The life of a concept designer at Specialized

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The Mixtape collection saw Kayla matching her love of music, with riding (Photo: Specialized)
The Mixtape collection saw Kayla matching her love of music, with riding (Photo: Specialized)
  • From bike frames to helmets and shoes, cycling graphic design is complex
  • Add the additional complexity of a hugely diverse rider demographic, and it is one of the most challenging jobs in outdoor graphic design
  • Kayla Clarot is an experienced designer at one of the world’s biggest cycling companies – and loves what she does 

If you think the hipsters at your local weekend market are obsessed with curated fashion, you don’t know many cyclists.

Even when they pretend not to, road, gravel, and mountain bike riders are deeply aware of colour and design.

The yearly product cycle of new bicycle frame colours and apparel is a testament to this. And with cycling’s hugely diverse audience of users, one theme does not work for all.

cycling gear
Kayla at her sketching desk. She revels in the challenge of creating new product aesthetics (Photo: Specialized)

Making products look - as good as they ride

Creating graphics and colourways that speak to a broad rider community and look good, even when caked in dust or mud, isn’t easy. And it is the calibre of challenge that Kayla Clarot, enjoys.

She works as a lead concept designer at American cycling superbrand, Specialized. With the considerable product portfolio marketed by Specialized, the canvas for innovation is immense.

"As the Lead Designer for the Concept team, a big part of my role is helping not only create and elevate the aesthetics around product within the team, but create a strategy around it as well. This includes colour, graphic design and any techniques applied to things like bike, helmet, shoe and apparel."

mountain bike design
Kayla sharing some of her design knowledge, with young girls, at a Little Bellas workshop (Photo: Specialized)

Thinking broader about bikes

Kayla has a fine arts degree from San Jose State University and started as a senior graphic designer with Specialized, back in 2015.

Cycling frames and gear aren’t easy to animate with patterns and colours. The round tubes of a frame are notoriously difficult to apply conventional graphic elements to.

Despite the challenges, Kayla has created some iconic mountain and road bike designs for Specialized pro riders. And also the Mixtape collection for customers.

"Colour, graphic design and any techniques applied to things like bike, helmet, shoe and apparel. Something even as simple as logo placement can completely change the vibe of a product."

With the surge in global cycling, Kayla’s had the opportunity to scale her creativity.

"I think the hardest, but the best part of my job is being able to lead and see change happening within cycling culture. As designers, it’s our responsibility to open the door for other riders who have not been or are not being spoken to currently."

 

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