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22 Beautiful Ends, 30 What Are Your Design Extraordinary Means Beliefs? by Prasad Boradkar, IDSA by Gretchen Gscheidle, IDSA, Guest Editor 26 This Will Really Burn You Up! 32 1. Human Centered by Jack Kelley, L/IDSA and Joe Schwartz; Jordan Bahler, IDSA

34 2. Purposeful by Gianfranco Zaccai, FIDSA; Hannah Duffy, IDSA

36 3. Integrity by Studio 7.5; Kevin Terwilliger, IDSA

by Byron Bloch, IDSA

52 The Compassion Project: Using Empathy as a Means to Understand Design Thinking by John K Caruso, IDSA and


4 IDSA HQ 38 4. Original 6 From the Editor by Don Chadwick; Jason Tropp

by Mark Dziersk, FIDSA

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9 Business Concepts

42 6. Sustainable by Matthew Stares; Travis Andren, IDSA

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16 A Look Back by Carroll Gantz, FIDSA 46 8. Spirited 20 Beautility by Steve Frykholm; by Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA Benjamin Bush, IDSA 25 Corrections 48 9. Beyond Expectations 58 Showcase by Tim Straker; 64 Signposts Vijay Chakravarthy, IDSA by Alistair Hamilton, IDSA 50 10. Inevitable by Laura Guido-Clark; Philippe Duvall Craig Mackiewicz, IDSA

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Left: This is one of Steve Frykholm’s favorite photos from the Herman Miller archive. In 1962 Charles and Ray Eames won the competition to design the seating for Chicago’s new O’Hare Airport. As well as pictures of the product in use, they also took this spontaneous and whimsical photo. See p. 46.

QUarTerlY oF THe INDUSTrIal DeSIGNerS SocIeTY oF aMerIca innOVAtiOn Design Beliefs

Design Beliefs copper





winter 2013

winter 2013

Cover photo: 17th-Century Drawing of a Compass Rose by Blaue/Corbis Images

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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. ©2013 Industrial Designers Society of America. Vol. 32, No. 4, 2013; Library of Congress Catalog No. 82-640971; ISSN No. 0731-2334; USPS 0016-067.

c3 2014 IDEA 5 2014 IDSA District Conferences 1 Luxion c4 LUNAR c2 Solid Thinking


“This has been a great opportunity for me to meet with students and industry thought leaders to share our leadership’s vision for IDSA’s future.

—Daniel Martinage

Dan Martinage’s Recent Outreach Efforts



usiness travel can be exhausting, but for Daniel Martinage, executive director of IDSA, keeping up with design students at Kendall College, Rochester Institute of Design (RIT) and Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) was exhilarating. An association executive by trade, Martinage is learning about the industrial design profession through IDSA members, and who better to be inspired by but the up and coming generation.

Shortly after returning from IDSA’s successful International Conference in Chicago, Martinage presented at the IDEA Brazil ceremonies followed by a trip to western Michigan to tour design facilities at Herman Miller, Whirlpool, Steelcase and Haworth. Hosted by John Berry, IDSA, Martinage answered questions at the Design West Michigan event (top right) where, among other things, the National Endowment for the Arts report “Valuing the Art of Industrial Design” was highlighted. He toured the Material ConneXion space at Kendall College and discussed his vision for IDSA in the coming years with students. His next stop was RIT’s Thought at Work conference (bottom right) where he was motivated by the energy of the industrial and interaction design students who organize this popular northeast annual event. The following month Martinage found himself at SCAD with the very talented design students and faculty in Savannah (above). Rounding out his recent travels, Martinage met with executives at The Henry Ford, a major collaborator with IDSA on the IDEA competition; met with the Society of the Plastics Industry to investigate new relationships with this industry-leading association; and attended the recent DMI leadership conference in Boston. Coming full circle with an international perspective, Martinage and IDSA Chair Charles Austen Angell, IDSA attended the annual Icsid Congress in Montreal where they met with other global design leaders. n


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esign is often acknowledged as an independent and free-spirited world where the mind can do amazing things in a space without limits, a place where creatives can develop new and original ideas from nothing. The phrase “creative freedom” is usually thought to be music to a designer’s ear, and empowers the thought process, enabling the designer to consider all possibilities in an open landscape. It can be widely assumed that innovators embrace the unknown and do their best work when the limits are boundless and the potential wide open. People often think the greatest innovations come from a special place where a brilliant mind, or minds, working free from constraints suddenly achieves an aha moment and—poof—out comes a new invention. Certainly we can name many of the great design innovations that have resulted from this process. Or can we? Did Thomas Edison work this way? Maybe Charles and Ray Eames? Actually, they did not. As counterintuitive as it might seem, innovation comes from a world of paradox—a world where it is constraint that sparks the genius of the designer, where the pressure of limits and demands provides a combustible combination of direction and inspiration. Take for example the Eames’ classic Powers of Ten movie, which in 15 minutes describes the relative size of all things in the known universe. It demonstrates the infinite inspiration that can be drawn from reviewing our universe with the lens of increasing and decreasing powers of 10. The constraint (or construct) of this telescoping perspective makes this remarkable movie and design achievement possible. Charles


