DE S IGN E DUCA TION QUARTERLY OF THE INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS SOCIETY OF AMERICAâ&#x20AC;&#x2021; WINTER 2019
STOP CHEWING. START DESIGNING!
Seattle, WA 2020
QUARTERLY OF THE INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS SOCIETY OF AMERICA
WINTER 2019 ®
Publisher IDSA 555 Grove St., Suite 200 Herndon, VA 20170 P: 703.707.6000 F: 703.787.8501 idsa.org/innovation
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Above: Greg Smiley, IDSA, leads a panel discussion titled “The Global Ecosystem and Design Education – The BIG Picture” at the 2019 IDSA Education Symposium in Chicago on August 21. Featured panelist were (from left to right) Efecem Kutuk, IDSA, James Rudolph, IDSA, JohnPaul Kusz, FIDSA, and Raja Schaar, IDSA.
14 Education Paper: Tolerance for Ambiguity by Paul Skaggs, IDSA 19 IDSA Education Honors 22 Scholarship Recipients 24 SQ1 Goes Big in San Francisco by Caterina Rizzoni, IDSA 26 A Peek Inside the Huge Design Internship Program by Bill Webb, IDSA 70 Empty Bowls: Teaching Students Leadership, Empathy and Social Responsibility by Manisha Sharma 72 IDSA’s In-Situ Laboratory Workshops 74 Life as a Fox: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Design Education by Louise R Manfredi, PhD
2019 STUDENT MERIT AWARDS 30 Central District SMA Winner
IDSA AMBASSADORS 3M Design, St. Paul, MN Cesaroni Design Associates Inc., Glenview, IL; Santa Barbara, CA
32 Midwest District SMA Winner
Covestro, Pittsburgh, PA
34 Midwest District GSMA Winner
Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, TN
36 Northeast District SMA Winner
Metaphase Design Group Inc., St. Louis, MO
38 Northeast District GSMA Winner
TEAGUE, Seattle, WA
40 South District SMA Winner
Crown Equipment, New Bremen, OH McAndrews, Held & Malloy, Ltd., Chicago, IL Samsung Design America, San Francisco, CA THRIVE, Atlanta, GA Tupperware, Orlando, FL
42 South District GSMA Winner
Charter supporters indicated in bold.
44 West District SMA Winner
an Ambassador, please contact IDSA at
46 West District GSMA Winner
For more information about becoming 703.707.6000.
48 SMA Finalists 68 SMA Judges
IN EVERY ISSUE
IDSA HQ by Chris Livaudais, IDSA
6 Beautility by Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA 8 Design Defined by Diego Almaraz, S/IDSA
10 Design DNA by Scott Henderson, IDSA
DE S I G N E DUC TION QUARTERLY OF THE INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS SOCIETY OF AMERICA WINTER 2019
DESIGN EDUCATION WINTER 2019
Innovation is the quarterly journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the professional organization serving the needs of US industrial designers. Reproduction in whole or in part—in any form—without the written permission of the publisher is prohibited. The opinions expressed in the bylined articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of IDSA. IDSA reserves the right to decline any advertisement that is contrary to the mission, goals and guiding principles of the Society. The appearance of an ad does not constitute an endorsement by IDSA. All design and photo credits are listed as provided by the submitter. Innovation is printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. The use of IDSA and FIDSA after a name is a registered collective membership mark. Innovation (ISSN No. 0731-2334 and USPS No. 0016-067) is published quarterly by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)/Innovation, 555 Grove St., Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170. Periodical postage at Sterling, VA 20164 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to IDSA/Innovation, 555 Grove St., Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170, USA. ©2019 Industrial Designers Society of America. Vol. 39, No. 4, 2019; Library of Congress Catalog No. 82640971; ISSN No. 0731-2334; USPS 0016-067.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
OUR MISSION TO DELIVER EQUITABLE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES Access to educational opportunities can have a profound impact on oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to succeed in life. The reality is, however, that access is not universal and a myriad of factors such as social class, gender, ethnicity, disabilities, funding and infrastructure can impact access to educational resources and deeply complicate the path toward achieving positive outcomes. This is a massive challenge and a topic way too intricate for this setting. However, within our domain and with education as one of IDSAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s core functional pillars, it is vital that we work to provide equal access to learning opportunities to both our membership and our community at large.
In years past, associations like ours used to be a gateway to information about a particular subject. If you wanted to know about industrial design, from design firm listings to membership directories and industry reports, we were the go-to resource. In fact, INNOVATION, for example, was one of only magazines in the world focused on industrial design when it was first published in 1982. Similarly, our conferences and events used to be the singular in-person gathering point for industrial designers across the United States. But much has changed since the founding of our organization in 1965. Nearly every program IDSA used to produce in relative isolation now has rivaling properties calling out for your time and attention. How is IDSA approaching this reality? How does IDSA deliver equitable educational value? The first step was understanding (and accepting) the landscape we currently operate in. From there, we’ve set ourselves down a path toward success with a few key factors acting as our north star. We are a trusted resource. We acknowledge that there are many places and services available to learn about industrial design or to find a quick hit of inspiration. Thanks to the internet and social media, much of this information is now ubiquitous and easily accessible for anyone with a connection. It’s IDSA’s mission to protect space for industrial design within this crowded landscape and amplify the voice of industrial designers within the larger design ecosystem. All this while celebrating the cross-functional overlap of many creative fields and the need for open dialog between a revolving cast of stakeholders. Within this setting, we aim to present consistent, relevant, accurate and thoughtful content that creates the guideposts for foundational learning and ongoing industrial design professional development. Where does this information come from? You, of course. You are the subject matter expert. Just as in the early years of our organization, we’re working today to build a platform that collects and centralizes one of our most valuable resources: you. You are at the forefront of our profession and you are actively driving its evolution. So it only makes sense that the content at our events, on our website, in print or on social media is a pulled directly from the
collective knowledge base of our membership community. IDSA’s media reach now spans multiple networks and channels and continues to expand every day. Having access to broadcast your message on IDSA’s platform becomes a unique benefit of membership. This information exchange, in turn, helps us provide meaningful growth opportunities for the entire duration of your career. Speaking of which … Supporting students through legacy. IDSA is an association of and for professionals. We invite industrial designers at all stages of their career (student through legacy) to participate and contribute to our community. This means that we need to deliver different content to different people across the entire arc of a career. In practice, this becomes quite challenging because vastly different resources are needed for a recent graduate versus a seasoned designer versus a veteran studio owner or the head of a global design team. This content matrix becomes even more nuanced when the multitude of industry specializations is factored in. On the flip side, the beauty of this complexity means that we can become an expansive wellspring of inspiration and learning because we are pulling from so many different subject-matter sources who are themselves working professionals. How is IDSA HQ managing all this and returning a meaningful membership experience? In short, by keeping our focus and centering on the points above. We are at the same time curators and broadcasters of information. This is how we advocate for the profession and simultaneously educate overlapping generations of designers. One’s career is a journey, and so too is education. Our work is aimed at providing open access to information across a variety of touchpoints, which allows our community to engage in ways that are most convenient for them. The quality of our content is strengthened by elevating the voices of our community and celebrating divergent backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. —Chris Livaudais, IDSA, Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
BE A U T I L I T Y
WHAT MAKES A GOOD DESIGN?
hope you’ve seen the latest season of Abstract: The Art of Design on Netflix. One episode is about Cas Holman, called “Design for Play”; another, “Digital Product Design,” is about Ian Spalter. Holman is an industrial designer and professor at RISD; Spalter, Instagram’s head of design at the time of filming, has a background in multimedia design and cultural studies. Remember when no one knew what industrial designers did? Well now that everyone is a product designer, people still are confused about what we are called and what makes a good design. On the most basic level, everyone’s a designer. The act of design is just making a conscious decision, thinking ahead and hopefully making good choices. What’s the opposite of design? Not caring, doing nothing or causing accidents—not necessarily intentional, just not thinking. Making bad choices is the antithesis of good design. Bad design is doing things that hurt people or make the world ugly and unhealthy. Design is at least trying. Good design pushes up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for love and beauty. Midcentury modern design is a style with a social imperative. The thrust of modern design was to make forms cleaner and designs more transparent, understandable and harmonious with the environment—fair social systems, following rules, and supportive and inclusive. Design is an activity that applies to both objects and society. Born of necessity in the ’30s, our new profession addressed industry’s requirement for attractive, functional and manufacturable designs. With user-centered empathy and holistic talent, industrial designers merged all these requirements to create better things. Bill Moggridge, director of the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and co-founder of IDEO, saw back in the ’90s that those industrial design capabilities applied to the new world of digital technology, and he coined the term “interaction design.” His book Designing Interactions tells stories of pioneering interaction designers using our process to wrestle virtual tasks into good experiences. The UI, UX, usability, etc. of a hammer or banking product are all essentially industrial design. As Razorfish’s Chief Scientist Craig Kanarick says, “A button is a button whether it’s real or on a screen.” When I joined Razorfish back in the ’90s
to build an industrial design capability, we had a hard time finding a name that distinguished between the firm’s digital products and my physical ones! What we call product design is one thing, but I never thought I’d be faced with the question of why is good design good?! It’s not just an academic dispute. In the April 3, 2019, New Yorker, Nikil Saval reviewed MoMA’s exhibition How “Good Design” Failed Us, writing, “The show looks back at the museum’s attempt to establish canons of taste … it makes one wonder about both the meaning of those terms and what they are meant to do.” Can good aesthetics be defined? How much does the meaning evolve over time? Aesthetics are not dogmatic. Although all designers pursue innovation and a cuttingedge look, new hemline or chic color may be popular, we imagine industrial design’s originality to be more substantial. The distinction doesn’t really matter, because I try to make spinach into candy. To use pleasing designs to seduce customers and users for their own good, making stuff that’s good for us into things we want and things that encourage good behavior—“creating a happy way of living,” as William Lee, head of Nio, the Chinese electric car company, was quoted in the New York Times as saying. So what if it results from styling? It’s not that hard to define what makes a good design. I know beauty is subjective and relative, but if we can’t decide what makes good design good, who can? The economic lens doesn’t help because beauty is not a luxury; it’s a tool. Beauty is rare—it’s hard to do—so it should be valuable! People are attracted to beautiful things. It’s magic. We treat beautiful things better; they make us feel good and behave well. A beautiful bike is more desirable to ride than a crappy car. How things look matters. Research shows that red placebos work faster than plain ones! Function is not invisible. Banking products need good design to attract customers. “Beautility” is a word that highlights the utility of aesthetics. The word reminds diehard pragmatists and bean counters to count the value of how things look. Beautility is a bottom-line factor and a top-line aspiration. As Pratt professor Rowena Reed Kostellow, FIDSA, said, “If you
can’t make it more beautiful, what’s the point?” Back in the olden days, adding art was a formula for improving the beauty of things. But then architect Adolf Loos declared decoration a crime, and a few decades later industrial designers arrived, addressing multidisciplinary requirements of new toasters and locomotives with more than lipstick or icing on a cake. Form and function was a simple rule. Today design is a complex constellation of ideas, functions, symbols, performance, motivation, ecology, energy, politics, reputation, healthcare and especially legal liabilities! Interactive experiences and virtual things like Facetime, TikTok and money have become more important than real things. In the multiverse, truth is not concrete. Media is the message. What something looks like is not what it is as much as what it says. Beauty is only skin deep. “The concerns of today’s designers, therefore, are the relationships and conversations that design makes possible. … In other words, today’s design is all about experience,” according to Visual Communication Design: An Introduction to Design Concepts in Everyday Experience by Jamer Hunt, vice provost for transdisciplinary initiatives at The New School, and Meredith Davis, professor emerita of graphic design at NC State University. Narrative is king today. Knowledge workers create lots of design thinking. Stories created in Hollywood, on Facebook or on Madison Avenue weave aspirations with speculative ideas into a yarns. Because stories are selfcontained, they make more sense, spinning biases and evidence to support the narrative. The TED talk formula works: First connect with a very emotional personal failure, lay out some seemingly insurmountable challenge and turn the problem around with an ah-ha solution that now seems so obvious. Are stories better for us than real experiences? Author and activist Susan Sontag once wrote, “To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world—in order to set up a shadow world of ‘meanings.’” In the chapter titled “Meanings” in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, the historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari says, “Life is not a story.” In “Why Designers Should Declare Death to the Post-it” (FastCompany, May 2010), Jamer Hunt wrote, “Designers
themselves are producing increasingly immaterial–and un-pictureable–things. Whereas designers used to make buildings and interiors and posters and toasters, they now are just as likely to be designing services, systems, platforms, and protocols. … ideation without materialization is not design.” Evidence—not stories or fake news—is necessary to verify, if not to prove things. “We practice what we call ‘thoughtful design,’” says Ivy Ross, vice president of hardware design and user experience at Google, in a video for Surface. “First you see it … then you hold it, how does it feel? And then how does it function. … We have to be reminded of our craft, that our hands are incredible tools.” What’s more essential to what designers do? What’s a bigger challenge than good design? As I look at what we are teaching students and the criteria we use to award design excellence, I see that physical results are slipping down the ladder of significance. With the booming design thinking industry, who’s doing the design doing? Students don’t start projects by sketching concepts anymore—they just think up ideas and develop them using hypothetical scenarios staged with imaginary users. They finally start using their hands to design their thing near the end after doing a problem analysis, identifying supposed market gaps and recycling possibilities—squeezing 3D prints into the final step attempting to make a better-looking form. Function without form is elusive. A good story is a shortcut to emotional connection. While TED talks have become formulaic, the speakers, like our designs, actually do things. Function follows form. Prime Minister Winston Churchill told Parliament after the House of Commons was destroyed by Nazi bombs that they had to rebuild and that the form was critical: “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Faced now with the climate emergency, our things are shaping us in bad ways. As hospitality maestro Ian Schrager reminds us, “Every detail is a matter of life and death.” Beautility has gravity—especially today! —Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA www.tuckerviemeister.com
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
D E S I G N DE F I NE D
TIPS FOR BUILDING YOUR DESIGN NETWORK AS A STUDENT
ndustrial design is a unique field to study. There are no traditional tests, lengthy lectures or clearly defined objective assignments. So it is an attractive option for many people coming out of high school, transferring between colleges or returning to school, especially for those who like to work creatively and want to make an impact in the world of design. Once they join a design program, unless they know people who work in ID or who studied it, they truly do not know what lies ahead. Pretty soon you start to learn about having a portfolio and how it has to be at a high level in order to compete with other students. But one thing is just as important yet is not advertised and emphasized in design school: networking. Who do you know in the design field? Unless you or a classmate already knows a design professional, it can be really difficult to connect to one. We live in a time when employers are asking for more levels of experience for juniorlevel positions, making it hard to find an internship, let alone a job. You need to ask yourself, “How can I stand out from students at other ID programs in the country?” Of course, your portfolio does some talking, but you will have a greater chance at getting an internship or job if the person reviewing your portfolio knows you. With programs and organizations such as IDSA, students have an opportunity to speak with design professionals. But how can you leverage these opportunities to connect with designers? Throughout my experience as president of the San Jose State IDSA Student Chapter, I have learned one major thing about networking: It is an active pursuit. Whether it is reaching out to and visiting design firms and companies or participating in regional events, putting yourself out there and meeting people is really important. Don’t be
discouraged if right off the bat you are unable to visit a high-profile company like Google or make a connection with someone at a firm like IDEO. They are busy places, so don’t take the lack of a response as a rejection. Sometimes it is easy for your email to get lost in a pile of unread emails. All you need to do is bump it to the top by sending a follow-up. But you can only do that once. After that you need to find another person to contact, or even try calling. It is important to understand that building a network as a student is a marathon as opposed to a 100-meter sprint. Prior to my third year, I had no network. I did not know anyone outside the ID program. I began to build my network at the SF Design Week Studio Crawl. I visited several firms during the event, but it was not until the last stop, Huge Design, that my network sprouted. There I met two people, Tom Keegan from Tact Product Development and Chris Harsacky from Huge, who would end up connecting me with many other professionals and helping me build the confidence to speak to them. Both had welcoming personalities, so it was easy to make a strong connection. From these first contacts, the IDSA student chapter leadership and I were able to create events for our chapter for the first semester. On top of that, with an active regional IDSA professional chapter, the student chapter was able to attend an annual dodgeball tournament consisting of 20 or so design firms. Being the only university in the tournament gave us an opportunity to speak to anyone from 20 different Bay Area firms. The continuous push of reaching out to people led to us getting more and more opportunities to meet more people. But it is still up to you to make the effort to approach people. I am an introvert, but meeting people like Keegan
