Ep. 54: Eric Quint

Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer of 3M, incubated a lifelong habit of design thinking in youth at the family kitchen table. After studying engineering and industrial design he embarked on a distinguished career at Philips where he evolved from designer to design leader. Now, as the first CDO of 3M, he’s a champion of collaborative creativity and spends his energy in the exciting and complex job of pushing the front edge of progress. Oh, and he’s a jazz guy—find out how that influences his leadership style. LISTEN:

What is your earliest memory?

My earliest memories are linked to the moments of being a young child playing, building, exploring around and discovering the world. This photo represents design thinking 0.1 for me where the most amazing things were created by fearless experimentation and endless creativity, it is there where my early career started driven by curiosity and powered by dreaming big.

A young Eric Quint

A young Eric Quint

How do you feel about democratic design?

The intent of democratic design is to deliver meaningful solutions that are thoughtful and reachable to all. For me this is implicit when referring to good design. This design approach has been around for decades and architects like Gerrit Rietveld and Frank Lloyd Wright were driven by the same principles in their democratic architecture and designs applying minimalism and functionality, always with people in mind.

What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?

Stay close to your heart, believe in what you do and be passionate.

How do you record your ideas?

I share my ideas with others in a way that they believe it is already reality. The power of imagination and storytelling can be transformational to people and organizations.

What’s your current favorite tool or material to work with?

My favorite tool is my flight tracker app on my mobile phone, it gives me relevant information whilst being on the move, any time, any place and related to any people. Timing is essential in life.

What’s the best book you’ve read this past year?

Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, a fascinating biography of a one of a kind genius and creator, very inspirational.

Why is authenticity in design important?

Any design should have a personality and character, authenticity will make sure it is honest as well.

Favorite restaurant in your city?

“Campiello” is a great Italian restaurant with a wood-burning oven and tasteful local Italian dishes. Their philosophy, which resonates with me, is “Eat well, laugh often and live long.”

Who do you look up to and why?

People that think big, are genuine, accessible and passionate about what they do with purpose and positive impact.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve done and why?

It is the creation and realization of our 3M Design Center, a great place for collaborative creativity where our designers from diverse backgrounds feel at home and are trusted to explore how our sciences can impact people’s lives in positive ways.


What are the last five albums you listened to?

Esperanza Spalding – Junjo
Gary Burton – Reunion
Metheny Mehldau – Quartet
Biréli Lagrène – Electric Side
Metro – Live at the A-Trane

Eric jammin' on the guitar

Eric jammin' on the guitar

Visit 3M Design at 3m.com/design or follow them on Twitter.

Special thanks to Tai Navares and Alex Perez for editing this episode.
Music in this episode courtesy of El Ten Eleven—hear more on Bandcamp.
Shoutout to Jenny Rask for designing the Clever logo.