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Eames was known to call constraints “liberating.” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer agrees; writing for a business journal recently she concluded, “Constraints shape and focus problems, and provide clear challenges to overcome as well as inspiration. Creativity loves constraints, but they must be balanced with a healthy disregard for the impossible.” Herman Miller has developed and follows a set of 10 tenets for design that it believes increases innovation. The lasting success of Herman Miller suggests that great innovation comes from the tension between a well-developed set of constraints and the limitless creative mind. In fact, designers not under the Herman Miller umbrella also believe that design constraints provided by the company improve results. In 1977, Nicholas Grimshaw, an architect, discussed the recently completed Herman Miller manufacturing facility in Bath, England. According to him, the excellence of the facility could never have been achieved without the poetry and constraints in the design brief provided to him by Herman Miller. The building was recognized by the Financial Times as the best industrial building of the year. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the world’s greatest architects, also observed this phenomenon at work in the world: “Man built most nobly when limitations were at their greatest.” In the last decade we have seen Samsung push its design and innovation to new heights. Its new design campus in Korea is a major capital investment in the belief in design and its relationship to innovation. The company did not make these improvements in a vacuum. Samsung has

© Frederick Clifford Gibson, Architect.

“In art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows, and when there remains an energy that is all the stronger for being constrained, controlled and compressed.” —Henri Matisse

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“I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do.

One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out. —Jeff Bezos

imposed constraints on itself in the form of design criteria: that design and innovation should be simple and intuitive, efficient and long-lasting, and adaptive and engaging. IBM also innovates within a self-imposed structure of constraints used to drive design. The company considers it “a framework for the freedom to act.” Virgin Atlantic does not have a specific design process, but it has instituted a structure to ensure that the constraints of time and budget are always met. Crown, the award-winning forklift manufacturer, leads the industry through a commitment to design innovation. It does so through an approach that focuses on the humanto-forklift relationship. Crown’s innovation comes from designing within the constraints presented by the human operator. Through advanced research and a dedicated focus on the capabilities of operators, the company is able to create the most advanced ideas for operator productivity and safety and product lifespan. Crown sets the industry standard for the highest capacities and productivity speeds. In addition to company success, singular examples of great design in response to constraint can be found everywhere. The Leveraged Freedom Chair is an excellent example. Amos Winter, assistant professor in mechanical engineering at MIT, wanted to tackle the problem of wheelchair design for the developing world, especially in rural areas. After speaking with organizations working to provide wheelchairs, he became aware of the following constraints: the final product must be sold for under $200, it must travel up to 5 kilometers a day on varied terrain, it must be usable indoors, and it must be locally repairable. The big innovation in the Freedom Chair is the lever system. Rather than propelling themselves by rotating the wheels, users move forward, up and over difficult terrain with the two hand levers. Torque and angular velocity are controlled by grabbing the levers at different heights. He also created very simple chair

assembly from single-speed bicycle parts that you can get anywhere. The Leveraged Freedom Chair met seemingly impossible constraints, revolutionized the wheelchair and has greatly improved the lives of all who use it. By imposing constraints on wheelchair design, Winter was forced to rethink wheelchair technology that had basically gone unchallenged for over 100 years. Herman Miller, like Winter, realizes that a rational structure for design actually propels innovation forward. Constraints do not have to be obstacles, but can in fact provide a launching pad for creative thought and direction. It is as much about one’s attitude toward the things that seem restrictive as the restrictions themselves. If seen as obstacles or innovation killers, then the designer’s mind will most likely feel restricted, blocking the flow of creative ideas. If embraced as guidelines and unique challenges to provide focused inspiration, the designer’s mind will remain open. Eames knew this: “I don’t remember being forced to accept compromises, but I’ve willingly accepted constraints.” This issue of Innovation is organized around interpretations of Herman Miller’s 10 tenets, expertly assembled by Herman Miller’s director of insight and exploration, Gretchen Gscheidle, IDSA. Gretchen has gathered a remarkable collection of content, given the need to work within the varied and tight schedules of the many authors and the additional constraint of Innovation’s Winter deadline. Innovation is very grateful to Gretchen and to Herman Miller for this effort, and for publicly sharing these tenets, really for the first time, to a wide audience. In addition to the viewpoints the writers experienced in acting on these constraints, Innovation asked young designers to evaluate each ideal from their point of view. We hope you enjoy this juxtaposition. Who knows, perhaps in this mix of young designers lives the next Charles Eames—willingly accepting of and inspired by constraints. —Mark Dziersk, FIDSA, Innovation executive editor