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e e t i ng m r e t e 3. Af ke sur a m , e someo n ct with them ne em ai l r to co n o n I ked ow via Lin hem k n t t e l r and te thei a i c e r p n t ac t o y o u ap c y a nd m time a future. e h t n them i e sure k a m n e And th ouch. t n i y to s ta and Harsacky can change your perspective, making you realize that designers are not as scary and intimidating as we portray them to be when we are in school. I have learned that saying hi, giving them my name and letting them know I am a student is all you need to get the conversation started. I also mention the school I’m at. That is key because they could be an alumnus, which gives you a shared connection from the start and plenty of topics to fuel the conversation. Also, I always have a question to ask, something that shows I am interested in them and their work. From there I look for a passion we might both share, like sports or gaming, which gives us something to talk about and starts to build a rapport. Keep in mind that you develop a closer relationship when you meet them the second time around. It definitely
takes time to build deeper relationships. It is this extra effort to maintain and strengthen your connections apart from going to the events that makes the difference. Something Keegan taught me is after making a new connection to always follow up with an email later in the day or the next day to say “thank you” and “great meeting you.” That can go a long way, and it builds a stronger connection with the person. The people you form strong connections with become the people you turn to for help and in the long run turn into mentors who help build you up. —Diego Almaraz, S/IDSA, Student, San Jose State University, and President, IDSA SJSU Student Chapter email@example.com
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
“Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing-holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as
he line is long at the grand Louvre in Paris. The half-mile human serpentine extends well beyond the reception hall, up and over the exquisite spiral staircase, breaking free of I. M. Pei’s iconic glass pyramid, and finally into the cold Parisian rain. How wonderful that art alone can command such a pilgrimage—a struggle against the tides of tourism, a sacrifice of freedom while inching closer to the artifacts of creative genius. Uplifting is it to know that in the all-encompassing digital age art can still draw crowds at a more consistent rate than a Led Zeppelin reunion tour. Could it be that this colossal throng of art enthusiasts is not what it appears to be? Instead of waiting laboriously like sheep on an industrial farm for the chance to appreciate the thousands of artifacts that have shaped our understanding of culture, they are waiting to see only one: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Like an abruptly snatched needle from the spinning vinyl record, we realize that this long line has nothing to do with the appreciation of art and everything to do with its slowly moving members establishing their status, selfworth and ability to get near a historical icon—traversing the entire selfie-taking globe to do so—and all for a digital like. Welcome to the look-at-me culture. To quote H. L. Mencken, “We are here and it is now.” The Instagram Distraction Much like the hidden reasons behind the long line at the Louvre, design in the Instagram world is a fascinating place wrought with all kinds of statements about the human psyche and our basic need for approval. In the old days, designers would suffer an astonishingly long gestation period before seeing the fruits of their labor enter the public domain. For our once-a-year status check on design’s big picture, we would wait in suspense until I.D. Magazine’s Annual Design Review or IDSA’s Yearbook of IDEA winners was hand delivered by a uniformed government employee to our welded steel mailbox. Today, some of the most beautiful and expertly rendered examples of design flood our social media feeds like a virtual Niagara Falls of creativity—and are gone again with the flick of a thumb. The concerns about
not prematurely exposing sensitive intellectual property are as important as ever—and in a lot of cases keep real design projects under wraps for the same long cycles as they always have. How then can Instagram be awash with so much inspiring new content at prime posting hours each and every day? The astonishing answer is that these laboredover 3D CAD digital renderings and sketches, which embody countless tidbits of valuable intellectual property, are specifically created for Instagram itself for the purpose of growing a following and getting likes. As with the line at the Louvre, our capacity to innovate has been channeled toward exposure and attention gathering, a calling so powerful and basic to the human psyche that the bar that measures design-for-Instagram’s quality standards continues to rise and the lengths we are willing to go in order to achieve them stretches ever farther. We’ll do whatever it takes, including avoiding our real design projects—even if it means ideating, sketching, meticulously 3D CAD modeling and electronically rendering for a single solitary post. Hugely followed Instagram accounts like @renderweekly and @weeklydesignchallenge invite the world’s best to demonstrate their design skills with a simple prompt like “This week design a stapler.” Fascinating is the notion that if you could draw anything in the world unbound by client criteria, and you are doing this all for free anyway, you would choose to draw a stapler in the same way SpongeBob’s friend Patrick the starfish chose to ride the mechanical horse in his wildest dream sequence. The proprietary nuances that thrive in this world are also fascinating—the fashion behind the design image, the underground secret language of digital rendering. For only those in the know, isometric views mark you as woke. Presenting the object in a state unnatural to the human eye is to say you are part of the new design elite. Exaggerated perspective for dramatic effect is as yesterday as the magic marker vignette. An object shown at a reduced size disproportionate to its large white background—something your photography teacher would scorn you for—is a cuttingedge symbol in the cult-nuevo of industrial design—invisible and encrypted to anyone else. The negative effects of this phenomenon are profound.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
D E S I G N DNA
We now read a thousand renderings as one, numb to their sheer multitude, classifying countless small breakthroughs and brilliant product details into a single bucket of sameness. The time spend here in the virtual world is time that could be spend in the actual world creating products that will benefit humanity. Instead, it seems this Instagram time is being spent, at best, to passively prospect for new business, waiting for your stapler to be seen by the right set of eyes (and at its worst, it’s time figuratively spent on the look-atme line at the Louvre). The strategy of passive promotion works well in the fine art world, but in the world of product design, success hinges on being first to market with unique and ownable intellectual property. Unlike the fine art world on Instagram, design-for-Instagram is also a secret language spoken not to the greater population but one that is directed inward toward itself—with the most popular design-centric pages focusing on sketching and process—and not the market success of the end result or its benefit to humanity. The lone glamour shot is sleep inducing; the sketch demo— fireworks. Yet, all of this inspiring work is there not to be real, not to be built, not to be mass-produced—but to be liked. Aside from the intensely time-consuming pursuit of never-to-be-real designs in a virtual world solely for the approval of our peers, there are positives to the designfor-Instagram phenomenon. Rendering technologies and techniques are advancing faster than a toupee in a hurricane. Sketches reminiscent of those created by da Vinci himself were drawn with a finger on an iPhone while riding the subway, and many powerful new apps have been developed to enable this. Instagram also acts as a great platform for the designer to be self-referential. To see your work through others’ eyes is to learn from the greater community. What you thought was an impactful, influential and groundbreaking sketch, concept or full-fledged realized mass-produced product gets a meager 24 likes, providing a glimmer of authentic consumer feedback. It’s not your command over the dark magic of social media that is to blame for your feeble following. It’s not that you neglected to maximize your 30 allotted hashtags and forgot to post at precisely 3 a.m. It’s that your content is not all that great. This feedback, however painful, is also quite valuable. Lamps, Chairs, Sofas and Bowls The amazing inspiration on your Instagram feed proves that some aspects of design are now more available and accessible that ever, while others are shrouded in deep mystery and an encrypted language so thick it seems designers are intentionally hiding what they do from the world. From our product road maps, localization skills, thought leadership, story points, process framework, deep
empathy, storytelling and breadcrumbs trails, the world of actual design has turned inward as well, creating an elite society of geniuses. This society is also a secret one, because the reality is that good design in the hearts and minds of regular folks, design writers and editors, museum curators—even many of the world’s best designers themselves—is defined by four products: lamps, chairs, sofas and bowls. The design industry shrugs off this lack of broader awareness to our toils, content with the idea that the greater population still thinks industrial design means designing factories and the term UX is a form of programming code. We’re content with our self-congratulatory closed loop, speaking inwardly to ourselves, glorifying process over results, just like the virtual design efforts on Instagram. Where was I when field interviews became contextual inquires? Did we really rename the client meeting a frontstage in order to teach others how to design in the now extremely complex digital realm or to prove our value—to say “Look at me!” to the greater world by talking about a process that only a chosen few have the aptitude to address? “Don’t fall in love with your sketches!” was the familiar cry back when I was in design school, a stern warning not to focus on methods but instead to keep the bigger goal of innovation in mind, to see the forest through the trees. Now the design industry struggles to discuss anything except its lofty process, and as a result, the rest of the world has no choice but to still think of design in the light of the Arts and Crafts movement and the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century where the earliest manifestations of professional design centered on tea sets. There’s a sneaky danger lurking, though, and one these multilingual design practitioners least expect, and it’s coming home to roost. The Ivory Swivel Chair My first real design job was in a studio that owned just two computer workstations: Silicon Graphics Octanes that cost $38,000 each. Yes, $38K for one single computer, not to mention about the same for the software that ran on it. These machines had a powerful name and starkly contrasted against the word-processing beige boxes with their swoopy purple and black housings. To even start these machines, you had to launch what was known as a Unix shell and carefully enter in a string of code—a secret language—known as a shell prompt. This was flat out beyond the patience and free-flowing minds of the typical industrial or graphic designer of the day. The ones who embraced this realm, known as “CAD jockeys,” had carved out an elite niche in the studio. Their minds must have had extra genes the rest of us lacked. We
needed their powerful brains as they sat in their ivory swivel chairs—happily cut off from the rest of the studio—drinking coffee and representing the future. Almost overnight, though, this footnote in design history vanished as PCs doubled and tripled their speed, abilities and friendliness. Suddenly, the specialized guru was abruptly gone—the void filling as quickly as the one left after removing your finger from a bowl of water. With these tedious speed bumps eliminated, designers got right back to delivering on their core asset of critical thinking (defined as having the ability to form independent conclusions based on the same data everyone else is seeing) like nothing ever happened! The designer resumed using the studio’s tools like they were invisible extensions of their hands rather than platforms of intellect requiring a special glossary. Malcolm Gladwell, the acclaimed nonfiction writer and author of The Tipping Point, says in his new MasterClass course on writing that “your first goal as a writer is to be pure and simple, to write at an eighth grade level, but with ideas that are super sophisticated.” This resonates well because design has always been about making the complex simple, easy and even fun. If you have achieved the last goal of fun, you have almost certainly satisfied the first two. The earmark of great design used to be that it didn’t need to come with an instruction manual. Are these new chosen few, with their ability to understand a self-created mysterious language, today’s UX jockeys in their now more ergonomic ivory swivel chairs, self-elevated from the fray of yesterday’s design? As we saw in the mid-’90s, however, with the death of the Unix workstation and the fading away of the jockeys that rode them, once the complex hurdles requiring specialized skills are cleared away, design achieves its critical mass and amazing breakthroughs occur. The same way we now look at a thousand Instagram renderings as one, similar effects are happening within UX and UI. With our templates and grids that make designing in the digital world easier for more people, an eye-glazing similarity is washing over this output as well. In fact, if a user interface today has too much unique design dancing and zooming around on the screen, it looks old. To be basic is to be current, and to be current is to be “basic.” Critical thinking—often touted as the last bastion of value—is the ability to form a unique perspective, yet in design, much of today’s proprietary secret language actually discourages critical thinking, contributing to its newly pervasive similitude. When studying a design problem, it is made clear that you must check any preconceived notions at the door, much like the trial lawyer’s instructions during jury selection. As an iron-clad absolute, we are told that we are not designing for ourselves—that our personal opinions
To be basic is to be current, and to be current is to be “basic.” are irrelevant! Critical thinking, however, is also partially defined as self-directed, self-disciplined and self-monitored, which is where its real value lies because the buck must stop somewhere. At some point, someone must see order where others see only chaos, and then be brave enough to lead. Yet design’s current manifestations in both the virtual and actual world are increasingly the result of widely glorified, inwardly discussed empirical processes, grids, templates and techniques. Despite the warning of yesteryear, we have incessantly trumpeted process over results and have fallen in love with the sketch! The line at the Louvre is an unintended consequence of design in the digital age, but a brilliant example of how advanced technologies take root most successfully when they address the simplest of human needs. Design will soon repeat the cycle of resetting itself against yesterday’s technological state of the art—once again advancing at the quantum speeds only possible when complex processes are no longer the barrier. The language describing this future will be as simple as an eighth grade textbook, and the passerby on the street will not be excluded from understanding it. Like the great nonfiction writer, the designer will deliver value by decoding the encrypted world rather than complicating it further and will do so by having the ability to form a point of view and wielding the last great differentiator known as critical thinking. —Scott Henderson, IDSA firstname.lastname@example.org
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TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY
he author had a couple of experiences with industrial design students and alumni early in his educational career. The first was a conversation with a graduate of a well-respected university’s industrial design program. This individual had graduated 10 years previous to the encounter with a degree in industrial design. In a conversation about the profession, they indicated that they were not working as an industrial designer and explained that their education had not prepared them for the real world of industrial design. They said that after graduation they were hired by General Electric and were given an entry-level project. They admitted they didn’t know where to start. It was not presented like their school design program projects, and it did not follow the process they had been taught and had practiced in school. They struggled with the project, and other group dynamics, and became more and more frustrated. After six months they quit the job and had not worked as an industrial designer since. In another conversation with this same person a few weeks later, they told me they were interested in teaching industrial design. They said sarcastically, “I would give them ‘real world’ experience. I would assign the students a project on Friday, and on Monday I would change it, cut the budget or cancel the project.” A professor of the industrial design program at the aforementioned university said that the student had very good skills and was creative. They had a portfolio good enough to secure a good design job (Skaggs, 2002). What went wrong? The other experience was with an industrial design
student found crying at their desk. “I don’t think I can do this,” they proclaimed. The curriculum, like at many schools, teaches fundamental skills in the sophomore year, and students experience the design process in their junior year. This student had learned all the skills but now was finding it hard to apply those skills appropriately to a more complex design project. What went wrong? It wasn’t their training that had gone wrong. It was the ability to deal with the subtle complexities of the world of industrial design. They had the skills, knowledge and methodologies but lacked fundamental personality characteristics vital to practice design. In his book Conceptual Blockbusting, James L. Adams says, “The fear of making a mistake is, of course, rooted in insecurity, which most people suffer from to some extent. Such insecurities are also responsible for the next emotional block, the ‘Inability to tolerate ambiguity ... an overriding desire for order; and [having] no appetite for chaos.’ I am not suggesting that in order to be creative you should shun order and live in a totally chaotic situation. I am talking more of an excessive fondness for order in all things” (1986, p. 45). These students’ experiences with design highlighted a problem they were unaware of, something beyond their skills, knowledge and methodologies. Industrial designers work at the fuzzy end of product development where many factors are undefined and can change rapidly and where there is uncertainty and unfamiliar spaces. A designer must be able and willing to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty (Gelb, 1998, p. 163). Tolerance for ambiguity
