Filed Under Culture
Meet Norio, Executive Creative Director

Norio is our Executive Creative Director and has been leading and inspiring teams at Astro for nearly 15 years. He's also a perpetual artist whose illustrations have been featured in numerous galleries, publications and even on products. Read on to learn about his start in design and what keeps him inspired.

How did you get started in design?

I owe the introduction to design to my brother. He was studying architecture at IIT in Chicago and suggested the design school because, “They build some cool looking things down there. You like to draw and make models.” The school was in the basement of the famed architecture school’s Crown Hall, designed by Mies Van Der Rohe.

Describe your new role, Executive Creative Director. How has your day-to-day changed?

The new role makes what I’ve already been trying to do as Creative Director at Astro for a while now, “official”. I feel that I have tried to contribute and lead in any way I can with all the teams and across the studio, not just in product design. Now it's something I will be evaluated on!

What would you consider important highlights or “turning points” in your career?

Getting laid off in 2001. It was an unexpected and challenging time; however, it did give me the time to reflect on what being a designer means to me. I also had a chance to meet other artists and designers outside of product design that I may have not connected with otherwise. It was encouraging to see how much talent and creativity there was and is out there.

What gets you really excited about design? What inspires your work?

The answer to these two questions are in many ways the same. It’s the talented, thoughtful, intelligent people I’ve worked with and for. I have had the pleasure and honor of collaborating with so many creative individuals that have shaped who I am as a designer.

What tech innovations or design shifts have impacted your career?

I have been at this for a while, and my answer will probably age me…

It’s exciting how technology has developed from my days of learning Alias v2.1 running off of SGI towers to the beginnings of generative design and the possibilities of AI or machine learning. I remember the days where CNC machining was state of the art and now you can have a 3D printer on every desk.

Design shifts and catch phrases come and go (and some stay). I’ve seen a lot from human factors to design methodology to user centered design to design thinking to UX. Whatever the new paradigm is, I believe design is still about delivering quality human experiences, no matter what the “product” is. The same can be said of any tech innovation I have seen or will see.

What are you most passionate about?

This is pretty straightforward but...Creating!

Thanks so much, Norio! And stay tuned for more interviews with other Superhumans of Astro.