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eople are more connected than ever before and in more ways imaginable. Whether we like it or not, business is personal and brands are relationships. And at the end of the day we designers are in the business of designing great relationships. Our work is what builds trust, from a well-spent moment connecting on a smartphone or an easy-to-use medical device that helps people get better to a welldesigned customer service response, a more inspiring educational experience, or a more engaging or efficient use of a toaster. The more emotion you can put into your work, the better. It’s those emotional moments of connection, understanding, clarity and inspiration that build trust and relationships between brands and people. Empathy & Understanding: The Catalyst for Innovation Emotional connections happen most often as a demonstration of empathy: I understand where you are coming from, I understand what you need in this situation, and I am here to help you. When the design of an object or an experience speaks to users, that connection tells them that someone really thought about it, that there is a person behind it. A relationship forms that makes people want to know more about that person, that company, and the products and services they create. No other profession, with the possible exceptions of psychology and social work, teaches empathy as the key to success in the way design does. Empathy and understanding extend far beyond the user experience to include collaboration with the many people needed to uncover needs, reframe problems, generate solutions, prototype and test those ideas, and manage the organization to create truly breakthrough innovation.

Building Brand Relationships Unfortunately, it seems that people rarely have the kind of experiences that make them smile, make them curious and encourage them to come back. Customer expectations, new devices and new channels continually motivate designers to deliver the best possible experiences, but the speed of change and the appeal of shiny new objects can distract us from what’s really important in design: the people. This quite simply is why business and governments and organizations of all stripes have turned to design to help balance the financial and rational demands of business with the need to help people and to build more meaning and meaningful value into business and government relationships. Are you an advocate for your customers and your peers in collaboration? What is your role in designing experiences? How do you effectively integrate physical and digital experiences? Are you considering the role of products in the larger relationships you are building? What kinds of tools and education will be needed? And how do you make business personal? Let me know your thoughts. —Michael Westcott, IDSA, president, DMI

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ecently IDSA provided members with a copy of Okala Practitioner, by educators Philip White, IDSA, Louise St. Pierre and Steve Belletire, IDSA, based on IDSA collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2003. It purports to be a comprehensive workbook for designers to integrate ecological philosophies, principles and strategies into their daily work. Over 600 strategies, regulations, steps, factors and calculations are described. Many of these, I’m sure, are legitimate actions that may contribute to the many environmental problems, either real, computer projected or imagined, that environmentalists have identified and promulgated over many years. The authors effectively summarize and explain these in detail and must be congratulated for their efforts to organize and present the information in a concise and easy-to-follow manner. Now, everyone is as supportive of improving the environment, promoting sustainability and developing renewable energy as they are of peace, love and fairness, all politically correct terms of our age. Naming the concept with a Native American word implies ecological purity, but Okala includes political ideologies that drive these noble objectives far beyond reasonable moderation or practicality. Chapter 3 cites a number of ideologies. The Natural Step (TNS) promotes “changes in ‘forms of societal organization’” and states, “Fossil fuels, metals … must not be extracted at a faster rate than their redeposit and regeneration in the Earth’s crust.” (How could this possibly be measured worldwide?) Factor 10 advocates to “reduce the amount of resources needed to deliver human products and services.” (Isn’t this what we designers do?) Natural Capitalism claims that “the environment … transforms economic theory” and that “true democratic systems of governance based on the needs of people rather than business provide the best long-term environment for commerce.” (What about people’s wants and aspirations beyond food, clothing and housing?) Chapter 4 states, “Design can guide people to new behaviors,” particularly to “low-consumption behavior” by consumers. Do the authors know that this was what caused the Great Depression of the 1930s, or that it was industrial design that ended it with designs that encouraged high consumption? On the same page, political activism by design-


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ers is encouraged. These are political theories that have no basis in fact or demonstrated results and which arrogantly assume that man can control nature. Do the authors agree with these ideologies? These theories are clearly antigrowth and antibusiness. To integrate this Okala environmentally biased checklist into professional practice would require an enormous amount of designer time and energy at a client’s expense, and would be in addition to the normal design process that incorporates manufacturing, marketing and engineering needs into the product, as well as essential user needs and aspirations. There would be conflicts of interest between environmental, client and user needs. Materials and process selections are about much more than environmental impact. How do the authors propose to resolve these conflicts? Chapter 7 suggests not compromise but rather that designers “educate all team members.” Designers, however, have a professional obligation to primarily serve the client’s interests, not the planet’s. This is stated in Article II of the IDSA Code of Ethics: “We will provide our employers and clients with original and innovative design service of high quality by serving their interests as faithful agents … and by avoiding conflicts of interest.” Yes, it also states, “Striving to maintain sufficient knowledge of relevant current events and trends so as to be able to assess the economic and environmental effects of our decisions,” but does not suggest prioritizing the latter over the former. If these conflict, designers must favor their clients’ economic interests. A prominent feature of the booklet is the Okala Impact Factor values of 500 materials and processes that quantify the amount of carbon dioxide caused by using them. Carbon dioxide is an obsession of the EPA because it is the only part of greenhouse gasses that it can regulate, tax and control in order to shape the economy to its ideological objectives. Greenhouse gasses are the primary cause of global warming because they trap heat on the earth’s surface. Inconvenient fact: They are actually 95 percent water vapor. Do the authors offer any scientific facts about the actual quantity of carbon dioxide in greenhouse gasses that justifies its draconian reduction? Inconvenient facts: Carbon dioxide is only one-tenth of 1 percent of the total greenhouse gasses on earth. All US-produced carbon dioxide is only three one-