suggests a certain lack of rigidity in thought processes that would be important to an industrial designer. Tolerance for Ambiguity Tolerance for ambiguity is the ability to perceive uncertainties, contradictory issues that may be difficult to understand, as well as information with vague, contrary or multiple meanings in a neutral and open way (McLain et al., 2015). Bochner (1965) categorized attributes of individuals who are intolerant of ambiguity. The nine primary characteristics describe intolerance of ambiguity and are as follows: (1) need for categorization, (2) need for certainty, (3) inability to allow good and bad traits to exist in the same person, (4) acceptance of attitude statements representing a whiteblack view of life, (5) preference for familiar over unfamiliar, (6) rejection of the unusual or different, (7) resistance to a reversal of fluctuating stimuli, (8) early selection and maintenance of one solution, and (9) premature closure. The author has edited these attributes that describe an intolerance for ambiguity to attributes that describe a tolerance for ambiguity because this is the attribute we are looking for in industrial designers. It is recognized that these are not perfect interpretations but are close enough for our consideration. They are as follows: 1. Not bound by categorization 2. Comfortable with uncertainty 3. A low fear response to the unfamiliar or change 4. Acceptance of novelty 5. Tolerance for fluctuating stimuli 6. Delay selection from multiple solutions
An in-depth discussion of these characteristics is beyond the scope or interest of this paper. Each attribute is defined and its connection to the practice of industrial design is discussed below. Not bound by categorization. Categorization is the method of recognizing similarities and differences in ideas or objects and grouping these based on a criterion for a specific purpose (Cohen & Lefebvre, 2005). The purpose of a category is to illustrate a relationship between the ideas or objects in whatever the purpose of the categories may be. A problem arises once an idea or object has been set in a certain category, making it hard to break out of that classification. This is called functional fixedness (Duncker, 1945), which is the inability to see the possibilities and usefulness of ideas or objects beyond their accepted grouping. As knowledge about the world is constructed, ideas and things are categorized and meaning is applied. To play with these categories and meanings means exploration, experimentation and use of imagination. It is being able to move something from one domain into another. This is a part of what industrial designers do as they develop new ideas. Designers need to be open to experience ideas and objects from a fresh perspective and not be fixed in terms of how things are categorized. Comfortable with uncertainty. Uncertainty refers to situations involving imperfect, incomplete or unknown information (Fields, 2011). Uncertainty impacts productivity because it makes decisions very difficult. A lack of decisions slows or stops progress. To move forward with uncertainty,
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decisions need to be made. These important decisions can be made using intuition. According to Agor (1986, pp. 39–41), intuition is not a guess; good intuitive decisions are based in part on “input from facts and experiences, combined and integrated with a well-honed sensitivity and openness to other clues.” Making decisions based on intuition requires a certain level of tolerance for ambiguity. Designers are distinguished by a “high tolerance for ambiguity and intuitive decision-making skill” (Gelb, 1998, p.163). Intuitive decision-making is the ability to recognize, evaluate and pursue interesting ideas and insights. This kind of intuition is a form of judgment, or the “evaluative component,” as Runco (1991) calls it. Experience with an intuitive process allows the designer certain confidence in their intuitive judgments. Intuition allows a designer to make decisions when there is a high level of uncertainty or little precedent, when variables are not predictable, when facts and time are limited, when facts do not make the way clear and when it is necessary to choose from several plausible ideas. Designers handle uncertainty by making intuitive decisions, which allow the ideas to move forward. All of these situations are part of an industrial designer’s daily routine. Designers “trust their feelings, their unconscious thoughts, in addition to their conscious, deliberate, step-by-step, systematic thinking. They can wait until a solution arrives which feels right and is logically right. They rely on their unconscious mind to help select the final solution to the problem” (Olson, 1978, p. 45). A low fear response to the unfamiliar or change. A model for adapting to the unfamiliar is defined as a process that includes four stages: 1) Status quo is the initial state of the system—comfort, familiarity, established patterns, relationships and routines prevail; (2) An unfamiliar element enters or arises and interferes with the status quo; 3) Chaos occurs—once the unfamiliar element is recognized and accepted, the system enters chaos, a time of anxiety, vulnerability and confusion; and (4) Integration happens—a transforming idea emerges and people figure out how to integrate the unfamiliar and change how to work with the new situation (Brenner & Darby, 2000). If you are not a problem-solver, then change is always frustrating. People don’t like the unfamiliar because it brings up problems, and people don’t like dealing with problems. Peter Drucker (2002, p. 73) says, “The talk you hear about adapting to change is not only stupid, but it’s also dangerous. The only way you can manage change is to create it.” Odiorne (1981, p. 84) describes this in his book The Change Resisters. He observes that “the innovativeminded person has a different set [of arguments] from the stability-minded one. For one thing, being innovationminded starts one off with the presumption that as one presses ahead into new things, the unforeseen problem will occur, but can be solved. The innovative person will move
into new areas without full knowledge of the problems or how they might be solved.” Designers are in the business of dealing with the unfamiliar. Not only do they not resist change, they are the instigators of change. Designers seem to have a natural desire to change things—to make things easier, better or sometimes just different. They have visions of what things could be. They conjure up scenarios of the future. The designer is not resistant to change because they know that change brings new problems, and designers like to solve problems. The design process leads to uncharted territory. To pursue what we do not already know, it is necessary to have a sense of wonder, the patience to suspend judgment and a tolerance for ambiguity. In accepting ambiguity, unfortunately, we lose the comfort of familiarity. Dealing only with the clearly defined and the familiar, however, precludes the plasticity and adaptability of thought necessary in any creative endeavor. Tolerating ambiguity allows one to accept uncertainty, disorder and the paradoxical in the process of ordering one’s thoughts. Acceptance of novelty. The very essence of creativity in ideas, products or services is their originality; they’re different, and hence there is not a standard by which to judge them (Rogers, 1961). Einstein (2010, p. 480) said, “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” If ideas that are absurd, unusual or different are neglected, potential prompts to great ideas will be missed. Creative thinking and safe thinking are opposites; dealing with the risks of the unusual and different is an integral part of coming up with new ideas. This is something that Einstein is famous for understanding. If we define creativity as the generation of novel and useful ideas, both aspects of the definition are constraints that must be considered, balanced and satisfied. The narrow target of creative ideas will be missed if one is overly practical or overly imaginative. Industrial designers are tasked with developing original and useful ideas for the clients they work for. Raymond Loewy used a principle to define this balance called “MAYA”: “Most Advanced Yet Acceptable” (1951). New ideas are always received with skepticism and reluctance because they have nothing to relate to. Tolerance for fluctuating stimuli. Stimuli in this case can include multiple priorities, changing schedules and budgets, and changing product requirements. Tolerance for ambiguity refers to the capacity to withstand the fluctuations and chaos brought on by a problem that cannot be clearly defined or when it is unclear how the pieces of the solution are going to come together because the criteria are changing. A designer’s work requires working with unclear and changing requirements. These fluctuating stimuli are often
out of the designer’s control and change based on the corporation or clients changing their understanding of the needs of the new product or service the designer is asked to work on. A Microsoft Corporation job posting for an industrial design intern lists under the desired skills the ability to work through ambiguity and multiple priorities. Zack Bennett (personal communication, February, 27, 2019), a designer at Fahrenheit Design in Austin, TX, said, “In the work world of industrial design, schedules are shifting, budgets expand and contract, and product requirements change. Designers have to work with changing parameters.” At Fahrenheit they have a traffic light in the conference room with all three lights lite as a reminder of the importance of embracing ambiguity. Delay selection from multiple solutions. According to Sternberg (1983, p. 5),“Some people believe that there is only one right answer and that ambiguity must be avoided whenever possible.” To optimize creative potential you need to be able to tolerate the discomfort of an ambiguous situation long enough so that what you produce is the best, or close to the best, of which you are capable. Linus Pauling (Crick, 1996) stated that “the best way to have a good idea is to have lots to choose from.” Fluency is an important aspect of creativity (Torrance, 1974) because the number of ideas increases the opportunities for originality and usefulness. In idea generation, obvious ideas are generated first, and when these are exhausted, more remote connections, more creative ideas, are found (Mendelsohn, 1976). There is a strong correlation between the quality of ideas and the quantity of ideas (Johansson, 2004, p. 91; Bayles & Orland, 1993). Designers like to explore lots of ideas and so have a willingness to defer judgment and seek alternative ideas, solutions or conclusions. This is called resistance to closure and requires a tolerance for ambiguity. Organizations and Tolerance for Ambiguity It is human nature for people to become comfortable with certain ways of doing things over time and to resist change from their familiar patterns. Organizations also develop systems, processes and procedures, causing them to become less flexible as their processes become more defined and refined (Hannan & Freeman, 1977, p. 70). This organizational intolerance for ambiguity increases with age and experiences (Levinthal, 1991). These refined and defined processes are for building safety and efficiency but are not conducive to allowing flexibility and change. In higher education, as principles and processes are passed on from one generation to another, they become an integral part of the institution (Lane, 2007). This is evident in educational approaches; for the most part, education works to eliminate ambiguity. Most of our testing or other rubrics for evaluation are defined in such a way that there is a right answer. It’s A, B, C, or D or True or False. They are looking
to have the student repeat back what was determined to be important to learn (Evans, 2004). We have learning outcomes that define exactly what will be taught and what is expected to be learned and retained from a course. The ability to handle ambiguity is a critical skill that many students lack and our traditional methods neglect (Budner, 1962). In a course structure questionnaire given to students, they rated these eight items as critical components (DeRoma et al., 2003): (1) presence of a course syllabus; (2) presence of a clear schedule of assigned readings; (3) dates for testing scheduled in advance; (4) a clear outline for lecture topics; (5) adherence to a lecture topic for a particular lecture; (6) specific grading criteria outlined in advance; (7) exams emphasizing mastery of knowledge; and (8) exams/exercises involving objective versus subjective reporting. Johnson et al. (1995) have recommended that undergraduate teachers examine their course for tolerance for ambiguity as an important criterion for developing flexible, integrative and independent thinking. The American Council on Education (Greenhaus, & Callanan, 1996) states that the ability to function effectively in an ambiguous, complex and rapidly changing environment is a critical skill in industry. Morgan (1997, p. 92) argued that organizational intelligence requires “uses, embraces, and at times creates uncertainty as a resource for new patterns of development.” Therefore, behaviors critical for survival in organizations such as innovation, creativity, adaptability, entrepreneurship, flexibility in negotiation and other changeoriented goals are best achieved by people who have a tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty (Dollinger, et al., 1995). A significant and positive relationship has been found between creativity and tolerance for ambiguity (Tegano, 1990). Industrial Designers and Tolerance for Ambiguity What does this all mean? (1) Educators should be aware of the importance of tolerance for ambiguity and its influence on the success of students in the study of industrial design. (2) Students need to recognize their own tolerance for ambiguity or the lack thereof. (3) Faculty can work to develop a curricula that provides opportunities to experience and practice ambiguous situations. Evidence of an industrial design student who may lack a tolerance for ambiguity: • needs to know exactly what is expected in an assignment • wants to know what the result should look like; wants to see examples of quality work • asks multiple clarifying questions • does not like vague or general guidelines • can’t accept the subjectivity in grading • is uncomfortable with a variety of means, methods or processes to achieve a desired result
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• is overly concerned with finding the right answer • is uncomfortable with multiple solutions • does not accept failure • is uncomfortable with experimentation and playful approaches to problems • wants to select solutions early and defend them actively • struggles to find a balance with novelty and usefulness • won’t finish an assignment because it is not defined enough • creates their own boundaries, definitions or parameters to work within • focuses quickly on working with details that they can easily understand In IBM’s Experience Design Center in Austin, TX, they have a poster on the wall to remind designers about ambiguity. It reads: “Learn to anticipate, embrace, and leverage ambiguity.” Conclusion Tolerance for ambiguity can be defined as the degree to which an individual is comfortable with uncertainty, unpredictability, conflicting directions and multiple demands. Tolerance for ambiguity is manifest in a person’s ability to operate effectively in an uncertain environment. Some people may have a more natural predilection toward tolerance for ambiguity, while for others it develops over time through education and experience. Some strive daily to simply eliminate ambiguity in their lives. However, ambiguity exists in different degrees and for varying periods of time within individuals and organizations everywhere. How one deals with uncertainty and the stress of an ambiguous situation are important considerations in the life, education and professional practice of industrial designers. Oreg and Nevo (2009) found a correlation between careers individuals choose and the tolerance for ambiguity associated with that professional opportunity. A student possessing intolerance for ambiguity seeking opportunities in industrial design is bound to feel stress, anxiety and frustration. —Paul Skaggs email@example.com Paul Skaggs is a professor of industrial design at Brigham Young University. He joined academia after 22 years of experience in new product design and development, 14 of which he operated his own full-service new product development consulting firm. His research interest is in the area of design thinking, including the three cognitive modes of creative, visual and adaptive thinking. This paper was presented at the 2019 IDSA Education Symposium and selected through peer review for inclusion in this issue. It is presented here in a slightly edited form. For the complete paper, and other 2019 education paper submissions, visit idsa.org/education/education-papers.
REFERENCES Adams, J. (1986). Conceptual blockbusting (3rd ed.). Addison-Wesley Publishing, Inc. Agor, W. (1986). How top executives use their intuition to make important decisions, Business Horizons, 29, 39–41. Bayles, D. & Orland, T. (1993) Art and Fear. Image Continuum Press. Bochner, S. (1965). Defining intolerance of ambiguity. Psychological Record, 15, 393–400. doi:10.1007/BF03393605 Brenner, R. & Derby, E. (2000). People centered change, www.estherderby.com/writing_conf/people_centered_change.html Budner, S. (1962). Intolerance of ambiguity as a personality variable. Journal of Personality, 30(1), 29–50. doi:10.1111/1467-6494.ep8933446 Cohen, H., & Lefebvre, C. (Eds.). (2005). Handbook of categorization in cognitive science (1st ed.). Elsevier Science. Crick, F. (1995). The impact of Linus Pauling on molecular biology [video recording]. Special Collections, The Valley Library, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. DeRoma, V., Martin, K., & Kessler, M. (2003). The relationship between tolerance for ambiguity and need for course structure. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 30(2), 106. Dollinger, M., Saxton, T., & Golden, P. A. (1995). Intolerance of ambiguity and the decision to form an alliance. Psychology Reports, 77, 1197–1198. Duncker, K. (1945). On problem solving. Psychological Monographs, 58, 5. Drucker, P. F. (2001). The essential Drucker: The best sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. HarperCollins. Einstein, A. (2010). The ultimate quotable Einstein. Princeton University Press. Evans, M. (2004). Killing thinking: The death of the universities. Continuum. Fields, J. (2011). Uncertainty: Turning fear and doubt into fuel for brilliance. Penguin Group. Gelb, M. (1998). How to think like Leonardo da Vinci. Dell Publishing. Greenhaus, J. & Callanan G. (1996). American Council on Education. Higher education and work readiness: The view from the corporation. Task Force on High Performance Work and Workers, The Academic Connection. Hannan, M. & Freeman, J. (1989). Organizational ecology. Harvard University Press. Johansson, F. (2004). The Medici effect. Harvard Business School Publishing. Johnson, H., Court, K., Roersrna. M., & Kinnanian, D. T. (1995). Integration as integration: Tolerance of ambiguity and the integrative process at the undergraduate level. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 23(4), 271–276. Lane M. S., & Klenke K. (2004). The ambiguity tolerance interface: A modified social cognitive model for leading under uncertainty. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies. 10, 69–81. doi:10.1177/107179190401000306 Levinthal, D. A. (1991). Organizational adaptation and environmental selection interrelated processes of change. Organization Science, 2(1), 140–145. Loewy, R. (1951). Never leave well enough alone. Simon and Schuster. McLain, D. L., Kefallonitis, E., & Armani, K. (2015). Ambiguity tolerance in organizations: Definitional clarification and perspectives on future research. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 344. doi:10.3389/ fpsyg.2015.00344 Mendelsohn, G. (1976). Associative and attentional processes in creative performance. Journal of Personality, 44, 341–69. Morgan, G. (1997). Images of organization (2nd ed.). Sage Publications. Odiorne, G. (1981). The change resisters. Prentice-Hall, Inc. Olson, R. (1978). The art of creative thinking. Barnes and Noble Books. Oreg, S., Nevo, O., Metzer, H., Leder, N., & Castro, D. (2009). Dispositional resistance to change and occupational interests and choices. Journal of Career Assessment, 17(3), 312–323. doi:10.1177/1069072708330599 Rogers, C. (1961). On becoming a person. Houghton Mifflin. Runco, M. (1991) The evaluative, evaluative, and divergent thinking of children, The Journal of Creative Behavior, 25 (24), John Wiley and Sons. Skaggs, P. (2002). Aptitudes for industrial design (Unpublished master’s thesis). Rochester Institute of Technology. Sternberg, R., & Lubart, T. (1998). The Concept of creativity: Prospects and paradigms. In R. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of Creativity (pp. 3–15). Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/ CBO9780511807916.003 Tegano. D. W. (1990). Relationship of tolerance of ambiguity and playfulness to creativity. Psychological Report, 66, 1047–1056. Torrance, E. (1974). Torrance test for creative thinking. Personal Press.
