Posted on Friday, November 12, 2004 by Jim Norrena
Designer Roxanne “Roxy” Lo has set in motion the coolest Ibis bikes in the Bay Area, designed for CamelPak and Pottery Barn, and worked for Design Continuum, frog design, fuseproject, and Gingko Designs in San Francisco. Roxy’s talent has taken her to worldwide locations, yet she attributes her success to empathy. “I truly care about the product, and developing new ideas is fun!”
Roxy’s career path began in high school during a pilot engineering program that led her to UC San Diego before she transferred to CCA. “I chose CCA for its good reputation and basis in the community and fine arts,” says Lo.
“CCAC projects suspended judgment and reality,” remembers Roxy, and she recalls this approach today when problem solving. “To really rethink a product—CCAC gave this to me.” She remembers an assignment that called for designing a piece of fruit, as well as a project during which she created a disability kit with ramps for Mattel Inc.’s Barbie’s Dream House that earned her an Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) merit scholarship.
Roxy admits: “CCA gave me the confidence to think and design outside of the box. Instructors Barry Katz, Ignacio Valero, Steven Holt, and Yves Béhar helped cultivate my mind and heart. My work in school was never glossy. The 'why,' the experience, and the impact—social and environmental—was part of the process to innovation. I felt that the breadth of courses I took outside of industrial design helped me, too.”
CCA’s interdisciplinary approach to learning allowed Roxy to sharpen her skills. “Furniture and printmaking helped me push beyond handheld objects and really helped me home in on understanding that I loved the process of making things. An extended education course in ceramics was also great, and helped me to gain understanding when I worked in the house wares / tabletop industry."
Today Roxy designs only lines, not single products, and this gives her a bigger picture analysis and greater responsibility.
“As a designer, I’m very aware of our impact and prices versus quality. I strive to be ecological, humanitarian, and responsible, and I believe in changing and improving a product even before things become a legal issue. I create companies that are sensitive to the product, the environment, and the consumer,” Roxy adds.
The Mojo was the first bike Roxy designed for Santa Cruz–based Ibis Bicycles, and she worked on the fall 2008 launch of the Light & Motion Bike, for which she was responsible for designing the bicycle lighting line and strategizing packaging and accessories. The bike industry has only a few top-positioned women, and “the bar is set lower,” she says. “It is a male-dominated, engineering-based industry, but bikes today are seen as sexier, and the industry’s trendier for lifestyle cycling.” Lo says that this shift in trends has helped her as a female designer.
Roxy also is engaged in a project that takes her beneath the surface: Light & Motion Underwater Imaging. “I’m designing a new underwater video camera housing for high-end lights. They will go 200 feet below sea level. This is about ergonomics, not gravity. We need weights for neutral buoyancy with this product,” she explains. “I’m strategizing new markets to design less expensive, approachable, easy-to-use products. I’m very hands on with product design, but I’ve never been scuba diving!”
As an alumnus, Roxy has stayed active with CCA. She cotaught with Jay Baldwin in 2000 ID 1, taught Photoshop/Illustrator in 2001, participated as an alumni panelist in 2006, and participated in one of CCA’s Career Expos to recruit a full-time hire for Pottery Barn Kids.
What is the ambitious designer doing when she’s not working? “I don’t have an off switch!” she laughs. “I’m always thinking about packaging and the details.” In her spare moments, Roxy loves to surf, mountain bike, and cook.
What is it about the Bay Area that’s a draw for Roxy? “I have lots of international connections, and there are good flights to Asia, but many clients are within a 70-to-80-mile radius of the Bay Area. It’s relaxed, and there is a vibe here. Even though I don’t hit every art opening in town, it’s happening here and that energy keeps me going.”
Born 1976 in Oakland, California
CCA degree:BFA 1999, Industrial Design
Current occupation:Business partner (bike manufacturer) and sporting goods consultant
Influences at CCA:Yves Béhar, Andy Hodge, Barry Katz, Ignacio Valero, Tom White, Ken Rignall, Donald Fortescue