hundredths of 1 percent of the world’s total greenhouse effect. (Calculations upon request). Even if all carbon dioxide emissions in the US stopped today, 99 and 97/100th of 1 percent of carbon dioxide would still remain. How does this solve, or even impact, the global problem? The net effect of the EPA regulating carbon dioxide emissions unilaterally (without a global pact to restrain China or India, the largest polluters) would be to kill tens of thousands of US jobs (including some of ours) through plant closings and layoffs, to impoverish individual energy-producing states, and to severely damage the US economy and its ability to compete globally. Is this “in the interests of the people,” or is it political ideology? IDSA always claimed: “Good design is good business.” Are we now to say: Good design may be harmful to business, but it is good for environmentalism? Scientists still struggle to explain why global temperatures have held essentially steady for 15 years. Note the global temperature chart on page 54 of the Okala booklet, which conveniently stops at the year 2000, when significant temperature rise had already slowed. Al Gore’s alarmist “global warming” has now been relabeled by environmentalists as “climate change.” Recent public opinion polls indicate that concerns about climate change are at 20-year lows. Industrial designers have a highly respected role in the business process, but they are neither environmental scientists nor business financial experts. They should pay attention to scientific facts, not political ideology. They should resist becoming educator-deputized environmental vigilantes and should serve client business interests, which depend on national economic health and global competitiveness. For many clients, a noncompetitive and weakened business economy could be worse than global warming.


e thank Carroll Gantz, FIDSA for reading and commenting on Okala Practitioner. Some of his misgivings are undoubtedly shared by others. He asks many questions and makes many largely inaccurate claims about the design guide. We address his most substantive comments within the tight constraints of this letter. When asserting that the aim of the industrial designer is only to serve the client, Gantz overlooks our honorable history of bringing the concerns of human-centered design to the boardroom table. The designer’s role as advocate of the needs of humanity is well understood. We ask that designers tend the needs of the biosphere in the same way: diplomatically, strategically and persuasively. By doing so, we also serve humanity by maintaining essential ecosystem services such as clean air, water and soil, which are required to sustain more than 9 billion people globally. Okala Practitioner provides information that supports practicing designers in creating products and services with superior environmental performance, to the extent that their commissioners are motivated to accept. It also gives information for designers who work outside of traditional client relationships. Sadly, and contrary to Gantz’s misguided claims, many of the Earth’s living systems are in decline, and global warming (climate change) is incontrovertible knowledge. More insulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the amount of heat that does not pass to outer space. The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere will soon exceed 400 parts per million, far above the stable 280 parts per million measured over most of the last 800,000 years. NASA, the Association of the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the US Department of Energy, the American Association

—Carroll Gantz, FIDSA

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for the Advancement of Science and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agree that the increasing level of carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to increased atmospheric temperatures. Eighteen American scientific societies recently signed a letter reiterating the evidence for human modification of climate ( scientific-consensus). Average Global Temperature 1880-2012

58.5 58.0 Source: NASA GISS

Degrees Fahrenheit


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As the atmosphere steadily warms (above) it disturbs habitats worldwide and threatens global food production. Other serious environmental problems include a disrupted nitrogen cycle and lowered ecosystem resilience (www. The oceans are becoming increasingly acidic. Species are going extinct at unprecedented rates. Environmental disaster is not waiting for the birth of our grandchildren. We see it now. Creative thinkers who are willing to face this crisis build a basis of new approaches that we touch on in Okala Practitioner. Designers play a crucial role in this effort. But we are not alone. The global paradigm shift required to tend the biosphere requires a massive effort from all fronts. Many economists, scientists and businesses are exploring ways to merge economic demands and environmental requirements. Joining this interdisciplinary effort may take some designers out of familiar and comfortable domains, but for others, the opportunity to exercise design’s communication skills to bridge disciplines and visualize solutions is exciting and rewarding. Our research shows that a majority of companies today embrace environmentally sustainable practices as a central objective. This goal translates directly to the development of products and services. These companies now demand that design play a role in helping to understand and manage environmental impacts while simultaneously fostering business profits. On the surface these goals seem like polar opposites. But the evidence is clear that they are not only compatible but interdependent. The following statement