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Hale Selek, IDSA, 2019 Young Educator of the Year Award
WIDENING STUDENTS’ HORIZONS
n recognition of her skills as an educator and the values she has instilled in her students, Hale Selek, IDSA, was granted the Society’s 2019 Young Educator of the Year Award during the IDSA Education Symposium on August 21 in Chicago. An assistant professor of product design at the University of Oregon (UO), Selek is esteemed by her colleagues and students as a world designer. Beyond her ID expertise and strong pedagogical abilities, she is known for introducing her students to the international design community and holding them to a professional standard that has improved the quality of their work. Since Selek joined UO’s Department of Product Design in 2015, the students have shown “a confidence in understanding various types of relationships between designers, manufacturers and consumers,” according to Kiersten Muenchinger, an associate professor in the department. Moreover, “Professor Selek’s teaching entices her students to see themselves not just as students, but as designers of products that are useful, needed, thoughtful and crave-worthy.” During the 2018–19 academic year, Selek taught several studio courses and a design process lecture course. She also co-developed a new course called Introduction to Studio II focused on designing with usability as a central concept. According to Muenchinger, Selek excelled in helping students understand “how details and affordances make final products ‘feel just right.’” In studio courses for juniors and seniors that follow one project from concept to completion, Selek provided opportunities for students to show their work at national and international exhibitions, like the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City and Salon Satellite in Milan. Muenchinger notes that Selek “singularly led the Product Design students at the University of Oregon to understand that participation in international exhibitions is
important, relevant and exciting for contemporary design discussion.” Part of the reason for this is that Selek herself is a driven industrial designer who has shown her work around the globe and garnered international accolades. Selek Design, the Oregon-based product design atelier Selek established with her husband, Erdem Selek, in 2016, has produced several award winners, such as the sleek screwdriver PlusMinus (2019 Good Design Award and 2017 Gray Award) and the extension cord Priz (2017 Red Dot Award). Recently, their Silent Mirror and Dial Tray were accepted to the 58th Venice Art Biennale and the juried ICFF Studio (where they won ICFF’s Studio Award). Christoph Lindner, dean of the College of Design at UO, says that Selek “has impacted this program and our school in profound ways and in short order.” He describes her teaching as “producing a vision for what an interactive, relevant discussion about aesthetics and process can be.” Many of Selek’s peers and students wrote with similar praise. One attested that Selek “has brought meticulous and minimal visual order to students’ work and their presentations.” Another commented, “I was having trouble designing the technical design elements in a home accessory class that Hale taught. She reminded me that the user is at the forefront of every design, which is something I have taken with me beyond that project.” Previously, Selek taught industrial design courses at Iowa State University and the Auckland University of Technology and Massey University in New Zealand. She has worked as an industrial designer in Istanbul, Turkey, with Delta Marine Engineering and with MG Design GMBH in Stuttgart, Germany. She earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, in 2004, followed by a master’s degree in industrial product design from Istanbul Technical University in 2008. Currently, she is working on a book about product semantics.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
I D S A EDUCATI O N HO NO R S
Lance Rake, IDSA, 2019 Education Award
AN INSPIRING PROFESSOR AND PRACTITIONER
he recipient of one of two IDSA Education Awards this year has worked as a designer and educator for more than four decades. Lance Rake, IDSA, is currently a professor of industrial design at the University of Kansas (KU). Honored as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2015, Rake is currently centering his research efforts on using design to create sustainable craft-based enterprises in rural communities in Africa, India and the United States. A number of Rake’s peers and students wrote to IDSA in support of his nomination for this award. Melissa Altenhofen, a former student of Rake’s, praised not only his strong tutelage but also his willingness to help his students outside of class: “That extra level of support always made us want to take our work a little farther and perhaps stay up just one more hour to make sure our effort matched his.” Greg Groener, senior product manager at Garmin International in Kansas City, KS, wrote, “None of my success would have been possible without the education I gained at KU from Lance Rake.” Several others credited Rake for their success as designers and spoke to his generosity as an instructor, co-worker and friend. “Lance is one of those very special teachers who fully engages with students in order to bring out the best in each of us,” wrote Lloyd Cooper, a former student and now principal designer at PUSH Product Design in Birmingham, AL. “While sharing his own extensive knowledge and providing guidance, he always encouraged us to question and come to terms with our own core ideas as they related to finding the best design solution.” Another affirmation of Rake’s success working with students, in 2010 he was awarded Outstanding Teacher by KU’s Center for Teaching Excellence, which is based on student nominations. Alongside teaching the major ID courses at KU, Rake teaches design electives. Over the past few years, he
has led classes on making electric guitars and building bicycles, as well as a series of courses where the students work directly with Timberland and Adidas on footwear design. Rake’s design research has been supported by private and public grants, and he has presented his research findings at national and international design conferences and institutions. He has served as an IDSA Student Chapter faculty advisor and is an active member of the Society’s Design Protection special interest section, Furthermore, Rake has used his experience as an educator and practitioner of design to serve as an expert witness in more than 30 design patent infringement and product liability cases. Notably, he was one of 133 industrial design professionals and professors who signed the amicus brief supporting Apple in its case against Samsung before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to joining the faculty at KU in 1987, Rake taught fulltime at Auburn University and Carrington Technical Institute in Auckland, New Zealand. He also taught short courses at Konstfackskolan in Stockholm, Sweden, and served as visiting professor at Halmstead University in Sweden, Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent, England, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, India. Rake holds a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from KU and a master’s in product design from North Carolina State University. Over the last three decades, he has made his mark as a professional designer, working as a freelancer and in corporate design studios and consulting offices on a broad range of projects. They include the design of motorcycles, space heaters, playing cards, furniture, medical products, plumbing fixtures, audio amplifiers, trade show exhibits and much more. In recent years, Rake has developed designs for bicycles, skateboards and paddleboards made from bamboo or bamboo composites in collaboration with HERO, a not-for-profit located in rural Greensboro, AL.
Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, IDSA, 2019 Education Award
BOOSTING SKILLS AND CONFIDENCE
hen Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, IDSA, accepted her Education Award onstage at the Society’s Education Symposium in Chicago this August, the collective admiration in the theater was palpable. Over the past 20 years, she has taught more than 130 design courses at five different educational institutions in two languages, earning the respect of innumerable colleagues and students from around the world. A collection of them wrote to IDSA to recommend Paepcke-Hjeltness for this top honor, citing her superb teaching abilities, work ethic and vision. This summer, Paepcke-Hjeltness joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin’s new School of Design and Creative Technologies as an assistant professor of practice in design. In her previous position as an assistant professor of industrial design at Iowa State University (ISU), she led the Design Thinking and Doing Research Lab to diffuse design thinking and doing methodologies. She also introduced sketchnoting—a method that provides a framework for students to communicate visually by allowing them to break down complex forms and concepts into combinations of dots, lines and shapes—to not only the ID program at ISU but a broader community of 1,000 students, faculty and staff across departments. Before that, Paepcke-Hjeltness worked at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, as an assistant professor, associate program director and, later, a strategic design consultant to the university’s Center for Functional Fabrics. In addition, she taught for many years at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA. There she developed, implemented and led a new master’s degree program in design for sustainability, along with developing ID electives, creating e-learning classes for design management and chairing curriculum revisions. At both Drexel and ISU, Paepcke-Hjeltness was the internal lead faculty member for the schools’ NASAD accreditations. She has also served as a faculty liaison
to IDSA student chapters and plans to support her enthusiastic Intro to ID students at UT Austin in creating the first-ever IDSA Student Chapter at the university. “Verena shows so much passion and dedication to the craft of teaching that it’s difficult to adequately convey,” writes David A. Ringholz, chair of the industrial design department at ISU. “She builds honest and thoughtful relationships with her students that deepen and invigorate the learning environment.” In particular, she is known for her active research and focus on visualization as a gateway to creative confidence and design ability. One of her former students, Kristen Swiercinsky, confirms this strength and attests to many more. “I have personally seen her pick up and reconnect the pieces of a student’s shattered self-esteem due to another toxic instructor tearing them down,” Swiercinsky writes. “By supporting the ideas and thoughts of each student, Verena helps them build their confidence through their academics, which then improves their overall well-being.” Dan Neubauer, IDSA, an industrial design lecturer at ISU, also has glowing words for his former colleague. “There needs to be more examples of this level of teaching, research integration and passion,” he shares. “Many days Verena can be found staying late after classes to work with student groups. Verena pushes students to achieve their greatest potential while also being a sound and supportive instructor whom they feel very comfortable coming to for mentorship.” Born in Germany, Paepcke-Hjeltness graduated from Potsdam University of Applied Sciences in 1999 and, in 2013, earned a master’s degree in industrial design from The Ohio State University. While teaching at ISU, she and her team received a $14,148 Miller Faculty Fellowship for the 2018–19 academic year for their project Sketchnoting: A Pedagogical Tool in Ecology.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
S CHO LAR SHI P R E CI PI E NT S
Nicole Nassif, S/IDSA 2019 Design Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship Winner
From a young age, Nicole Nassif has always loved drawing and the act of creating things. She found industrial design during high school and almost immediately became aware that this was the field for her. “I knew I could change the world and make it better through this profession in a way that really touched people,” she says of her inspiration to pursue design. “I even tabled my Olympic dreams in speed skating to get here, which was a very painful decision, but one that I now know was well worth it.” Nassif is now a senior industrial design student at Wentworth Institute of Technology. She has experience in the automotive, medical device, footwear and apparel, and consumer goods fields from co-ops at Stoneridge, the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, the NOBULL Project and Eleven. She is an advocate for sustainable, purposeful design with a focus on exceptional user experience and storytelling. Before beginning her studies, Nassif was a competitive Irish step dancer for over a decade, an avid mock trial lawyer and a nationally-ranked short track speed skater. After graduation, Nassif hopes to inspire other women designers to pursue their passions. “One of my larger, overarching goals is to become a strong female leader and authoritative voice in the field of industrial design and to continue to pave the way for and promote other women. Creating and encouraging a much more inclusive industry is extremely important. I plan on contributing to help the industry as a whole evolve and set a good example.”
Right: Jung is a business backpack for the grown up who doesn’t want to grow up, designed by Nichole Nassif, S/IDSA.
Sheng-Hung Lee, I/IDSA 2019 Gianninoto Graduate Scholarship Winner
Sheng-Hung Lee, I/IDSA, is a designer, maker and educator. He is inspired by multiple domains of knowledge and different perspectives, and he thrives on creating new value for clients in multidisciplinary teams. He is trained as an industrial designer and electrical engineer, and his approach to problem-solving is influenced by his passion for how design and technology impact on and can be integrated into society. Lee has served on the jury for multiple international design competitions including IDEA, the Spark Design Award, the IDA Award and the A’ Design Award and Competition. He also worked as a researcher at the National Science Council in Taiwan and is a member of respected institutions such as the Taiwan Society of Technology and Sociology, the Phi Tau Phi Scholastic Honor Society and China Technical Consultants Inc. “I would love to act as a bridge in Asia promoting the graduate school design program values I’ve believed in, the creative thinking I’ve appreciated, the reflections I’ve
had and all the wonderful things I’ve experienced,” he says about his plans following graduate school. “I will apply my creative capabilities in projects that can make real social impacts. However small the influence may be, the projects are launched to make people’s lives better and help build a greater society through design.” Lee graduated with a double bachelor’s degree in industrial design and electrical engineering from National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. His work has won prestigious awards including IDEA Gold, the Braun Prize, the Core77 Design Award, Red Dot (Best of the Best), the Spark Design Award, the European Product Design Award (Gold) and the iF Award. In his spare time, Lee teaches product design at the Fudan University Shanghai Institute of Visual Art and the Detao Masters Academy. He is also an avid learner and a keen student in computer science, taking regular online courses and writing apps for daily activities such as ordering food and appreciating visual arts.
Right: The Future Learning Experience of Public Area project reenvisions the Shanghai public library, designed by Sheng-Hung Lee, I/IDSA.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
CO M M UNI TY E V E NT S
SQ1 GOES BIG IN SAN FRANCISCO
n the past three years, SQ1 CON has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a sketching-based IDSA Chicago Chapter workshop led by design educator Hector Silva, IDSA, and a group of ID students from the School of Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It is now a full-fledged nonprofit organization. Formerly known as Advanced Design Sketching, it has rebranded both its name and its mission, hosting a two-day event across the city of San Francisco focused on educating designers of all levels on a wide variety of design skills and topics. The group renamed itself Advanced Design to reflect the broadening of its mission and hosted an incredible event in October featuring lectures, panels and workshops with 14 speakers whose experiences run the gamut from talented young designers like Google’s Miguel Harry to industry veteran and creative director of Astro Studios Norio Fujikawa, IDSA. Change was the central theme of the conference, and it’s clear that Advanced Design has wholeheartedly embraced this in its mission. The new conference format reflects a willingness to grow and embrace change in the industry, and the diversity of perspectives and experience is something that can’t be missed. Instead of a static event held in a single venue, SQ1 2019 was hosted by 11 different design spaces across San Francisco. The 250 attendees found themselves elbow-deep in the SF design scene, visiting studios like Ammunition, NewDeal Design, fuseproject, frog and Huge Design, all while getting an insider perspective on the kind of amazing work created there every day. The multitude of venues created a special camaraderie among attendees, who wandered from speaker to speaker in groups both small and large talking excitedly about what they’d just learned. Students found themselves engaging with longtime industry pros, trading tricks for rapid visualization from Fed Rios, learning real-world design for manufacturing knowledge from Ti Chang, IDSA, and understanding what it takes to follow your passions from Cesar Idrobo. Instead of
exchanging business cards, folks traded Instagram handles, buzzing with excitement over each other’s sketches as they shared everything from digital portfolios and podcast recommendations to the best place to try dumplings in Chinatown. The only thing I could have wished for was a time machine to see every possible presentation. I attended four speakers and panels exploring everything from in-depth technical details on improving your renderings and 3D visualization with Tim Zarki to some seriously introspective analysis of the power of applying human psychology to design to impact users’ lives with Mauricio Romano. And true to the organizers’ intent, the theme of change was a powerful unifying element across the conference. As designers in a rapidly shifting digital world, we need to stay agile enough to explore new technologies like virtual reality while maintaining a rock-solid understanding of the principles of good design. SQ1 2019 delivered, giving attendees the opportunity to learn about everything from design strategy to manufacturing and educating equally across all skill and experience levels. IDSA was a proud sponsor of SQ1 in 2019 and looks forward to more collaborations that bring our community closer and provide value-rich learning opportunities. Advanced Design is also the recipient of IDSA’s 2019 Special Achievement Award in recognition of its work and dedication toward advancing the industrial design profession. —Caterina Rizzoni, IDSA firstname.lastname@example.org Caterina Rizzoni is an industrial designer at Kaleidoscope, a fullservice insights, design and development firm in Cincinnati, OH. She is passionate about leveraging co-design and human-centered design practices to better serve the needs of the end user. Rizzoni is also the vice chair of the Central Ohio chapter of IDSA.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
T HE WO R KI NG CL ASS
A PEEK INSIDE THE HUGE DESIGN INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
nterns play an important role at Huge Design. Our fulltime designers are supported by a consistent class of two to three interns who rotate through the studio on a fourto-eight-month basis. We take great pride in our ability to recruit the very best talent and quickly mold students in our fast-paced environment. The goal of our program is to help interns quickly develop their professional skills and talent while fully integrating them into our design process and culture. Over the years we have identified a few key aspects that make this a unique learning experience and a valuable foundation for their ongoing development as professionals. Set them up for success. We have found that a disciplined onboarding process for each new intern is key to maximizing the value of their time here. It all starts with setting clear expectations on day one when every student gets a meeting with our intern coordinator and office manager to explain their roles and responsibilities and to answer any questions. We find it important to discuss each intern’s goals at the start and make an effort to follow up on these later in the semester. In addition to their primary role as designers, interns are given a few studio-specific tasks as their weekly responsibly (refill the water jugs, raise/lower the security roller door, design the dodgeball shirts, etc.). Balancing these supplemental tasks with core project work develops time-management skills while fostering a sense of respect for the studio and the operational demands of consulting. Of course, this sense of respect must cut both ways. It’s equally important for us to show interns the same respect we demand from them. In that vein, interns are treated no different from new hires here at Huge. Setting this tone of mutual respect elevates expectations and has an empowering effect on students’ own attitude and professional growth.
The buddy system and friendly competition. Any learning environment can benefit from being surrounded by like-minded peers, and an internship program is no different. We try very hard to align schedules such that multiple internships start on the same day or week. Experiencing a new city, job or culture for the first time is always easier with a buddy. Oftentimes our interns share living arrangements, friends and social lives outside of work, and being on the same timeline really helps make these transitions easier. In the studio, having a peer can help tackle challenges as you both learn together. A fellow intern is also a useful data point to gauge personal development and progress throughout your internship. Our studio is built on the idea of good old fashioned competition among all levels of designers, and having someone at your own level to push you is invaluable. Urgency as an educational tool. All design consultancies are fast-paced environments by nature, and Huge is no exception. Most of our Bay Area clients are in the fiercely competitive technology space and must rely on speed to market to win. A sense of urgency permeates the studio from the moment you step in our door. One consistent piece of feedback we get from students that experience our internship program is the shock at how fast we move and how quickly design decisions are made. It’s the need to act quickly and decisively that supersedes concern over ego massaging in reviews and concept selection. There simply isn’t time to keep polishing a bad idea or exploring a dead end. All Huge designers, particularly interns, get unvarnished feedback cycles unlike anything experienced in school that supercharges their growth as a designer.
