion just raising the headrest, and actually, you don’t get the same sense of safety. And that’s what we wanted to maintain. The car seat we designed uses stretch fabric and moving panels to continuously grow with the child — all the while maintaining a cohesive, proportional feel.”
What was the most exciting part of that project for you?
“I guess it was really seeing it come to fruition — getting to see that your theory, all the ideas in your mind, actually work. You know, we sketch it on the computer, and part of it comes to life then. But, when it’s a physical prototype and you see that it moves the way you want it to, that’s the best part. Seeing that your sketch is actually feasible.”
So, what’s your favorite part of this job?
“It’s great to just be on your own and be creative and sketch. But, it’s also great to see how your sketch is picked up and collaborate with the team. I really like interacting with my colleagues because everyone has their own expertise and it’s really easy to just go over and talk to someone and ask for advice or talk through a design problem. I also like that it’s not like Groundhogs Day around here! There’s such a diversity of products we work on — every day is different and I love that.”
What are you obsessed with in mobility design right now?
“The transition happening in cities is really interesting to me because so much is going on. You know, cars are being phased out and other modes of transport are being promoted. Sustainability and electrification also have really exciting prospects — there’s going to be a lot of innovation there and I think MODYN has a lot to contribute as well.”
And when you’re not working, where can we find you? What are your hobbies and what do you like to do for fun?
“I’ve gotten into motorcycles over the past couple of years, which I really love. I bought a new one last year and rode it quite a bit, actually. I’d love to do more with that professionally, too. I love rebuilding and customizing them as a hobby, but it would be amazing to get to design a motorcycle.”
Is that your dream project to work on?
“Definitely motorcycles and personal urban mobility in general, that’s something I really love and would be thrilled to work on.”