from Stanley Black & Decker exemplifies the breadth of a product manufacturer’s commitment to the environment ( We believe in excellence—in our products, our people, and our practices. We’re committed to sustainable business policies and initiatives that reduce our impact on the environment and improve the quality of life in every community we reach. In addition to corporate level technologies and processes that reduce our environmental impacts, many of our industrial and consumer tools and solutions are designed to help our customers reduce their water consumption, energy use, and waste generation. Gantz’s fear that creating low-impacting products and services will cost jobs and herald the demise of our discipline is unfounded. Many examples exist of using lower material and energy throughput while simultaneously increasing economic output. Japan in the 1980s achieved this as has Sweden in the last decade (C. Fred Bergsten, “The Swedish Model for Economic Recovery,” Washington Post, Aug. 29, 2013). Markets need to be active for a robust economy, but the quantity of resources running through need not increase to achieve economic vigor. Widespread adoption of environmental performance metrics (like the Okala Impact Factors) can help stimulate demand for products with lower environmental impacts. Possible outcomes include environmental product declarations, analogous to food labeling, like those that will soon be required on all products sold in France. Such eco-labels leave the purchasing decision to increasingly informed consumers. The world needs the ingenuity of industrial designers now more than ever. We are essential to the development of products and services with negligible environmental impacts, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat (2013 IDEA Sustainability Award and People’s Choice) and the Tesla Model S electric car (2013 IDEA Gold for Transportation and Best of Show). IDSA’s creation of the (environmental) Sustainability Award and recognition for greener products demonstrate that our discipline is indeed advancing. We welcome all voices, such as that of Carroll Gantz, who challenge current ecodesign data, methods and objectives and question the ethical roles of designers. These challenges afford an opportunity for greater understanding, improved practice and better design. We all benefit by expanding this dialogue. —The Okala Team: Philip White, IDSA, Louise St. Pierre and Steve Belletire, IDSA


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f you are reading this article you are using monetary incentives? Do you believe probably what the business world calls that brainstorming is the foundation upon a “creative.” Odds are you have some which effective creativity is built? You and deeply held experience-based opinions about your colleagues’ beliefs about these ideas are creativity and how it works. I do, and I think probably different, and you may be surprised I’m pretty good at being creative, but the who’s right. more I study the subject, the less sure I am In the chapter titled “The Mousetrap that I have it right. Myth” Burkus discusses why company In The Myths of Creativity, David Burkus culture, organizational structure and basic identifies the commonly held and unsound human behavior make innovation at work preconceptions we have about the creative so difficult. He asserts that most organizaprocess. By citing recent research and quantions don’t need more creative ideas; they titative findings on the subject, he presents need better systems for qualifying the ideas evidence that some of our favorite beliefs and they already have. They need to understand methods are flawed. He also exposes the potential (not just risk), and they need better origins of the myths upon which we base our methods to develop and test these ideas. The approach to innovation processes. road to creative success even inside a creCreativity is We can attribute some of our incorative organization isn’t necessarily easy either. rect notions about creativity to the ancient The more novel your idea, the more obstacles a team sport. Greeks. Their belief that muses granted creyou’ll face. Idea advocacy and old-fashioned —David Burkus ative inspiration to their worshipers lives on persistence are areas that will require your today as a subtle yet persistent belief that creative attention. ideas come to us from an outside force and that we have At approximately 200 pages, The Myths of Creativity to be ready to receive these gifts. As Christian monotheism is a short yet valuable read. It’s designed to help anyone became central to Western society, people began to give understand the inner workings of creativity and innovation. thanks to God for inspiration and for their resulting creative If you read a lot on the subject, you’ll be familiar with some outputs. Even in secular communities today, many of us of the older innovation stories. The research illustrations, believe that a certain set of conditions must be right for us by contrast, will likely be new to a design reader, and this to get that creative spark. Creativity as derived from sparks is where you may find quantitative backup for experiences and gifts is the first myth Burkus busts, referencing Teresa you’ve had. Just beware that it may also be where you find Amibile’s work on creativity at Harvard. your cover blown. What we as professional creators do isn’t Burkus goes on to explain the underlying hard work and unique to us. And although we may be better at it than some technical inaccuracies behind stories of eureka moments. (because we are paid to practice), we’d be wise to learn He exposes the myth that creativity is a trait that only from the latest research and quantitative evidence proving certain people have or have in abundance. The originality that a thorough multistage process provides better results. myth, a belief that new ideas are completely original, is chalAccording to Burkus, “Creativity is a team sport.” lenged; Burkus proposes instead that everything is built as Winning teams know the value of preseason training, cola combination of older ideas. Process myths are exposed laboration, hard work and rest. If you sell yourself as a valutoo. How many of us believe that outsiders are better than able creative within a team, or you want to maximize your experts when innovation is required? Who works in enviteam’s creative output, this book will help you tune your ronments where creativity and innovation are motivated innovation process.