A shot at the big one. Our goal is to empower interns with as much responsibility as they can handle, but often their time is focused in a supporting role working closely with lead/staff designers. Given this reality, we feel strongly that every intern should be given a shot at the big one. This refers to the hot project, the coolest or most high-profile work in the studio that everyone wants to throw down on. Our studio culture is based on the premise that a great idea can come from anyone. The unique point of view that interns bring can often surprise and inspire others. It’s not unusual for the intern’s idea or concept to get chosen on a given project. At least one of our recent IDEA Gold awards was based on an intern sketch (shhhhhh!). Having talented interns that are able to contribute at an equal level to the rest of our staff has an undeniably positive effect that pushes the whole studio to up their design game. Rewarding attitude. We have worked with many young designers over the years, and probably 50-plus interns have come through our doors in the last 10 years. It may sound cliché to say, but even in a field driven by creative thinking and natural talent, attitude is still king. The Huge culture is built on the idea of “confidence without the arrogance,” and our designers understand that the needs of our clients and projects take priority over our personal ego development. If ever there was a time to focus on listening over talking, it would be at your first design internship. Interns that ask questions, take direct feedback in stride and focus on learning the Huge way grow exponentially as designers. As on-the-job educators, it’s also our responsibility to continually reward attitude and hard work over raw ability. It’s amazing to see the growth that happens with the students who are able to soak up feedback, take criticism in stride and come back twice as hard the next time. The students who can combine their natural talent with humility
and hard work are the future rock stars. We try our best to hire them when they graduate. Networking and the grateful goodbye. One thing everyone learns in their first job or internship is the importance of relationship building and networking in their chosen field. Your future success depends to a large degree on your ability to expand your professional network and leave a positive impression with every client and colleague you meet. Much like the onboarding experience, every intern gets an equally important send-off at the conclusion of the internship (usually at a local establishment). This is our opportunity to reflect, laugh together and get their unvarnished feedback on ways to improve the program. Most importantly, it’s the chance to express our gratitude for all their hard work and express our genuine desire to stay in touch. We have been fortunate to have had the chance to work with many talented designers over the years. These experiences have turned into long-term connections and often close friendships that last for years beyond the four to eight months of working together. Networking and maintaining key relationships are skills we can all stand to develop further and that pay untold dividends throughout your career. —Bill Webb, IDSA email@example.com Bill Webb is a product design professional and co-founder of Huge Design. For the past decade he has helped lead and grow Huge into one the top Bay Area ID studios, collaborating with some of the biggest consumer electronics brands and boldest tech startups to deliver award-winning product designs. Throughout his career, he has inspired those around him with his player-coach mentality, combining an intuitive approach to design with a no-nonsense attitude and blue-collar work ethic.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
S T U D ENT ME R I T AWAR DS
2019 BRINGS FRESH UPDATES TO THE STUDENT MERIT AWARDS
ach year, IDSA recognizes exceptional student design talent through our Student Merit Awards program. The competition highlights the very best creativity, problem-solving and design brilliance across each of IDSA’s five Districts. Two IDSA student member winners are selected from each district for this prestigious distinction, one at the graduate level (GSMA) and one at the undergraduate level (SMA). Being selected as a GSMA or SMA District winner is indeed a high honor for graduating students who aspire to enter the profession of industrial design with an edge on their competition. Many of our past winners have gone on to great success and stand as a testament to their peers about the opportunity and advantage that IDSA’s Student Merit Award program offers. Following the successful pilot of the GSMAs in 2018 as a completely virtual competition, in 2019 we transitioned the judging portion (round 2) of the undergraduate program to our online awards platform, the same we use for the International Design Excellence Awards. Having both GSMA and SMA programs operate online has enabled several key advancements to the competition experience. Most notably, it brings much-needed standardization to the overall process and a streamlined, yet thorough, judging procedure.
Schools with an active IDSA Student Chapter are still responsible for the first round of the SMAs where they identify a candidate as their SMA finalist. This individual, a graduating senior, is someone with tremendous talent and proficiency of skill and who best embodies the ID program they represent. To enter round 2, SMA finalists upload their project work (written responses, videos, project portfolios, etc.) for review by a curated panel of judges to be evaluated against peers from other schools in their District. After a careful review by our judges, one SMA winner is selected from each District. This year’s GSMA and SMA winners reveal much about the current landscape of industrial design and design education as a whole. Their work spans a wide breadth of industry categories with projects often straddling the line between product, service and system ecosystem. We are encouraged by this and fully embrace how vast industrial design has become as a professional practice. Thank you to all the educators and mentors out there who helped nurture the talent found on the following pages and for encouraging these young designers to achieve their very best. Your support is vital to their success, and your dedication to developing the next generation of designers helps ensure a vibrant future for our profession.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
S M A WI NNE R
CE NT R AL
Jack Thrun, S/IDSA | University of Cincinnati
A HUMAN ADVOCATE
he son of an illustrator and a pediatrician, Jack Thrun, S/IDSA, thought he was going to be an architect— until he discovered industrial design. “One of my old baseball teammates has a sister who was an industrial designer at frog at the time, and my mom was talking to her at one of our games,” he remembers. “My mom thought it might be interesting to me, so we looked up online what industrial design is and, right then and there I knew what I wanted to do with my life (even though the college hockey dream was still alive). This was in seventh grade.” Thrun was excited to learn that ID could constitute a perfect blend of art, engineering and science. As a member of the University of Cincinnati’s industrial design class of 2019, he became most interested in consumer electronics and healthcare. “I’ve always had an interest in medical product design because the impact is so direct and obvious,” he says. “But over the years, I’ve come to realize that designing products that simply make life more enjoyable is just as worthy of a cause. My hope is to design products for people that make it easier for them to pursue their passions and make their lives more enjoyable.” Thrun’s designs typify this mindset. Take the Virb Mojo, completed during his 2017 summer internship at Garmin. “An action camera for the active millennial,” Mojo is waterproof up to 10 meters, shoots 4K Ultra HD and 30 fps, and allows users to share their photos directly to their social media platforms. On the healthcare side, Thrun has worked on a cast cutter for Philips and a smart workstation for mobile electronic health records for Franklin Health Systems, among other projects. He describes his design process as “nothing unique” in that “every very product has a user, and it’s the designer’s role to be the human advocate.” While studying at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and working on projects through the school’s co-op program, he learned how to narrow down concepts throughout the design process and better understand the user and their needs. “Somehow I’ve managed to fit all of my
projects thus far into the precise yet approachable bucket,” he says. In particular, he prizes the use of pure geometry and soft forms brought to life with crisp edges, refined details and intentional parting lines. According to Thrun, the co-op program is arguably the number-one reason most students choose the University of Cincinnati. Every four months, the 64 students in Thrun’s class would intern at different companies, ranging from medical product design and furniture design to UX/ UI, consumer electronics and design research. At each company, the students would learn different skills and techniques, and when they returned to Cincinnati, they would share those experiences with each other. In this way, Thrun says, “the students at UC DAAP are their own most valuable resource.” Thrun will began his post-grad career designing consumer products for Garmin in Kansas City, KS. The company’s moto is #BeatYesterday, which Thrun takes to heart. He also credits IDSA with helping to strengthen his resolve as a young designer. As he puts it, “The opportunity to attend the International Design Conference this past August in Chicago was a surreal experience. Getting the chance to meet and listen to design icons such as Michael DiTullo, Brett Lovelady and J Mays, to name a few, was hands down the coolest and most inspiring experience I’ve had since starting this design journey.” To other up-and-coming designers, Thrun has some recently acquired wisdom to impart. First: “Design isn’t about you. You’re always designing for someone else, so keep that in mind and try to keep your personal bias and aesthetic preferences out of the process.” Second: “Don’t be afraid to put in the work! While you’re sleeping, there are students out there who are practicing and putting in the work to be better.” Right: The Virb Mojo is a conceptual action camera designed for ordinary consumers that lets you share your images directly to your favorite social media platforms, designed by Jack Thrun.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
S M A WI NNE R
MI DWE S T
Jack Judge, S/IDSA | Purdue University
INCORPORATING BEAUTY INTO PEOPLE’S EVERYDAY LIVES
ack Judge, S/IDSA, grew up with an artistic streak and an itch to be an inventor. He matriculated at Purdue University with the idea that he would become an engineer, but switched to industrial design once he learned about the discipline. “I still have a great respect for the field,” Judge says of engineering, although “it wasn’t quite the kind of creativity I was hoping for. Fine arts and music have always been a big part of my life, and when I learned about industrial design, I was struck by the unique opportunity to not only solve problems but also bring beauty into people’s everyday lives.” Judge had always enjoyed drawing, though most of his creativity in high school took shape through music. He played jazz piano, joined a show choir and took up guitar and bass on the side. He didn’t take his first fine arts class until college, but doing so confirmed for him that he made the right choice in switching to industrial design. He was attracted to the multidisciplinary approach of ID and how it enables him to stretch and pull ideas from all parts of his brain, sometimes over the course of a single project. Now his ID process begins with deciding what process is best for a given situation. “Beyond that, it can look totally different from one project to the next,” he explains. “Does a project require heavy sketching, as a tool might? Do I begin with quick sketch mockups? Do I do CAD first and sketch later? I love to learn and explore design processes and intentionally tackle challenges that require new and innovative approaches.” He also discovered his personal aesthetic, which threads through all of designs—from a portable ergonomic computer mouse to a child-resistant pill organizer to an impact-sensing mouthguard for football players. In general, Judge gravitates toward forms with highly refined surfacing. Whether those forms are minimally designed or complex and sculptural, he relishes in exploring how different surfaces interact with one another and trying to understand how designers can communicate a story to the user through those interactions. The ID program at Purdue is competitive, Judge says; his freshman class included close to 50 students and dwindled to about half that number by the time their
sophomore year portfolio review came around. Usually, around 16 Purdue students are admitted for junior year, and Judge was one of them. Fortunately, he and his classmates were able to sublimate the pressure they felt into camaraderie and exemplary work. As Judge describes it, “Each student has their own desk with a computer in the studio, which is the student’s space to do with as they wish. Because of the sense of ownership that comes from this, and because of the bonds developed through surviving the portfolio review together, there is generally a strong culture of trust and encouragement among each class.” In 2017, five years into his ID studies, Judge attended his first IDSA International Design Conference in Atlanta, GA. “It marked a complete shift in my understanding of the potential of industrial design and gave me a brand-new passion for the craft,” he says of the experience. “It is also where I began developing my professional network, which has been extremely valuable.” Having recently graduated from Purdue, Judge has dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and perhaps owning a business one day. In the meantime, he plans to acquire as much knowledge as he can across a broad range of skill sets and projects. “The one thing I know with certainty,” he says, “is that I will actively pursue situations that require a great deal of creativity and a great deal of continual learning.” To other aspiring industrial designers, Judge offers two pieces of advice. One is to join a co-op, as he did at Delta Faucet Company from 2016 to 2018. The second is to get out and meet people, even if you’re a freshman who doesn’t know much about how the design world works. “Go to events and start conversations, reach out via email or LinkedIn to designers you’ve never met, and don’t be afraid to follow up consistently,” he suggests. “Sure, some people won’t respond, but plenty of people like to show off their knowledge. Go out of your way to pick their brains and learn from them, get your portfolios reviewed by them, etc. School is great, but don’t let yourself be isolated in an academic bubble.” Right: Sera is a childproof locking pill organizer that prevents accidental poisonings but is also user friendly to adults, relying on finger length rather than hand strength, designed by Jack Judge, S/IDSA.
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
G S M A W I NNE R
Carly Hagins, S/IDSA | University of Notre Dame
A NEW WAY OF SEEING THE WORLD
rior to graduate school, Carly Hagins, S/IDSA, worked in toy design, the craft beer industry and higher education. She received her bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the University of Cincinnati and worked as an assistant professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston until August 2019. “While I was living in Boston, the local IDSA chapter organized events that really helped me connect and cement relationships with a handful of brilliant designers,” she says. “I now consider these individuals dear friends, and their perspectives on the industry have informed the ways in which I navigate my own professional career.” Currently, Hagins is an MFA candidate in industrial design at the University of Notre Dame, where her work primarily focuses on wellness for undergraduate students. “If college students have a better experience in school, college graduates have the potential to be happier,” she says. “While this pursuit has involved plenty of traditional industrial design, it has also been a great opportunity to explore experience, systems and service design.” In her graduate education, Hagins has worked closely with staff at the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being, Notre Dame’s on-campus wellness center, to offer creative methodologies that pair design thinking with public health and health promotion. Her ongoing collaborations with campus stakeholders have introduced design to student affairs professionals and positively changed how they engage with the students they serve. She also has enjoyed the opportunity to teach her own classes as a graduate student at Notre Dame. “The undergraduate students are extremely driven, and many of them are concurrently taking classes in subjects like business, engineering and neuroscience,” she says. “It is fascinating to see how they apply the design perspective to completely different areas of study.” Like many industrial designers (and many of IDSA’s SMA and GSMA winners), Hagins thought she’d become a mechanical engineer. Though as a high schooler she
enjoyed art as much as math, science, critical thinking and problem-solving, it wasn’t until she toured the design program at the University of Cincinnati that she discovered ID as a possible career. “Industrial design was completely enthralling,” she says. “From the moment of that campus visit, I was hooked.” Recently, Hagins has taken up cartooning, a practice that makes sense and works well for her as an industrial designer. Cartoons “are approachable, easy to understand and reasonably efficient to produce,” she says. “I also think people respond positively to the human element of these sketches; although most are created digitally, the intentionally imperfect lines are proof that a person made them. The cartoons have informed the rest of my aesthetic, which I would describe as fun. I’m particularly interested in how fun things can also be beautiful, and how aesthetics can make seemingly serious things (like an ovulation predictor kit) not only approachable but desirable.” In the future, Hagins sees herself in a leadership role, guiding design teams to push the bounds of creativity and have fun along the way. At the same time, she knows that students who are new to ID may find the discipline hard to grasp. “Learning design is like learning a foreign language; it is an entirely new way of seeing the world,” she admits. “It requires hard work and repetition, focus and persistence. Most people don’t become fluent overnight, so don’t get discouraged if it seems like the process is taking a while.” “One of the biggest, most important parts of college is figuring out what you need to be your best self,” she continues. “Pay attention to the moments when you’re excited, alert, alive as well as the times when you’re drowsy, bored or preoccupied. Remember that the things that work for you may be very different from the things that work for others.” Right: Quad is a board game designed to encourage conversation among undergraduate students about life and decision-making, including helping them avoid developing unhealthy drinking habits, designed by Carly Hagins, S/IDSA.
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Emma Mantell, S/IDSA | Kean University
EMPATHY AS A GUIDING LIGHT
hen Emma Mantell, S/IDSA, started looking into colleges as a senior in high school, she had no idea what kind of career she wanted to pursue. “I just knew I wanted to create tangible things,” she says. But she didn’t know what that meant. “Nothing seemed right until I stumbled upon a description for industrial design,” she remembers. “At that moment, it all just clicked. I was so relieved to find an expanding field where I could apply my creativity in a meaningful way.” Mantell enrolled at Kean University and graduated this May with a master’s in industrial and product design. She appreciated the variety of the courses offered at Kean and the relatively small size of her classes. “I got to know all of my peers and had plenty of one-on-one time with my professors,” she recalls. “Our industrial design program was like a family.” As a kid, Mantell experimented with different mediums, “primarily drawing and sculpting out of polymer clay.” She also nurtured a passion for piano throughout her childhood. This love for myriad forms of creative expression served her well at Kean, where each new project introduced a new skill she had to learn. “Working with different materials or using new programs to better convey my concepts pushed my limits as a designer every day, in the best way,” Mantell insists. For one, she learned that she leans minimal in her aesthetic, gleaning much of her inspiration from nature and Scandinavian design. She also learned that her design process can be summarized with one word: empathy. This virtue is evident in Mantell’s two SMA awardwinning designs. The first, called esa, is a redesigned door lock, door handle and key set that helps the elderly and other users with limited motor skills. The second, Prana, encompasses a breast shield device and attendant app that measures milk flow from nursing mothers to their infants. “In
my opinion, the best designs are the ones made with the most compassion,” she says. “My dream is to utilize design to start meaningful conversations and encourage empathy.” Her person motto is “design to open minds.” Being involved with IDSA has not only helped Mantell grow as a young designer but also opened doors. “Being able to attend the IDC in Chicago was an amazing experience, thanks to IDSA,” she says. “Having the opportunity to meet with so many professionals in the field was so eye-opening and has only made me that much more excited to pursue my career.” Thinking about her future, she says, “Design gives me purpose. I never could have imagined that I could be able to utilize my skills to potentially impact the world so positively.” Her career goals are constantly evolving. She hopes to work in an environment with a lot of variety and collaboration that will help her grow as a designer. Most of all she strives to make a difference in people’s lives by improving their experiences. In 10 years, Mantell sees herself “traveling and working alongside great minds to spearhead social design initiatives around the world.” Regarding the future of design, she sees it as about “the interconnection between emotional people and logical technology.” She believes that “designers will become the new philosophers that will help us all to reach a level of personal efficiency and self-actualization within a product ecosystem that will only continue to expand.” She also has some great pointers for students who are new to ID. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, bounce your ideas off your peers and experiment with your style,” she says. Also: “Design to make yourself happy.” Right: Parana takes the guesswork out of breastfeeding by measuring the amount of milk a baby consumes while nursing, designed by Emma Mantell, S/IDSA.
