Well Made

Ep. 147 Taking things apart with Tyler Mincey

May 13, 2021 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

As more product categories are getting "smarter," are they actually getting better? Wires, buttons and ports are disappearing from tech devices, meanwhile microchips and apps are being introduced to products that, for decades, have worked just fine without them. 

Tyler Mincey is always thinking about the long view of new products. He's brought his decade of product experience from Apple, Fictive Kin, and Pearl Automation to the VC, Bolt, and on this episode, he's disassembling generations of past products and optimistically building toward a future that he's excited to invest in.

“It’s very empathetic to put yourself in the shoes of the original designers when you’re taking a thing apart.”

An experimental, remote, collaborative teardown. Taking things apart

0:20 Tyler was at Apple at a crucial time, secretly working as the Engineering project manager on the first generation iPhone. He takes us through his past roles at Apple, Pearl Automation, Fictive Kin, and now, Bolt.

20:48 Through the lens of autonomous vehicles, Tyler and Stephan start diving into the tension between the desire to push a category beyond it's status quo, while working within the confines of existing supply chains and infrastructures. 

When Bolt is investing in a company, especially pre-revenue, they're looking at the long-view of how this product will become an ongoing part of people's lives. 

31:52 As tech is popping up in more and more products, consumers are left wondering, do I really need a smart mug? For Tyler, smart objects should have tech that's ambient. 

35:38 To really get to know a device, you need to take it apart. Tyler shares the origin of the Teardown Library — a physical and online place to examine disassembled objects. Before you build something new, he says there's a lot you can learn about how it's been done before. 

While software components of a product can stay up-to-date for generations, hardware updates are limited to more physical constraints. As devices evolve, Tyler contemplates the tension between trailblazing and jumping the gun. 

58:36 It's time that product designers start with a long view, from sourcing to disposal. Tyler talks about what it looks like when a company designs for more sustainable disposal and how being small can be a super power for a more sustainable supply chain. 

1:04:52 To wrap up, Tyler and Stephan are optimistic about the next phase of sustainable design that doesn't try to disguise a sustainable material for its less sustainable counterpart. Honesty of materials isn't just about setting new expectations for the look of materials — it's about tackling the tough choices that are often ignored on the path to greenwashing.


Also mentioned on the show: 


You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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