—Scott Stropkay, IDSA

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hat is design? This is a simple question, perhaps, but certainly one that can have many answers, from the creation of an appearance to the transformation of business. These days it may seem especially complicated: We have a multitude of practicing design disciplines and no shortage of experts and tomes perpetrating another take on design thinking and innovation. Might these practices bring about world peace? In this increasing age of specification, maybe a useful answer lies within a common thread found in all of our activities. Ever since my undergrad days, I’ve been in love with the singular word “design.” When I see it, I just get excited, not only for those nicely kerned letterforms sitting there so proudly (most often in Helvetica bold back then in the late ’70s/early ’80s), but also more so, I think, for my own projections of what design was or is or could be. This visual perception process stirs in me a mental model of possibility—a sort of call and repeat to action, if you will. The great Roman architect Vitruvius, in Book II, chapter 8 of his classic The Ten Books of Architecture, related the story of the spring waters at Salmacis in ancient Caria, and how great service from a well-stocked shop nearby convinced barbarians to act in a more civilized way—an ancient


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story of modern-day service design where a significant barrier was broken down leading to a successful result. Most interestingly, Vitruvius tells us this within a chapter devoted to methods of building walls! Push forward to the industrial revolution in England in the 19th century and messengers such as John Ruskin and William Morris. They challenged their day’s established art and design and political worlds, and called for a refusal of historical thinking and practice. In his first lecture after joining Oxford University later in life, Ruskin offered, “The art of any country is the exponent of its social and political virtues. Thus, its effect on each man should be visible and moving.” Ah, a tie between what we see and an effect on our being. It sounds like he was suggesting intention, doesn’t it? Later, at the Bauhaus, the spiritual ancestors of the our perhaps nascent maker culture called for the democratization of design via an active movement away from extraneous decoration and toward a more encompassing view of design and design education. Walter Gropius, its founder, offered, “Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.”


Illustration: Yirun Xu, 2014 MA Candidate, Design Management, Savannah College of Art & Design School of Design

In the last century, Buckminster Fuller told us that he “seemed to be a verb.” Even if we don’t believe his purported claim of sleeping only two hours a night, if you’ve seen any old video or knew the man, he was certainly in motion, and I’d be willing to bet that in the stuff of his life he brushed his teeth with intention. In a piece published in Innovation in the Spring 2012 issue, Bill Moggridge, FIDSA shared that he liked Charles Eames’ definition of design, “Design is a method of action,” because, as Moggridge explained, “‘method’ implies the commonality of process shared across design disciplines and because ‘action’ shows that design is about doing as well as thinking, making a difference, creating an outcome.” Note how neither Eames nor Moggridge got into cultural norms or moralistic descriptors like good or bad. I agree with this take; such qualifiers get in the way of our best understanding of the root of what is design. These days, I spend most of my time teaching in the Graduate Program in Design Management at Savannah College of Art and Design. Within our School of Design we have many great programs in the various design disciplines, although I wonder sometimes about our separation as departments and the potential lack of cross-disciplinary sensitivity

and understanding by students. If our specialization in design activities is akin to the development of hand-only surgeons versus general practitioners in the medical world, how can we be mindful and promote a grander connected view of design? In one of our early design management sequence classes, idea visualization, we teach students to draw accurately so that they learn to see things as they are; this is done as a precursor for later work, ensuring that students properly perceive human activity and interests. This skill is necessary before they can imagine an idea or an object, or market offerings, as they might be. Seeing is not only an action verb but also the start to the method behind a conscious understanding of objects, environments, facts, etc. It is part of the design method, as Eames and Moggridge have already noted. Ultimately, seeing and its full realization, design thinking, are absolutely critical for the creation of well-constructed problem/opportunity statements and the visioning of new and considered solutions. If consideration is awareness realized, perhaps our conversation is no longer about bad or good, but rather of conscious intention and appropriateness for purpose. So for me, design is conscious action. —Bill Lee, professor of design management, SCAD

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A L O O K B ACK Editor’s note: This is the final installment in this three-part series about five pioneering industrial design educators, who all started as faculty in the same Pittsburgh school.