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Danielle Chen, S/IDSA | University of Pennsylvania
THROUGH THE LENS OF PLAY
anielle Chen, S/IDSA, describes herself as a product designer and storyteller who creates meaningful user experiences through the lens of play. Studying industrial design wasn’t too much of a stretch, given her upbringing in a creative environment. “My dad is an artist, while my mom is an architect,” says Chen. “Getting into product design was a spontaneous but strategic decision by finding a connecting tissue between both of my parents’ professions.” Chen earned her undergraduate degree in product design from Drexel University, where she discovered her passion for toy design. While studying at Drexel, she completed a six-month co-op at Hasbro and returned after graduation to design for two of the company’s brands, furReal and Littlest Pet Shop. “I got to deep dive into their brands and create products from concept to production,” she says. “However, despite how much I enjoyed my time working at Hasbro and all the new skills and knowledge I learned there, I wanted to better understand how I could incorporate business strategy into my design process.” Thus, she joined the integrated product design (IPD) master’s program at the University of Pennsylvania, based on how students come from design, engineering, and business backgrounds to collaborate on different projects. Last year, Chen and two teammates in the IPD program designed a board game to help families affected by cancer develop a greater understanding of one another. When Chen saw how a product she co-created could encourage people to talk and gather around a table for a fun moment of family connection, she realized that she wanted to apply her creative skills to make a positive impact on people’s lives by bringing in elements of play. “I’ve always enjoyed taking a playful approach to my work, whether it is the visuals I create to accommodate the interaction, the content I write to facilitate the user experience or the story I tell to engage the audience,” she says. She also acknowledges that the product design industry is competitive with many talented designers and limited job opportunities. But after earning her master’s degree in May 2019, Chen knows who she is as a designer and how she can use her individual strengths to stand out. “My time at IPD has taught me to become a listener infused with great empathy toward the end users, a collaborator fueled with motivation and a leader who is confident to voice her own opinions.”
As a professional, Chen would like to lead a design team working on products and services across the physical and digital realms, whether at an established company or on her own. She’d also like to continue teaching design thinking, to help both designers and non-designers realize the power of creativity in their work and speak at more conferences to inspire others. She especially would like to mentor young female design students and emerging designers and foster more female leaders in the design industry. Being a young female designer herself, Chen found that joining IDSA provided her with ample opportunities and inspiration to succeed. “The resources IDSA offers have been a great gateway for me to connect to the rest of the design world,” she says. “IDSA constantly shares new work or industry news, which helps keep me updated on the latest trends and innovations.” She’s also met many people through IDSA’s network who have become her friends and mentors over the years and helped her to build a professional network of her own. First and foremost, Chen describes herself as a “strong user advocate.” With every project, she begins by “spending a great chunk of time listening to my users’ frustrations or challenges” and uses a systematic approach to synthesize the information into digestible and actionable insights. Having an entrepreneurial mindset also means that she is always thinking of ways to make her products sustainable and scalable. In her view, “a successful product doesn’t stop at the functionality and aesthetic levels.” More often, her design process hinges on how to strategically shift the product from a physical object to a consumable piece of merchandise or service. She urges budding product designers to “always be proactive and curious—ask for help and seek advice from your professors, design professionals or peers. There’s always so much to learn from each person.” She also recommends balancing internal and external validation and deciding whether you’re using your critics’ words as a reflector or an indicator. In the end, she says, “you have to believe in what speaks to you from the bottom of your heart.” Right: Rekindling is a collaborative board game that promotes conversations about a family member’s cancer diagnosis and builds empathy and connection, designed by Danielle Chen, S/IDSA.
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Timothy Joe, S/IDSA | University of Houston
SOLVING A JIGSAW PUZZLE
imothy Joe, S/IDSA, came to industrial design by accident. “I was browsing college architecture sites and found the words ‘industrial design’ listed under the University of Houston’s architecture major,” he remembers. “Although the name sounded like civil engineering, I clicked out of curiosity and liked what I read enough to keep researching it.” Before college, Joe developed interests in photography, art, business and entrepreneurship. He was also an athlete and interested in “modifying my gear and understanding how it works.” He wanted to learn how to make goods and services and how to market and sell them, but didn’t know quite where to begin. He eventually realized that he could combine all these things with industrial design and bring people joy in the creation and dissemination of his designs. He thinks of design as a “multidimensional puzzle” composed of time, material cost, user constraint variables that all need to be considered. “First I find the pieces and define the problem,” he explains. “Then I arrange the pieces as I start to organize and understand my data. Then I start testing which pieces fit together in order to create tangible ideas. Then clumps of pieces start to form, and the product starts to appear. And finally, I connect all the pieces into a fully synthesized picture, telling a story.” Born and raised in Houston, TX, Joe found IDSA within the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design. “The student IDSA chapter at my school helped me find the mentors I needed to accelerate my growth,” he says. “My primary mentor, Erin Lew, was the most valuable resource I had in my design journey. Without the connection with her through IDSA, I definitely would not be a Student Merit Award winner.” At the 2019
International Design Conference, where he presented his outstanding work alongside the Society’s other SMA and GSMA winners, Joe also was able to further his goal of expanding his professional network. In his design work, Joe enjoys adaptation more than digging into a single aesthetic. “I find that alternating between, cute, aggressive, elegant, etc. provides the most exciting design life,” he says. “But if I were to identify a unifying idea in the aesthetics I create, it would boil down to CMF and form that simultaneously make life easier and inspire pride of ownership.” Regarding the future of design, he sees it as “multidisciplinary” and as “an intersection of sciences, where we bring the sciences together and create a single product.” Regarding his future professional aspirations, he’d like to work as an in-house designer for a few years to learn the trade. But he is open to where the future takes him with the main goal to learn. Currently, Joe is developing the idea of “lazy design,” which would turn positive behaviors like flossing or cleaning around the house into easy or “lazy” behaviors. In this way, he believes that industrial designers like himself have the power to encourage more people to do good things, without those people having to try or change much. “If we could design more products with human laziness in mind, we would be freer to focus on the things that matter, or we could subtly alter behaviors positively,” Joe contends. “That is my goal with design: making goodness easier.” Right: Project Limbo uses accessible off-the-shelf electronic components to train children wearing a prosthesis to regain control of their environment through play therapy, designed by Timothy Joe, S/IDSA.
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Kristi Bartlett, S/IDSA | University of Houston
REAL INSIGHT FROM REAL USERS
fter receiving her bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Rice University, Kristi Bartlett, S/IDSA, pursued industrial design for personal reasons. “A few years ago, I was using medical equipment to take care of a family member with medical needs,” she says. “I became so frustrated by how difficult some of the equipment was to use and noticed a design disparity between medical products and consumer products.” As a master’s student at the University of Houston (UH), Bartlett leveraged her previous engineering education to design medical products that meet users’ needs “more comprehensively.” This tracks in her design portfolio, which includes products like Exergen, a reimagined temporal artery thermometer with improved usability, and Grow, a flexible feeding pump carrier for tube-fed infants and children. Now graduated from UH, Bartlett is the director of operations and design at ZIBRIO, an early-stage health company dedicated to advancing novel biometrics for human balance. Bartlett also holds the distinction, alongside SMA winner Timothy Joe, of being one of two students that IDSA selected from a single school in one year—a first since in the SMA/GSMA program’s history. Growing up in the Denver area, Bartlett says she was always taking art classes in school whenever she could, “but ended up pursuing engineering because it seemed like a more viable career path.” It wasn’t until college that she heard about industrial design, but Rice didn’t offer ID as a major. Years later she realized how ID could blend her interests in fine art and technical problem-solving. The fact that the University of Houston sits next to the largest medical center in the world, Texas Medical Center, was another plus. However, “it was challenging to adapt to a new way of being evaluated,” she says of her ID education at UH. “Coming from engineering, I was used to there being one right answer to every problem, and the professor’s feedback would be very straightforward to help you reach that answer. In ID, the problems are open-ended, and the feedback can be harder to digest and interpret as it is much more subjective.” Nevertheless, Bartlett says UH’s program was amazing for how “it really promoted the same things I value,” including a research-oriented approach to design and a hands-on approach to learning; for example, she never guessed that
she would have to learn to weld or work with fiberglass. She also appreciated that the students’ thesis projects were essentially “rigorous research projects and product design projects rolled into one.” “Research is a critical part of the design process for me, and I particularly enjoy the processes of co-design or participatory design,” she says. “I found in doing my thesis project that all my most valuable design insights came from the actual users I was working with. I know I don’t have all the answers, so my work can be most impactful when I listen to others and get their ideas about the way the product could be designed.” She also has IDSA to thank for expanding her worldview. “Being involved with IDSA has helped my growth as a designer by exposing me to the professional world of design very early in my studies,” she says. In school, she and her fellow students were mostly exposed to student work and most often compared their own work to that of other students. But by attending IDSA conferences, she was exposed to professionals’ work and their perspectives, and that “pushed me to work harder and aim higher with my own work.” Bartlett is an impassioned advocate for more diverse design teams and hopes to bring an empathetic usercentered ID perspective to more areas of design where ID has had less of an impact. In medical design, for instance “an engineering design approach is most often used, but that approach doesn’t always include some of the important areas of ID, like aesthetics and the emotional impact of design,” she says. Her favorite part of the design process is engaging with real-world users, and she advises new ID students to prioritize this interaction in their research as well. “To whatever extent you can, try to do real research,” she says. “I think a lot of students are rushed through projects, and so they do research by asking their friends to fill out surveys. Real insight comes from interacting with real users, who are likely not in your classes. Do research that involves real-life engagement with people from a range of ages and backgrounds, and your designs will be better.” Right: Caretask is a connected system of task reminders and information storage that helps home caregivers keep track of appointments, medication schedules, refills and medical data, designed by Kristi Bartlett, S/IDSA.
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Grace Budgett, S/IDSA | University of Washington
DESIGN + ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
recent graduate of the University of Washington (UW), Grace Budgett, S/IDSA, was raised in Southern California and England by parents who are both art professors. As such, “I’ve always been smudging, drawing, painting and thinking ‘critique,’” she notes. “But I began having a hard time identifying myself as an artist and aligning myself with the typical motivations of art when I was a teenager.” Budgett learned about industrial design when a friend at UW suggested she take an intro to design course, which she describes as “exciting” and “a great challenge. She was particularly taken by how much potential she saw in industrial design for its social and environmental impact. She realized that she didn’t have to abandon her original path in environmental science to focus on ID. On the contrary, she could integrate the two by using the values of environmental justice in her design practice. Her passion lies in thinking about how industrial design can make a huge impact on the large problems that people face, including climate change, displacement and social injustice. “The world needs a lot of heroes right now,” she asserts. “I’m not proclaiming to be one or to ever become one—I’m far from it—but I believe that industrial designers and designers as a whole can serve as cruxes in this difficult time for the change we need to see. It goes beyond environmental sustainability; design can impact social justice, failing infrastructure, public health, wage gaps, etc.” She approaches each problem with curiosity and an open mind. As part of her design philosophy, she believes that “everything needs to be really well intentioned and ultimately benefit the world.” The many designs Budgett has helped bring to fruition exemplify this ethos. They include Tempo, a smart monitoring system for at-home cardiac rehabilitation; the T1 Traveler, a holistic on-the-go system design for type 1 diabetics; and the JerryCarry, a pack board product system designed to aid the women who carry water over rough terrain in waterscarce regions like sub-Saharan Africa.
Budgett describes her design aesthetic as a “working, growing thing,” considering that she’s only been designing products for about three years now. She is drawn to emotive and simple aesthetics that play with materials and stress the details. At the same time, having mainly worked with consultancies up until this point, Budgett takes pride in being able to adapt her designs to a brand identity. Clients are essential to her design process, though she also enjoys working with teammates, participants and project managers to bring ideas to life. “Working with people, I’ve realized over time, is just as important to me as good research,” she says, adding that communication is at the heart of all of her designs. An area of design she is most interested in addressing currently is the issue of consumption, particularly “how products are designed to just go straight into the trash.” Budgett also sees that industrial design has a larger role to play in areas of the world where displacement is a problem, whether due to war or climate change. She sees design as having the potential to design new cities that help those who are displaced adapt to living in a new place and that help existing residents be more accepting of the newcomers. She believes that industrial designers need to look beyond the “physical manifestation of things and think about systematic design.” Looking into the future, she hopes to work with a design consultancy, excited by the range of projects they undertake, and wants to be a part of a forward-thinking group that is tackling difficult issues and providing hardwon solutions to long-term problems. “I’m both terrified and excited to gain an understanding of what kind of problems we’ll be facing in a decade,” she says. “Hopefully, I’ll be some part of the movement to adapt design and the way humans interact with our changing planet.” Right: The T1 Traveler gives those with type 1 diabetes the freedom to travel more lightly and with greater peace of mind with its compact case that houses all the necessary supplies and a companion app, designed by Grace Budgett, S/IDSA.
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Joshua Thorson, S/IDSA, | Academy of Art University
n industrial designer, runner, learner, maker, scifi lover and proud Minnesotan, Joshua Thorson, S/IDSA, is passionate about making future-proof products that enhance the human experience and protect the natural world. But he didn’t always think that he would be a designer himself. Raised in “a family full of engineers and technical degrees,” Thorson thought he would follow a similar path. “In grade school, I loved art classes and experimenting in different mediums,” he says, “but when I got to high school and started thinking about careers and whatnot, that all sort of fell by the wayside.” He started taking a lot of math and science courses, with his sights set on becoming a mechanical engineer. It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that his mom reminded him that he should be pursuing something he loved. Even with mechanical engineering, “it was the human factors and the artistry that got me going,” he explains. “I realized that industrial design was a field where I could dive deep into the big problems of the world and try to create something that an everyday consumer could get their hands on.” Thorson went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, and this May he earned his master’s in industrial design from Academy of Art University. Thorson’s design portfolio includes a biodegradable racing shoe for Nike, a NASA wristwatch for astronauts and consumers alike, and a modular furniture system designed to reduce furniture waste. All these projects are indicative of Thorson’s design aesthetic, which he describes in one word: essentialist. “I don’t try and distill something down to its minimalist core and leave it there,” he says, “but I do require every part of my design to justify its existence. Sometimes there’s a detail in a design that is purely there to spark joy— no function in the traditional sense—and to me that can be enough. So it’s functional without being sparse.” If he had to choose one area to focus his ID expertise, he says it would be establishing more open-source systems in the mass market. “When you publish your manufacturing plans and philosophy, you make products more reparable and longer lasting, but you also unlock the massive generative algorithm that is the human population,” Thorson
explains. “You give people a framework where they can experiment and fail and learn, and so by creating these open-source systems, you make sure the planet makes it into the next century and you bring the little guy along with.” Thorson is aware that humans are at the root of many of the world’s problems and that ID is often adjacent to and influences many of those problems that relate to waste and consumption. Therefore, he hopes to always stay focused on big-picture ideas and use his ID skills to address these issues wherever he can. His overarching goals are to feel knowledgeable enough to lead a design team—maybe his own design group—and have the ability to choose products that can make a real impact. “I’d also love to get involved teaching,” he adds. “I think the design education world is in the midst of rethinking how it develops young designers, and I’d love to be part of solving that conundrum.” Being a part of IDSA has been crucial to Thorson’s own development as a designer, opening him up to new experiences, professional contacts and different ways to create. “IDSA does a great job of putting on events in different cities that allowed me to meet both young and experienced designers,” he says. “I always walked away from those events with newfound excitement to get back to work and keep growing as a designer.” Though he is grateful for his ID education, Thorson advises other designers to think outside the classroom. “Although many of the best schools share the mentality that the more time you spend in the studio the better, I have to disagree,” he says. “Learning industrial design should be as efficient as you can, so make sure you’re not just putting in the time to say that you did.” “Always look for ways to improve faster, whether it’s a better warm-up routine, a faster drawing medium or even simply finding what medium you work best in,” he continues. “There’s no right way to get better, so you have to think critically about your own studies to make sure it’s right for you. If you can do that, you might actually have some free time to go outside and experience the problems you’re trying to design for.” Right: The summ modular furniture system addresses the furniture waste crisis by being customizable, made of sold materials and repairable, designed by Joshua Thorson, S/IDSA.
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S M A F I NAL I STS Adam Dock, S/IDSA Cleveland Institute of Art Design has truly become a passion that Adam Dock can’t imagine living without. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, he is a senior attending the Cleveland Institute of Art to pursue a career in industrial design. Every day he strives to learn something new and enjoys brainstorming, concepting and the collaborative aspects of design. He already has industry experience through internships at Moen and Hy-Ko Products. When not designing, he can be found rock climbing or exploring the freshest craft beer around the city.
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Alessia Espejo, S/IDSA The Ohio State University Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Alessia Espejo is the product of racial and cultural diversity. Her mother is American, and her father is British-Peruvian. This has colored the way she has chosen to live, interact and design. She believes that the power of diversity has affected her perspective on innovation. As an aspiring industrial designer, she believes that a product’s primary purpose is to contribute to improving people’s lives. She is driven to create informed designs, believing that solutions that combine elements of strategy and aesthetics prove to be more successful in solving a problem.
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Jenny Hu, S/IDSA Carnegie Mellon University Jenny Hu is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University studying product design and human-computer interaction. She can often be found in her design studio or the Morphing Matter Lab, building and thinking about the ways objects and people come together to make something new. She believes in design as a methodology to understand and act with the world around us, investigate our reality and create work that expands what we believe we are capable of.
