Meet the HARMAN Luxury Audio Team
Name: Jason Gokavi
Position/Job Title: Principal Industrial Designer
With HARMAN Since 2014
With Meet The HARMAN Luxury Team, our goal is for you to get to know us better. In each edition we feature a different member of the team, and this month it’s Jason Gokavi, Principal Industrial Designer – Luxury Audio.
How would you describe what you do in your current role?
Well, I’d say I’m being trusted with the design identity and vision for HARMAN’s crown jewel brands…again! We had started to make some headway in the past, and now owing to the BU’s remarkable performance over the past couple of years, we have the drive and resources to take things to the next level.
What did you study in school? Did you always imagine yourself doing something like what you’re doing now, or did the fates just take you in that direction?
I can start before college on this one! I studied in a British system boarding school, where I spent my final years majoring in the sciences and an actual subject called Design Technology. That exposure allowed me to skip the first year of my subsequent design college education, wherein I graduated with a Masters in Industrial Design Management, a sort of hybrid between design and, well, management! I never knew design was actually a thing, as far as a career was concerned, but I no doubt had the inkling for it right from childhood, with a passionate zeal for creating crazy stuff out of Legos.
How did your career path lead you to HARMAN?
I’ve always been an avid music fan, both listening and creating, like tons of us at HARMAN. My grand mom had bought a Sony Viao desktop computer in 2007. That system came with a pair of clip-on style on-the-ear headphones. I immediately proceeded to steal them as they sounded miles better than the non-descript foam padded VOIP style headphones I was using up to that point, and they became my listening medium for a few years. Then one fine day, during my second year of college, the left earphone died. When it came time to replace them, I decided to confer the internet…and yes, the rabbit hole took me right in, and I never recovered! I developed a love of high-quality listening (well, high by my limited experience anyway!), so I knew I would want to marry design with audio. Couple that with HARMAN just having opened a dedicated design studio in Shenzhen, and the rest is history!
What is the most important thing you have learned over your career?
I’d look at this point by way of skills and say the most important skill I have developed is to be able to approach design from a balanced, informed perspective. In the real world, there is no need for a defined design process per-say, but rather a steadfast yet agile way to handle projects. This methodology serves both short and long-term projects in equal measure.
Any other advice you would offer people just starting out in this industry?
I’d really just emphasize that a deep-rooted zeal for audio and its reproduction is most beneficial in this post! This allows you to learn and adapt much faster, leading to better, more relevant results!
What are you most proud of in your life?
I’m going to be boring and/or stereotypical here: my family; there simply is no parallel!
I am honored by the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to have lived around the world; India, Australia, China and now the U.S.; whilst enjoying travelling to many more places. My family and I are huge fans of trying out cuisines, cultures and learning about history.
When did you first realize you had a passion for music or audio?
Hmm…I can add another story in addition to the one referenced earlier in this questionnaire about my path to HARMAN. In my childhood, I was not exposed to a huge variety of music. My parents were missionary doctors, and they were stationed around remote areas of India for a majority of those impressionable years. Music exposure was hugely difficult to come by outside the limited collection of ’90s Christian music my family had. One day, I received a parcel from a late uncle who lived in Chicago. In it was an old Lenoxx Sound Discman (which would skip tracks or stop all together at the slightest bump), coupled with a tattered set of extremely basic headphones. However, there was a pearl inside the player; an Aerosmith CD: the album “Pump” (yea, a slight deviation from what I was used to!). That, at the age of eight, was my first real taste of rock. It was an epiphany. I wore that disc out.
What current technology impresses you the most?
In audio, it has to be high-fidelity streaming. It’s liberating.
What’s your favorite music genre?
Don’t have one. Honestly. I’m a communist in this regard; all genres are equal… although some are more equal than others!
The desert island question, of course. If you were marooned for eternity and could listen to only three albums, what would they be?
Steven Wilson, The Raven That Refused to Sing. (A visceral, transporting work of art. The track “Drive Home” is one of my all-time favorite pieces of composition and in part improvisation.)
Daft Punk, Random Access Memories. (Pristine production, great beats, timeless for “electronic” music.)
Kutless, Kutless.> (Christian rock; not the best in production, but for me it’s nostalgia.)
You have the floor. In closing, tell us anything else you want us to know about yourself.
Cars. I like cars. If not for a conversation I had with a car designer back in college, I would have ended up in that field. Basically, his experience placed him as one designer amongst many in a prominent company, designing pages and pages of not a whole car, but ports of it, like a few days dedicated to sketching rear view mirrors. Let alone the fact that I consider sketching my designer Achille’s heel, I wanted a platform upon which I could have fair control over an entire project, even though I know full well that experiences differ. All that to say, I am thoroughly enjoying my product design trajectory!