art 2 ended with the untimely death of Alexander Kostellow. In 1952, he had created an Experimental Design Laboratory at Pratt, with participating companies that included General Motors. Despite poor health, he had engaged in a lengthy and demanding consulting session at General Motors’ styling division in Detroit in the summer of 1954, with fatal results. Part 3 Kostellow’s death in 1954 left an enormous vacuum in the world of design. Industrial designer Robert Kölli replaced him at Pratt as chairman of the Industrial Design department. Mary Wallis Gutmann, in her 2012 unpublished essay “The Foundation Year at Pratt,” wrote of Kölli: He could not have been more different in style and substance and I hardly remember him. The next two years were not what I had expected but things improved with time. The course of study Mr. Kostellow had so carefully planned survived and the people he had taught, professors, instructors, and technicians, followed his precepts. Most were outstanding. The other professors and instructors brought their own skills to the classroom. None, however, had Mr. Kostellow’s ability to teach and inspire. His intelligence, charm, and intense interest in teaching and learning have remained, for me and for many others, unmatched. Peter Müller-Munk, a designer and silversmith who taught with Kostellow, commented, “[He was] one of the most brilliant people I have ever met, his influence on everybody he came in contact with, his magnetic enthusiasm, and his almost hypnotic effect on academic and industrial authorities have no equal.” IDSA commented in a biography, “[Alexander Kostellow was] regarded by many as the ‘father’ of industrial design education.” (Many also regard Donald Dohner as the father of industrial design education because he initiated design education at Carnegie Tech and instructed Kostellow, then a painter, to teach industrial design in 1934. See Part 1 of this series in the Spring issue of Innovation.)


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Peter Müller-Munk, FIDSA became president of the American Society of Industrial Designers (ASID) that same year. By 1956, as representative of ASID, he was elected president of the newly founded International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) in Paris, representing 23 professional and promotional design organizations from 17 countries. In 1962, Rowena Reed Kostellow, FIDSA (right) became chair of the department after Kölli’s return to a teaching position. Again the department found itself in the custody of someone who had been, as wife to Alexander Kostellow and a teacher in her own right in several departments at Pratt, intimately familiar with its early development and design aims. Reed was an eloquent spokeswoman concerning the dedication to design principles, carrying her thoughts on this subject to all corners of the design world, in person and in print. She was also a sculptress, with a sculptor’s refined sensitivity to form in all its aspects. She sought to bring to the department’s curriculum a special emphasis on architectonic form, according to the 1974 Pratt department history, Industrial Design at Pratt Institute. In her essay Gutmann wrote: “This included wire sculpture after Alexander Calder, and architectonic projects that demonstrated understanding of the well-recognized design principles we had met in all the classes. The projects led up to a final senior abstract interior design project.” When Jim Lesko, L/IDSA was a student in Carnegie Tech’s industrial design program in 1963–1965, only Robert Lepper remained from the 1934 faculty. Wilfred Readio and Richard Felver had passed away in 1961, and Lee Goldman, an industrial designer from Corning Glass, had replaced Felver as head. Lepper turned from painting to sculpture, developing works made from scrap metal that echoed his earlier paintings of machine art. Over time he would create dozens of fascinating works. According to the 1994 Robert L. Lepper Commemorative Project, at the time Lepper said, “The monument and scrap heap are historically reciprocal. History is the process of making one from the other.”

IDSA Archives

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In his article “Industrial Design at Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1934– 1967” (published in 1997 in the Journal of Design History, http://jdh.oxfordjournals. org/content/10/3/269), Lesko described the state of the department at the time: “It did not grow or evolve much beyond the original program ... compared to what occurred at Pratt during the same time period. ... It did grow gradually, but the classes never exceeded a high of sixteen. That is not much to interest an administration. ID at CIT remained in the background and moved from basement to basement. The graphic design faculty of the defunct printing management program was combined with ID to form a new department. Its incorporation in ID dealt the final death blow to any hope that the ID program would ever establish a strong, balanced, identity.” After Müller-Munk left the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) in 1944 to focus on his Pittsburgh design office, he never paid attention to the CIT program. Lesko stated: “Kurt Heinz, an ID graduate of 1963 who had worked at the Müller-Munk firm before college, stated that Müller-Munk advised him to go to Pratt rather than CIT. Heinz stated clearly that Müller-Munk did not like Felver, and it is rather doubtful that he in all honesty respected Lepper’s efforts at CIT.” Müller-Munk consulted with U.S. Steel regarding its Unisphere that dominated the 1964 World’s Fair and which still remains in Flushing Meadows, NY. In 1967, he died tragically in Pittsburgh, but his firm, Peter Müller-Munk Associates, continues there to this day. In 2011, the US Postal Service honored him on a series of stamps titled Pioneers of American Industrial Design, one of which depicted his classic Normandie pitcher of 1935 (inset). With Reed’s partial retirement in 1966, Joseph M. Parriott, FIDSA (right) became chairman of the depart-