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Rebekah Jerschina, S/IDSA International Center for Creativityâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Cedarville University Rebekah Jerschina was raised a wild child in Oregon, married a New Jersey city boy and moved to Germany. As a newly hatched designer, she believes design should be purposeful, human centric and simple. Her objective as a designer is to expand her creative skills through experiencing new places, learning from other people in fields different from her own, discovering new creative processes and stretching beyond her current normal. Design research and seamless knitting machines are her current obsessions.
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S M A F INAL I STS Nam Nguyen, S/IDSA College for Creative Studies Nam Nguyen is an industrial design student at the College for Creative Studies. Originally from Vietnam, he has lived in the US for 10 years and recently became a citizen. He has wide interest in every category of design because there is always something new to learn no matter what he is designing. His main focus is on the experiences and aesthetics of the design. Before design, he painted and did fine art, which is still one of his favorite hobbies and outlets for self-expression.
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Doug Oswald, S/IDSA Kendall College of Art & Design Born and raised in Midland, MI, Doug Oswald was a very inquisitive child and since junior high school has held a strong interest in the fine arts. This combination along with seeing an upperclassman share his design work online led to an interest in industrial design. A light flickered and after some searching, he came to study industrial design at the Kendall College of Art & Design. There he was able to pursue his interests and also utilize his inquisitive nature and artistic ability through class projects and internships at Steelcase Inc. and Chevron North America.
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Mariah Zambuto, S/IDSA Columbus College of Art & Design Mariah Zambuto is an industrial designer and researcher from Omaha, NE, studying at the Columbus College of Art & Design. Her favorite part of the design process is storytelling, making sure stories are heard, telling the story of a product and rewriting product stories to improve lives. Outside design, she stays busy by volunteering, boxing and being involved in her community.
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Samantha Bruening, S/IDSA Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design Samantha Bruening is a senior at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. The first time she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she knew she wanted to help people. In high school, she discovered industrial design, which met her passion for helping people. This has become her dream career. Through her hard work and passion, she earned industrial design internships with Generac Power Systems and GE Healthcare. She has been influenced by mentors who molded her into a passionate problem-solver and designer. After her GE Healthcare experience, she would like to pursue medical equipment and experience design.
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S M A F INAL I STS Thomas Groom, S/IDSA University of Illinois at Chicago Originally from Portsmouth in England, Thomas Groom now lives in Chicagoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but he still puts ketchup on his hotdogs! He is a double major in graphic and industrial design, with a minor in new media arts. He is obsessively interested in exploring the intersection of design, technology and the humanities. He loves looking at design through a speculative lens and has a keen interest in how design can be used as a tool to benefit the future of communities, society and humanity. He regularly finds inspiration in the work of Kenya Hara, Metahaven, and Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby.
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Jinny Kang, S/IDSA University of Illinois Urbanaâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Champaign Jinny Kang is a growing designer, enthusiastic about seeking opportunities to solve problems of any scale with an open mind. She is passionate about creating positive and impactful experiences for the user. Her process in design revolves around delivering a meaningful story, from the first encounter to the problem and then the final concept of the design. Using her skills, she hopes that her designs can translate problems into solutions.
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Colette Kocek, S/IDSA Iowa State University Colette Kocek was originally set on becoming a nurse, but a high school art teacher suggested she pursue industrial design. After learning more about it, she was thrilled to discover a field that combines both creative and technical thinking. Fast forward four years and she is a newly minted graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Industrial Design and a minor in sustainability. She is passionate about challenging the norm and designing for the problems people face every day. After graduation, she traveled to Thailand and Vietnam and plans to move to New York to pursue a career as a designer.
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Lindsey Meyers, S/IDSA University of Notre Dame Lindsey Meyers is a BFA student at the University of Notre Dame. As a designer, she is constantly seeking opportunities to utilize design methodologies in order to solve or improve current circumstances. A design approach often offers a novel solution or a new perspective to a complex problem. She is passionate about the projects she works on and believes that design outcomes are directly correlated to how the designer approaches the process.
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S M A F INAL I STS Audrey San Diego, S/IDSA University of Minnesota Growing up, Audrey San Diego loved math and science, leading her to pursue a bachelor’s in materials science and engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. In the future, she hopes to find a career path where she is able to be a hybrid, a bridge between the design and engineering worlds. When not in the studio working on an awesome project or writing lab reports, she likes to find amazing brunch places in the Twin Cities, travel and read Jane Austen novels.
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Blake Shermer, S/IDSA University of Wisconsin–Stout Blake Shermer is an industrial designer located at the University of Wisconsin–Stout who explores the function and development of future products. He believes that to develop a successful product, you first need to acknowledge the emotional connections users create in society to understand the users themselves. Once you pinpoint the reason users choose one product over another, you can then focus on the interaction the product creates.
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Sean Stumpf, S/IDSA University of Kansas As a young industrial designer, Sean Stumpf believes that the most important skill to have is empathy, being able to put oneself in the shoes of any individual and being able to see their needs. Over the last four years he has been working to develop this skill alongside traditional industrial design skills. With each product he designs, he tries to handle the problem-solving with same level of care and attention that is paid to the overall form and design details of the final product.
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Zach Weddle, S/IDSA Southern Illinois Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Carbondale Zach Weddle has loved tearing apart, modifying and building things since he was young. His only other comparable love is for drawing. These hobbies combined with an aptitude for mathematics led him to mechanical engineering, but it never felt like a perfect fit. He wanted to work on full systems and products with consideration for the user. After a few sleepless nights of Googling, he discover industrial design, a degree he had never heard of. Now, three years in, he can confidently say this seems like the perfect fit.
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S M A F INAL I STS Hubert Chen, S/IDSA Pratt Institute Hubert Chen is inspired by the beauty of the human experience, interactions and passion. By truly understanding peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s needs and experiences, he is able to design products with meaning and compassion. He seeks to constantly develop and hone his skills in integrating beauty and design.
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Karim Chen, S/IDSA Drexel University Karim Chen was born in Dubai to an Austrian mother and Chinese father, grew up in Bangkok and is now completing his Bachelor of Science in product design with a double minor in engineering product development and fine arts at Drexel University. His upbringing around several cultural backgrounds and environments has fueled his passion to keep exploring the world, gaining and creating new and meaningful experiences. He aims to use design to challenge and change peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perceptions and realities.
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Monica DeDomenico, S/IDSA University of the Arts Monica DeDemenico is an industrial designer whose main objective is to help people with their needs.
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Bongsu Jeong, S/IDSA University of Bridgeport Bongsu Jeong was born in Korea. After finishing his military service, he majored in industrial design at Konkuk University in Korea. He is currently studying industrial design at Bridgeport University and thinks design is the bridge of the future toward a better life. This belief is why he chose industrial design as a career path. He is designing for the future, and it is his dream to solve problems through industrial design.
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S M A F I NAL I STS
Emily Monath, S/IDSA Jefferson University Emily Monath is a senior in industrial design at Jefferson University. Aside from being a full-time student, she is currently the secretary of the Jefferson IDSA Student Chapter and is on the deanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s list. Art has always been her outlet for creative energy. One of her favorite aspects of industrial design is the ability it has to fulfill both her artistic and technical needs. When she is not immersed in design, she enjoys baking gluten-free and vegan desserts, spending time with family at the shore and listening to podcastsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;she swears by Stuff You Should Know.
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Nicole Nassif, S/IDSA Wentworth Institute of Technology Nicole Nassif is a senior industrial design student at Wentworth Institute of Technology. She has experience in the automotive, medical device, footwear and apparel, and consumer goods fields from co-ops at Stoneridge, the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, the NOBULL Project and Eleven. She is an advocate for sustainable, purposeful design with a focus on exceptional user experience and storytelling. Before beginning her studies, she was a competitive Irish step dancer for over a decade, an avid mock trial lawyer and a nationally ranked short track speed skater. In her (presently rare) free time, she enjoys learning languages and writing lampoons.
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Evalina Patiño, S/IDSA Parsons School of Design at The New School Evalina Patiño is a New York City–based industrial designer pursuing a degree in product design at the Parsons School of Design. She is primarily interested in social issues and using industrial design as a way to understand complex societal problems. To her, industrial design has always been bigger than itself and a tool to do things that supersede the limits of what is considered design. Her creative process is mainly guided by relentless iteration—led by the belief that through repetition she can achieve the best design because it gives her the opportunity to explore all the formal opportunities and limitations.
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Daniel Shapiro, S/IDSA Rochester Institute of Technology Daniel Shapiro is a senior industrial design student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. A passion of his is electric vehicles. He currently serves as the design officer of RIT’s Electric Vehicle Team where he is able to lead holistic design solutions. He enjoys collaborating with teams of diverse backgrounds to create products that leverage emotion and intuition to create better user experiences.
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S M A F I NAL I STS Daniel Smelansky, S/IDSA Massachusetts College of Art and Design Daniel Smelansky was born in Belarus and immigrated to the United States when he was two years old. He was introduced to graphic design in high school, which led him to pursue industrial design in college. Now he is figuring out how to formulate a creative practice that can sustain him economically while leaving space to experiment. In the design realm, he leans toward research and strategy with a love for illustration, storytelling and speculative design.
N O R TH EA S T
Rebecca Yeh, S/IDSA Syracuse University Rebecca Yeh is a fifth-year undergraduate student at Syracuse University double majoring in industrial/interaction design and psychology. Her specific interests in design are UI/UX design and data-driven design. In her spare time, she enjoys baking and making UI animations using Adobe After Effects. Her goals in the future are to incorporate different quantitative methods into design research and to use 3D printing methods to create beautiful cake designs.
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Kristin Andreassen, S/IDSA Georgia Institute of Technology Kristin Andreassen has always been fascinated by people and culture, art and creativity, and problems and solutions. As an industrial designer, she gets to explore her fascinations and directly impact people through her work. Her goal is to design solutions for all people, work on problems with unique resource constraints and develop solutions to make life easier so people can focus on living.
Gregory Borbon, S/IDSA Virginia Institute of Technology Gregory Borbon believes in bringing representation through his work. It is through this mission that he is able to shed a light onto the perspectives and stories of people who are often overlooked. For a long time, he felt that someone like him wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t represented, especially in design, so he wanted to become that representation for others. His story often has moments where he is invited to have a seat at the table, and he wants to make sure to use those platforms and shake things up.
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S M A F I NAL I ST S Michael Bridgers, S/IDSA Auburn University Michael Bridgers, originally from Marietta, GA, is an industrial design student at Auburn University. He is a purpose-driven individual with a constant focus on creating change and making the world a little bit better with everything he does. His goal as a designer is to create things that are purposefully made to improve peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives and to make a long-lasting impact on them. He strives to make things that solve problems bigger than himself and to make things that make people happy.
Poppy Crawshaw, S/IDSA James Madison University It took Poppy Crawshaw a while to find industrial design at James Madison University. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t until she happened to stumble into the studio and thread a sewing machine that she knew she had to pursue her passion for making. Flash forward two years, she is sitting at her desk, daydreaming and still threading sewing machines. Her peers recognize her as a leader and a zealous personality. She aims to bring sincerity to design and wants her greatest design to be a meaningful life for herself and others.
Luke Giduz, S/IDSA Appalachian State University Luke Giduz is an industrial design student at Appalachian State University. He finds joy in design by removing the mundane from everyday products. He seeks to apply his passions of problem-solving, stylizing and brand identity to a company that produces products people use in their daily lives.
Victoria Roux, S/IDSA University of Louisiana at Lafayette Victoria Roux is an industrial designer and photographer from Mandeville, LA. In May 2019 she graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a 4.0 GPA. As a student she was a member and former vice president of ULâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s IDSA Student Chapter. Since 2016, she has run her own photography business. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and rock climbing.
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S M A F I NAL I STS Peter Rozakis, S/IDSA North Carolina State University Peter Rozakis is an undergraduate industrial design student devoted to solving problems and improving experiences in creative ways. He is constantly enthusiastic about sketching, building, modeling and thinking through the project at hand. He works flexibly and efficiently with a strong focus on process.
Noah Young, S/IDSA Savannah College of Art and Design Noah Young, originally from Pewaukee, WI, is an industrial design student at the Savannah College of Art and Design with a minor in design for sustainability. He loves to physically create things, from woodworking and metalworking to working with foam. Through his designs, he wants to improve peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives, even if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s as simple as improving their overall experience with everyday objects. He aims to create products that are innovative but not over-designed. Through sustainable materials and responsible design, he hopes to improve not only this generation but also the generations that follow.
Masaru Kiyota, S/IDSA University of Oregon Masaru Kiyota is an industrial design student born in Beijing, China, and raised in Yokohama, Japan. He always had a strong desire to become a painter until he became aware of and obsessed with industrial design. After graduating from a high school in Japan, he moved to Oregon to pursue a degree in material and product studies at the University of Oregon. On account of his hard work, he achieved an honorable scholarship and now works as a studio assistant at the University of Oregon.
Miranda Lapour, S/IDSA ArtCenter College of Design Miranda Lapour has a lot of big ideas about how design can shift paradigms and forge ahead into a future that embraces creativity as a critical component for success. These ideas have launched her into projects with NASA robotics engineers, international business executives and trailblazers in the nonprofit sector. Each step of her journey has informed an ethos prioritizing sustainable practice socially, ecologically and economically. Thinking big helps her excel in research, strategy and concept design. She believes that designers should insist on a seat at the table where critical decisions are made to design a future made for everyone.
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S M A F I NAL I STS Matt Marchand, S/IDSA San Jose State University Matt Marchand is a senior industrial design student at San Jose State University. He is actively engaged in learning through life experiences and using simple solutions to make great things. His design is focused on holistic, sustainable products that make life better for people using them. He loves attention to detail and delightful experiences. In his spare time, he enjoys petting animals, surfing with his friends and getting into trouble while travelling with his wife. He has been struck by lightning and bitten by a monkey, but still doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have any superpowers. He aspires to work with passionate forward-thinking people making meaningful products.
Elijah Selch, S/IDSA Western Washington University Elijah Selch is a student of industrial design at Western Washington University where he tries to make things that lastâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;aesthetically and functionally. He believes we should be designing for the long term. In his free time, he enjoys watercolor sketching and mountain biking.
Brian Skeet, S/IDSA Arizona State University Brian Skeet is an indigenous (DinĂŠ) designer attending Arizona State Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Herberger School for Design and the Arts. He specializes in graphic design and product design. He hopes to reach out to indigenous communities, especially to the youth, to use design to rekindle the power and strength they already possess. He strives to be a designer that focuses on inclusivity, empathizes with the user, pushes innovation and empowers community engagement.
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2 0 1 9F ISMA NAL I ST JUDG S ES
Aaron Scott, IDSA
Associate Professor of Design Southern Illinois University
ClayVon Lowe, IDSA Industrial Designer Lowe’s Home Improvement
Dean Bacalzo, IDSA Assistant Professor Arizona State University
Partner & Executive Creative Director ICON Design
Director of Technology Design Services New Deal Design
CMF Designer Newell Brands
Industrial Designer & Founder grouphug
Michael Rall, IDSA
Mike Elwell, IDSA
Sarah Brand, IDSA
Julie Connors, IDSA
Senior Designer Nike
Assistant Professor of ID Appalachian State University
Shawn Egan, IDSA
Industrial Designer Branch Creative
Senior Industrial Designer Google
Innovation Specialist Maple Hill Engineering
Director Richmond Inst. of Design & Innovation
Todd Kauranen, IDSA
Sr. Industrial Designer & Creative Lead DISHER
Industrial Designer Georgia-Pacific
Adam Feld, IDSA
Assistant Professor of ID University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Leo Chen, IDSA
Jon Moroney, IDSA
Professor & ID Program Chair Kendall College of Art & Design
Morris Koo, IDSA
Karen Stone, IDSA Director of Design Knoll
Raja Schaar, IDSA
Founder & Creative Director Shifter Design
Master Industrial Designer HP Advanced Design
Assistant Professor of Product Design Drexel University
Tim Hulford, IDSA
Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA
Verena Paepcke-Hjeltness, IDSA
Creative Director of ID Intuitive Surgical
Industrial Design Innovator
Lauren McDermott, IDSA Associate Professor of Design Arizona State University
Sunny Su, IDSA
Chief of Innovation, Design, & Strategy ParadigmID
Associate Professor of Practice in Design The University of Texas at Austin
Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to thank these design practitioners and educators who volunteered their time to serve as judges of this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s SMA and GSMA program. Each judge was responsible for reviewing portfolio material submitted by students and identifying top talent among a very competitive crowd. Their dedication and commitment to the next generation of design talent is an invaluable resource to our community. Thank you!
