I was reading Tekni’s Creative Inventor Magazine, and ran across an article by Jamie Klopp, the founder of Atmos Group. He’s an expert in the field of Aerospace and Automotive design, and I thought that I’d really like to chat with this guy. I mean, who doesn’t like airplanes and cars, right? So we had a great chat about his company, the design industry, and how he uses the Autodesk Design platform.
The Atmos Group Web site at http://www.atmos-group.com/
I asked Jamie about his interests, and what makes him tic. What I found was that we shared a great deal of interests. He said “In addition to work interests, I advocate for Soccer, Tennis, Ultimate Frisbee, Downhill Skiing, Passive Solar, Oregon Beers, and things my 1-year old in into, like cardboard forts and yelling new words. I’m a Instrument Rated Pilot, prefer Android, and hate Facebook.”
I can totally relate because I still yell out new words and act like a 1-year old when drinking Oregon Beer.
A little about Jamie
Jamie grew up in Rochester Minnesota, and attended High School in New Hampshire. Then on to Colorado College for an economics degree. Yeah, that’s right, another disillusioned economics major. A few years into it he realized that he didn’t really want a career in economics or finance. He ran across an article about a BMW designer who had attended The Art center College of Design in Pasadena California. That was where he wanted to be, so he moved there, and went through their design program for 4 1/2 years.
He added “Once I got there it was clear to me that I wanted to do more than just cars. I paid attention in the product design classes and tried to stay diverse. I thought I would go into product design when I graduated, but surprised myself by taking a car job”
Yeah, but what a dream job
He was offered a job at Honda R&D in Torrance, CA and he took it. “It’s a job that you don’t really turn down” Jamie noted. “I went into car interiors which is much more design intensive and less “styling-centric”, much more diverse than car exteriors, so that helped me a lot”. He worked with the company for 6 years before setting out on his own.
“The more diverse I can stay, the smarter I am about all design…It’s really a goal of mine to do everything”.
Today, Jamie runs his company from the office at his home in Bend, Oregon. That is a dream of many people and I found him to be quite in touch with the subject as a paradigm.
“I see a trend of people that have started out on their own. The technology is there and the promise of the home office that has been building over the last 20 years has reached critical mass”.
Jamie has been doing a lot of Airplanes recently, and he has a lot of interest in Aircraft interiors. He would love to do more furniture, medical devices, and architectural visualization. “People want better renderings of their house.” he adds. “They are tired of the watercolors and isometrics. The market is much more competitive that it was 2 years ago”.
Autodesk Alias Design
Jamie uses Autodesk Alias Design for most of his design work, a 10 year old skill he picked up in school. From there he moves data to Keyshot, his renderer of choice. He knows Solidworks, and adopted the Autodesk Inventor platform last year. A full compliment of Adobe Products rounds it all out.
So I asked him about Alias, and how he felt about it since Autodesk took it over.
“Alias has always been an isolated product, that never worked or played well with others. Autodesk has improved that and gotten rid of a lot of the bugs.” he said. “With the new release of Alias I’m happy; sketching works, modeling works, it works on my tablet. All these things work, and I fought them for years. It is finally there.”
He explained that the application is very powerful and incredibly customizable, and can be configured just about any way you want. The problem is that while there is a lot of potential for improvement. no one wants to see the interface changed. While everyone wants to see Autodesk change their pet product issues, there is a general fear that a big change will screw up the functionality and workflow.
Despite his emphatic descriptions of Keyshot, I was compelled to ask about his take on Autodesk Showcase. He indicated that with Alias and Inventor being under the Autodesk umbrella, he gave Showcase a look. His impression was that Showcase’s functionality was designed for presentations, and not what he needed for the intense renderings he dealt with. He seemed quite open to any Autodesk product that would pick up the rendering load, so we’ll see what the future holds there.
Concept Industry chat
Jamie firmly believes that “Any good project involves with a lot of good research”. I wanted to know more about the processes he was involved in, and he was nice enough to take me on a brief descriptive tour of the Automotive Design process.
The process starts with “ideation” phase, sketching to narrow down ideas. Then it moves to modeling, which can either start in clay or through Alias. The process allows you to go back and forth between software and clay, but inevitably nothing in the car world can be done without clay. I got sidetracked learning about the inner workings of the Automotive styling industry, which is a world all unto it’s own.
One thing I though was awesome was that the clay companies use a 5 axis mill to rough in a 1/4 scale clay model (and sometimes foam). They can refrigerate the clay to make it more machine millable. Further hand tuned modifications using clay tools are brought back to the computer by scanning the clay. The model is dusted with a powder and then light-scanned, resulting in a point cloud.
There is a continuous fight to maintain balance between style intent and feasibility. The feasibility process works to adjust the concept to a functional form by altering dimensions and constraints so that things ultimately fit, while not deviating too far from the original intent and style. The development process drags on for years ensuring the style, form, and function is planned out properly.
The Atmos Group
It was kind of interesting to reflect back on. While chatting about his life and experiences the tone was quite fun and we had some laughs. When I asked about wanting some more information about his company, he became quite matter of fact. He told me his goal was to assemble a network of expertise and capability. He works with designers from all over the world that are the best in their fields. Not only expertise in every field, but with every type of design application as well. The benefit to everyone is a substantially larger capability than the individual on his own.
The Atmos Group works with companies in the US, Asia, and Europe. They are quite confident and their portfolio is a true testament to their capabilities. Architectural, Aerospace, Automotive, Furniture, interior, structural, and exterior design and styling, and on and on. There does not seem to be anything the company cannot do, and they are excited about new horizons. Jamie added “We can do any type of design project, big or small. We can work on any phase of the design process, and we can do it better and cheaper than a big design house. Right now I’m confident that I could tackle any project. So bring it on”