Pocketsquare is a new design firm based in Royal Oak, Michigan that was founded by David Lyon, Gary Braddock, and Nina Mital. Lyon and Braddock spent 23 years on the design teams at General Motors and Ford, respectively. Nina spent 13 years at General Motors on the human factors and infotainment program management teams.
When it comes to infotainment, “you have to understand the psychology of the user,” said Lyon in an interview with PULSE 2.0 at the Panasonic Automotive Systems office in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Lyon told me that an advantage that Pocketsquare has in developing infotainment system designs is the proximity to the three large American auto companies. “There are a lot of design teams focusing on user experience, but the Pocketsquare team understands its place in the entire automotive experience,” said Lyon.
When Lyon and Mital were getting ready to start Pocketsquare, they started to ask around if other automotive experts would be interested. They met Braddock through a friend of a friend. Braddock told me that he learned a lot while working at Ford, but wanted to try something brand new. He added that one of the last projects he did at Ford was in a small team of six and found that work was done at a faster pace. “Working in a smaller team makes it easier to innovate,” said Braddock. “Big companies have a hard time innovating so they buy innovation.”
The Pocketsquare team designs infotainment interfaces to make them safer and beautiful. Some of the technologies that the company utilize include eye tracking, gesture control, and augmented reality. The team has worked on 2 generations of Ford SYNC, the Ford Fusion SmartGauge, the Ford Focus Energi, 3 generations of Chevrolet MyLink, the Buick and GMC IntelliLink, and the Cadillac CUE.
The prototypes that I saw at the Panasonic Automotive office were the same ones that were displayed at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Here are a few images of the designs that the team put together.
Leaving their stable jobs
I asked the three of them about the challenges that they faced when leaving their stable jobs that provided the stability of salaries, 401(k) plans, etc. Mital said “We did not leave the company without a nice plan laid out.” She added that “Panasonic has been a fantastic partner.” Panasonic engineers work closely with Pocketsquare to put together prototypes and designs.
Braddock also said that he worked at Ford during the recession of 2008. “I saw many of my friends lose their job at that time so the stability is never really guaranteed at larger companies,” said Braddock.
Why the name “Pocketsquare?”
The name Pocketsquare was chosen because the company stands for “fashion” and “function,” just like a pocket square. When I interviewed the three founders, they had pocket squares on them – in Braddock and Lyon’s suit pockets and in Nina’s purse.