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S O C I A L R E SPO NSI B I L I T Y
EMPTY BOWLS: TEACHING STUDENTS LEADERSHIP, EMPATHY AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
earning and mastering the skills to make ceramic bowls, cooking 30 gallons of soup, organizing an event for 300 people, holding contests, selecting the best-designed event t-shirts, selling the bowls and raising money for a cause to feed hungry kids. That doesn’t sound like a class you could take for credit at a university, but this is exactly what happens in the Empty Bowls course taught in the Industrial Design program at Virginia Tech. For the last six years, Martha Sullivan, an assistant professor of practice in the Industrial Design program at Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design, has taught a ceramics course she calls Empty Bowls. “The academic goals,” Sullivan explains, “include designing and producing soup bowls,” but the learning objectives for this class reach further. About students in this course, she says, “The work they make in this class is a final product, no longer stuck on their desks in drawings and scale models like many of their studio projects.” That makes an impact on the students. “It’s a lot of fun making these bowls and seeing them [collecting] in neatly arranged rows at the back of the pottery studio,” says Amanda, a third-year industrial design student. A significant aspect of this hands-on class is the idea that learners feel a sense of agency in their work, that they have a stake in resolving real-life issues. Similar to any other ceramics class, in an Empty Bowls class students learn
techniques to make fine pottery through repetition, except here it results in a volume of work that enables them to raise a significant amount of money for a local grassroots organization/movement that is working to alleviate food insecurity in local areas. In the case of Virginia Tech’s ID class, this organization is Micah’s Backpack. The bowls students make raise money to provide a backpack full of food intended to take care of a child’s needs for a whole week. The grassroots organization distributes these foodfilled backpacks to needy students in local area schools. Empty Bowls is not an isolated phenomenon; it is a national movement organized by potters and artisans. Incorporating this movement into a classroom setting provides an opportunity to develop a unique pedagogy. “This is a great opportunity to develop skills in producing ceramic products in such a way that we can make a positive impact on the community with our design work,” says Sullivan. Throughout the semester, all 35 students enrolled in the Empty Bowls undergraduate class, now in its seventh year, do a bit more than just make empty bowls. They participate in planning the event, designing posters and screen printing them. They even make event t-shirts. And it is the students who cook the more than 30 gallons of soup for the event to serve their target audience of 300 people.
“In a different scenario, it would be easy for students to take the bowls around town and sell them, more like the scouts’ cookie boxes, but that is not what I intended to do,” says Sullivan. “I wanted the students to actually work with their hands and also be proud that they could serve, realizing the motto of our school, Ut Prosum (“That I May Serve”).” On the day of the event, students and faculty prepare large batches of soups, bread, cookies and lemonade. They find hot plates and large cauldrons to cook the soups, a mix of vegetarian, nonvegetarian and vegan. “Even though tickets are sold in advance for the event, a huge line can be seen outside the venue on the day of the event,” says a former student who took the class. The large hall is laid out like a charity gala with round tables. Dressed in aprons, students stand next to their soup cauldrons, ready to serve. A separate table showcases all the bowls students made throughout the semester. As guests proceed through the line, they first choose their bowl; each bowl costs $12. Then they walk over to the soup tables where they fill up their newly acquired bowl and grab some bread, a cookie for later and a drink. Next, they sit around the table sipping their soup while talking to their friends. Oftentimes, a band or two volunteers to play. It becomes a social get together of sorts. You can take as many servings of soup as you want, try
different ones too, and once you are done, you wash your bowl, slip it in your bag and carry it home, all to help provide food to a child in need. Imagine the social impact if studio courses like Empty Bowls could be multiplied across the university, giving students from different disciplines the opportunity to contribute. Suddenly the few thousand bowls created since the project’s inception become tens of thousands of bowls, and the money raised to alleviate hunger grows exponentially more powerful. Imagine if this could be multiplied across ID programs throughout the country. —Manisha Sharma, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org Born and raised in India, Manisha Sharma is a creative writer and interdisciplinary collaborator and is passionate about issues of social impact. Published in the Design Observer, Huffington Post and others, her work is forthcoming in Choice Words: Writers on Abortion and The Arkansas Review. A Vermont Studio Center merit scholarship recipient, Sharma earned an MFA from Virginia Tech. She teaches English and yoga at New River Community College in Virginia.
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HA N D S-O N L E AR NI NG
IDSA’S IN-SITU LABORATORY WORKSHOPS
DSA’s commitment to supporting the medical design profession has been growing. For five years now as part of our Medical Design event series, IDSA has hosted a number of interactive professional development courses at advanced hospital simulation centers. Initially spearheaded by Sean Hägen, IDSA, our in-situ workshop classes have now become a foundational fixture of our medical-focused events, and several members and organizations have joined the program to share their knowledge in this unique educational setting. This just one example of how IDSA leverages the expertise of our membership community to provide rich learning opportunities for participants wishing to improve their skills and advance their professional abilities. Over the years, the topics covered have been varied, but at the core of these sessions has been an emphasis on experiential learning. Here are just a few of the events we’ve held: Contextual Inquiry in the Healthcare Ecosystem In this comprehensive overview course, led by Hägen, principle of BlackHägen Design, participants learned how to plan, execute and analyze contextual inquiry methodology in a clinical environment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the International Electrotechnical Commission have recognized the inherent value of contextual inquiry as an integral part of developing medical devices, so this methodology is a key component during the generative concept and feasibility phases of a product. Beyond an overview of the process presented in a classroom, participants applied this methodology in a high-fidelity simulated operating room where actors performed a surgery. The class divided into groups to take turns applying their newly learned skills and then debrief on what they observed. The surrogate clinicians were scripted to portray certain use errors so learners could discover patterns of behavior analogous to a real-life site visit in a hospital.
The Role of the Industrial Designer in Formative Studies This half-day workshop, facilitated by Amrish Chourasia, a human factors engineer at Delve, and Michael Hammond, IDSA, the director of industrial design at Delve, focused on building empathy for the FDA’s expectations as well as understanding the perspective of the human factors engineer and the role of the industrial designer in formative studies. After a presentation and discussion of theory, process and best practices in a classroom setting, attendees practiced their newly learned skills by participating in two types of formatives, one conducted in the simulation lab and another conducted in a lower-fidelity environment, using medical mannequins and other equipment to approximate real-world situations. Unlocking New Value through Experience Mapping Geared to healthcare and design professionals responsible for the delivery of the overall patient experience, this workshop gave participants the practical tools and methods needed to identify unmet needs, frame opportunities for new value creation and deliver compelling experiences for patients and other caregivers. It was led by Jonathan Dalton and Trent Kahute co-founders of THRIVE, an IDSA Ambassador. Through observation of a simulated childbirth, participants witnessed the stages of active labor, transition labor, pushing, birth, delivery of the placenta and early recovery. The workshop then introduced THRIVE’s system of experience mapping for healthcare services and medical procedures. Participants used contextual inquiry, experience mapping and opportunity identification to frame opportunities for new value creation and delivering compelling experiences for patients and other caregivers. Top right: Participants discuss a customer journey map that visualizes the complexity of a medical proceedure. Bottom right: Actors simulate a medical proceedure in a high-fidelity simulated operating room setting.
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CO L L A B OR AT I O N
LIFE AS A FOX: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO DESIGN EDUCATION
thrive on unique learning experiences. I always have. At 18 years old I decided to take a chance on a brand-new degree program that combined industrial design with all the engineering disciplines. It was a tough slog, but I made it through and was incredibly grateful for skill development that went beyond what I thought was possible for me. The experience empowered me so much that I went on to earn a PhD in mechanical engineering from the same university. Oh, and then a postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience and biomechanics. I’ve always bounced around, trying to make connections between different fields on a mission to find answers to complex problems. That does come at a price though—few people see the value in a non-siloed researcher. I seem flaky. Fast forward a few years. I am sitting on a panel for the formation of Syracuse University’s Autonomous Systems and Policy Institute, and the keynote speaker starts talking about Isaiah Berlin’s essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” I realize that after all these years of feeling inadequate because I did not follow a one-discipline path, I might be on to something important. I am a fox in an age when being a hedgehog is limiting. A fox, unlike a hedgehog, views problems from various approaches gathered through diverse experiences. We are thoughtful and agile. We like to ruffle some feathers and seek to make connections where there might not seem to be one. We are not single disciplined like the hedgehog— we are interdisciplinary thinkers. Multidisciplinary Collaborations in the Studio I see the industrial designers I teach as foxes in training, so I try to expose them to as many learning experiences as possible.
Designing with a dose of science. My engineering and scientific training often floods into my human factors studio. Human factors is a highly multidisciplinary subject area that lends itself well to my experiment-driven teaching approach. The remit of the course it to teach designers about physiology and perception to better understand human ability. I like to expose students to scientific research as another lens to understanding how quantitative and qualitative research methods will give valuable insight. We’ll regularly read research papers in a journal-club format and critically assess methods, results and study limitations. My students and I will typically ask each other why multiple times during conversations about these readings to uncover merits of the approach or limitations in the results. I also employ this in a critique, for example, “You selected that material because it feels good. Why?” We keep moving down the chain of why until we arrive at an explanation about the mechanics of touch perception. Hearing students use the correct scientific terms is rewarding, as was the time students made the connection that waveform stimuli are what allow us to perceive light, sound and tactile stimulation. All experiments are written up in the same format as the academic journal papers they read, and then they teach what they learn back to the class. This differs slightly from the traditional design, research, write-up method, yet it still reinforces the key written skills of objectivity and third-person narrative. One such write-up described how the students conducted usability experiments for the first time with vacuum cleaners, running through concurrent and retroactive, talking aloud and probing methods. They learned a lot about how users perform certain cleaning tasks with the numerous attachments we all either lose or look puzzled over. The studio has never looked cleaner!
Designing for autism spectrum disorder. I have previously partnered with neuroscientists, occupational therapists and a children’s science and technology museum to help students understand sensory processing disorders (SPD) that are commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. The designers spent multiple weeks understanding how over- and underactive sensory systems change one’s relationship with the world. Almost instantly, they became deeply committed to finding a way to make children’s lives better. I like this project because it makes students uncomfortable. They are afraid to say anything insensitive. They are not sure what language to use to describe what they refer to as “symptoms of SPD” and are anxious to not make assumptions. This was particularly important as experiences with ASD and SPD are heterogeneous. As luck would have it, the students are guided by a suite of experts who assist then in finding interesting, unique primary data. For example, Reddit forums can be a marvelous resource if you ask the right question in the right way. The brief was very open—identify a problem and design to help solve it—and is one of the first open projects the students will have had so far. The solutions vary from an adaptive noise cancelling beanie to an arts and crafts kit that allows parents to pick colors their children are not averse to. At the conclusion of the project, the experts are given the process book to review and give feedback on the designs. They have been impressed by the depth of research and unique perspectives on helping to improve a child’s experience of the world. Designing for manufacture with mechanical engineering students. I capitalized on that rare opportunity where you get to design a class to fill out your teaching load by creating a CAD class that focused on parametric modelling and understanding simulations for testing the manufacturability of designed products. The difference with the class is that it was open to ID students and mechanical and aerospace engineering students, and I had an aerospace engineer as a teaching assistant. This was their first exposure to working in multidisciplinary teams in a simple disassembly project. The teams modeled every part, created the assembly and 3D printed the output. It was great to see the engineering students teaching the designers about tolerance and fit, and how lucky they were that they didn’t learn geometric tolerancing! I also proctor the SolidWorks Mechanical Design Associate exam, of which we have close to a 100% pass rate. I saw that designers typically like to spend a great deal of time modeling in CAD. I taught them quick iteration through design tables and equations to simulate the pace
of industry. Two instructions I gave for every assignment that will haunt them every time they open up a new part file: rename your features and fully define all sketches. I might just ask you to change a dimension quickly to recalculate the mass, and the last thing you want to see is the model collapse as soon as you make a change. You’ll be working all night to fix it and get me the new mass. Consulting for Other Academic Units I have limited experience as a practicing designer, so I am hesitant to pair my teaching with industry clients. Instead, I look for opportunities to partner with other academic units on campus so my students can experience the nature of the consultant-client relationship. Exhibition design. I always try to blend visualization skills with written and verbal communication skill development. This academic year my students have had the opportunity to act as human factors consultants for two projects. One of the projects is assessing sensorial and accessibility design strategies employed in an exhibition proposal for the United Nations. This collaboration with students in communication design, environmental and interior design, and museum studies master’s students gives the industrial designers the opportunity to be part of a larger multidisciplinary conversation. My students work only from the information they are given, which includes concepts, narratives, plans and elevations, posters and interactive elements of the exhibition. Their objective is to succinctly communicate their recommendations to the design team and give them a path to achieving them. They will need to put all the theory they have learned so far into action on a real client assignment. Medical device design. The biomedical engineering capstone class from the College of Engineering and Computer Science will be working with my industrial designers this year. Their briefs range widely from sensory prosthetics and catheters to breast pumps for working mothers and devices for use in neonatal intensive care units. I am serving as an adviser to one team (sensory prosthetics) and am working with the capstone director to bring the two disciplines closer together to discuss research methods and product development. The designers will give each group a report detailing their recommendations for cognitive walkthroughs, usability testing methods and the design process. Both groups are excited to learn from each other, and I hope this interest in respective disciplines will continue. There is even interest from other students beyond my class who want to collaborate and help with product development. Learning from peers, especially when they come from a different discipline, can be a powerful experience. I am
INNOVATION WINTER 2019
CO L L A B OR AT I O N happy that I can find other professors across campus who also want to create these learning experiences for students. It is certainly more work on the professors to make the union successful, but it is worth the effort to see these connections made. Creating Opportunities Beyond the Studio Research became a career option for me because I was surrounded by interesting academics as an undergraduate. I spent a great deal of time participating in research studies that blended design and engineering methodologies and talking to the PhD students conducting them. I was enthralled! Funding research opportunities for undergraduates. As a researcher rather than a design practitioner, much of my time is spent hunting down money to fund experiments. Syracuse University has invested heavily in recent years to offer seed funds through competitive internal calls for proposals. I have had the good fortune of acquiring funds to hire designers as research assistants in projects that range from material development to researching lifecycle assessment tools and creating material exchange programs in the school. One student presented work at an international engineering conference as a result of her assistantship. I was so proud to see her communicating her findings with engineering professors from all over the globe and see her delight in meeting engineers from NASA. Independent research study and teaching students to write grants. Syracuse University has also begun to heavily invest in student research. Any undergraduate can apply for money to conduct research or produce creative work. I enjoy working with students who want to write a grant proposal. Often, they are intimidated by the grant writing process and need a little more support to get started. We’ll often sit down and work out a plan of attack to address their research questions, and we’ll co-author the proposal documents late into the evenings, watching each other type and add comments. It is good fun to co-write with my design students! They have probing questions and ambitious plans to reach their goal. The program will have many thesis students heading to professional conferences, places of research interest all over the globe to collect data, and studios with the materials they need to make the idea a reality. Invent@SU. I am the program lead of a summer invention accelerator program at Syracuse University. This initiative is a partnership between the College of Engineering
and Computer Science and the College of Visual and Performing Arts. I teach as part of a design and engineering duo. Undergraduates from any discipline can apply to spend six weeks developing a need-based invention that can be patented. We blend engineering and design methodologies alongside intensive presentation coaching to enable any student team to pitch for $5,000 at the program conclusion. We have many industrial designers apply every year with marvelous success, not just in competitive winnings in multiple regional and national start-up competitions but also in developing their communication and physical prototyping skills. We encourage multidisciplinary pairings, and often the designers choose to work with a non-designer. I love those pairings! It takes a little time to break down the perceived discipline barrier, but when they do, they really celebrate what each member brings to the team. The Invent@SU professorial team is looking to research the outcomes of this program and hopefully experiment with an in-credit experience with a similar format. It is a pedagogical playground for me. I can experiment with different teaching styles depending on the disciplines in the team and work out how to best support different learning styles. Everything I learn from creating these unique teaching experiences accelerates my ability to be a stronger educator and scholar. There is so much that designers can learn from other disciplines. Introducing them to this mindset in the studio seems to be the best place to start. I plan to keep encouraging designers who might be looking to take the same interdisciplinary path I did to embrace it. True to my fox nature, I’ll certainly keep trying out new interdisciplinary learning experiences in the studio. —Louise R Manfredi, PhD email@example.com Dr. Louise Manfredi has been an assistant professor of industrial and interaction design at Syracuse University since 2017. She is a new appointed faculty fellow of the Syracuse University Center of Excellence and is the current program lead of the Invent@SU student accelerator program. She has two research focuses: (1) sustainable material testing, development and adoption and (2) exploring methods to improve the working relationship between designers and STEM practitioners. Top right: Students prototyping in the Invent@SU lab. Bottom right: ID students video calling with neuroscientist Dr. Russo about their design for children with sensory processing disorders.
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