Caroline Tomlinson

Bachelors of Industrial Design, 2011
New York, NY


What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work? I’m currently fascinated by sensory design and how engaging multiple senses through an experience (sight, sound, scent, taste) can be exponentially more immersive and create lasting impact. I’m trying to incorporate this into the experiences we create for clients to create meaningful emotional impact.

“...inspiration is everywhere and to never stop seeking it out because it’s so crucial to keeping your design thinking fresh.”

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking about design? The biggest single influence on my way of thinking about design was a boss I had during one of my co-ops during school. He taught me that inspiration is everywhere and to never stop seeking it out because it’s so crucial to keeping your design thinking fresh. He really encouraged me to inspiration in powerful ways to really push the envelope with my designs, which has been so influential in my career.

What project or design problem have you faced (in the past or recently) that seemed to be a “failure” but turned out to be an extremely valuable experience? One failure / valuable experience I had was working on a project as a co-op that was about designing pill bottles for arthritic individuals. I jumped right into design without doing any background research on the target market or existing products. Needless to say, it required a lot of back tracking and re-working, which I viewed as a failure on my part. However, it was a great lesson in the value of design, the fact that it cannot be completed in a vacuum, and the need to be open and collaborative in your work.  

While you were in school at Auburn, do you remember a specific design project that challenged you the most? When I was at Auburn, I remember always being challenged by our group design charettes. It was always a challenge to balance multiple personalities and various ways of working in a tight time constraint. However, it was a great way to figure out some of the nuances of working in teams, which has been immensely helpful now, as I work with a diverse group of designers and strategists in my current job. 

You have been working with Lippincott as a designer for several years now. It seems you have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects from design strategy to point of purchase design. What aspect of your work so far has been the most interesting or perhaps rewarding? The most interesting and rewarding aspect of working with Lippincott is constantly being pushed outside my comfort zone and asked to learn new things, particularly related to design and business strategy. Lippincott is a company that consists of both creative and business-minded individuals across multiple groups, who are constantly collaborating. I’m asked to switch between business woman and designer constantly, and try my hand at things like naming or brand strategy which means I’m always learning something new which keeps things interesting.

Do you believe that it is harder for women to become successful in the design field? In a few ways, yes I do believe it is harder for women to become successful in the design field. In particular, most women designers are often not as willing as their male counterparts to speak up for their work, often letting other people take credit or potentially impose on their ideas. This is not always the case, but I have seen it happen on multiple occasions to the dismay of women designers. There is also an old stereotype that men largely dominate the c-suite of the majority of companies, but I see this rapidly changing and believe that it will not be a hindrance to the development of women’s careers in the future (in the design field or otherwise).

Is there a difference between working in design with women or with men? Have you ever been treated differently because you are female? I feel the only difference between working in design with men and women is that which I mention above about men being more actively vocal about their work. I have not been treated differently because I am female (that I have consciously acknowledged, at least), but I believe that is because I very much see myself as an equal to the men I work with, and actively try to project that through to them. 


Are there any rules or habits that help you do your work more efficiently? Over the years, I’ve developed a number of small habits to help me work more efficiently. In particular, I make a lot of lists to figure out what I need to get done each day and try to hold myself to them. I’ve also learned to recognize when I’m getting too hung up on a problem and not making progress. When this happens, I try to take a step back and talk to a coworker in order to put some perspective on the situation or contribute new ideas.

“You need to be conscious of what differentiates you from other designers and be able to articulate that...”

Would you recommend some resources that young designers might find useful? (books, websites, podcasts, etc.) For inspiration, I follow several sites / blogs (Design Boom, Fast Company, PSFK, Spring Wise, Stylus) to try to stay up to date on the latest and greatest things happening in the design and innovation world. I also listen to podcasts like 99% invisible and TED radio hour on my commute as an easy source of daily inspiration.

What advice would you give to student designers preparing to enter into your segment of the design field today? I would tell student designers wanting to enter my segment of design to not be afraid to try it out through an internship or by shadowing a designer for a period of time. My internship experiences were very  enlightening, giving me insight into the industry and how day to day life would be in this field, and really served as a the make or break driver for a lot of decisions in my career.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in school? I wish I had known in school how important it is to have a vision for where you want to be and what your strengths and weaknesses are as a designer. Having a longer term vision and drive to get there is so important, and it’s crucial to figure out what that is early. You need to be conscious of what differentiates you from other designers and be able to articulate that, and that can really go a long way.  

Design Samples

Designer responded to questions in 2016 via email.