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ment, a post he held until 1990. His was the first appointment of an active practicing designer. He had managed product design for Raymond Loewy/William Snaith, Inc. in New York. At the time he was also president of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), formed the year before by a merger of three design organizations, an enormous accomplishment in which Parriott played an important part. Carnegie Tech became Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in 1967. Lepper retired in 1976. In 1986, Lepper’s theoretical approach to teaching was compared to Johannes Itten and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy’s Bauhaus courses, and his murals as rivaling Diego Rivera’s, by Richard Guy Wilson in his book The Machine Age in America, 1918– 1941. When I became professor and head of the design department in 1987, Lepper was living alone in a third-floor apartment in Shadyside. The Carnegie Magazine of the Carnegie Museum had just featured him in its Spring issue. Lesko, also on the CMU faculty at the time, and I visited him often for lunch to chat about old times; he was still fiercely independent and feisty, although in poor health. In 1988 he was recognized for his contribution to industrial design education by the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of IDSA. In 1989, he received IDSA’s National Education Award at IDSA’s annual conference in Minneapolis, MN. Reed passed away in 1988, a painful loss to all the students who knew and loved her. Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships, by Gail Greet Hannah, was published in 2002. It had been started by Reed, but was left unfinished at her death. A group of former students created the Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund to support the completion of the book. Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA studied under Reed in the late 1960s, and wrote about her in an essay about the

“She [Rowena Reed Kostellow] was a fantastic teacher who was able to help us see

the importance of both the tiniest subtleties and the grandest gestures.

book ( “She was a fantastic teacher who was able to help us see the importance of both the tiniest subtleties and the grandest gestures. I felt the program was fresh and essential (although somewhat diluted by general entropy and student protests of the era). The curriculum is classic, and vital to industrial design the way Greek and Roman architecture will always be the basis for architecture. ‘Pure, unadulterated beauty should be the goal of civilization!’ said Miss Reed.” He also quoted her ideas on how designers should be trained: “Our goal is the training of a designer so familiar with the principles of abstraction that he automatically thinks of a visual problem in terms of organized relationships and then feels free to study other aspects of the problem, or to confer with specialists in related fields. He is a designer who can, visually, cross boundaries and suggest new forms for new materials or new techniques.” Lepper passed away in 1991, the last of the Pittsburgh design educators. He was mourned by thousands of his students, whom he jokingly referred to as his “adoration society.” In 1994 a number of those students conducted the Robert Lepper Commemorative Project with a television documentary, a major show of his work and full-scale reproductions of his sculptures. A lifetime has literally passed since 1934, when industrial design education was born. Hundreds of outstanding teachers followed over the years as over 40 schools of design were founded, evolved and flourished. Many thousands of their students joined the profession and added their creativity, innovation and leadership to visibility advance the cause of design and the level of excellence that today dominates this successful international field well beyond the dreams of those early pioneers. Today’s industrial design education is in large part the legacy of those five remarkable pioneers from Pittsburgh: Donald Dohner, Alexander Kostellow, Rowena Reed Kostellow, FIDSA, Peter Müller-Munk, FIDSA and Robert Lepper. We owe them our gratitude and respect.

IDSA Archives

—Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA

—Carroll Gantz, FIDSA

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Extreme Design


hat bugs me about all this talk about design thinking is, first, it’s not new. Second, without enough doing, just thinking gets strategists in trouble (for instance: “This is not a hotel—this is an idea!” Marriott). And third, as my Brazilian friend and former IDEA jury member Celso Santos pointed out, “Design thinking is not really how designers think!” The word “design,” like “innovation” and “better,” has become so broad—it means too much (not a problem with a word like “beautility,” which says exactly what it is). So if we modify design by adding “thinking,” do we get a little more focus? Or more jargon? What is design thinking? Wikipedia has a good description: “As a style of thinking, design thinking is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context.” Meaning a process where multiple variables are juggled toward solving problems. Like design, people have been doing design thinking for a long time. If you’re not thinking, how can it be design? People naturally have to think before they design—otherwise the results are just accidents. Today industrial designers don’t necessarily design products or even things for industry, but industrial designers are professional design thinkers. Industrial design is a broad-ranging creative approach: Designers look at what people say they want and what people actually do. We mix that together with our talent and inspiration and fold in some practicality and available technology to produce propositions—hypotheses that frame the issues with concrete solutions. Rolf Faste, a famous industrial design teacher at Syracuse and Stanford, popularized the idea of design thinking as a way of creative action.


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© Neale Osborne/ Lebrecht Music & Arts/Corbis

Evidence Industrial designers bring an extra dimension to the table: We actually make physical stuff. GMC uses the concept in its tag line: “Incredible thinking in the form of a truck.” What gives industrial design its power is the fact that we do thinking and doing. Making is back in style: makerbots, artisanal cooking, Project Runway, Kickstarter, Portland, Brooklyn. Does the thinking end when we start building models and prototypes? No, because they give us more to think about— and real problems based on real experiments, tests and observations. We are good at this because we don’t just think about problems, we make new ones! Design thinking is not just problem-solving, it’s problem making. But as Teresa Fonseca, a Portuguese designer friend of mine, pointed out, “Why do you Americans think everything is a problem?”

Whether it’s a problem or an assignment or a dream, we think with our hands. Or as John Dewey called it: “Learn by doing.” Progressive education, he proposed, is all about experiential learning, being hands-on, using primary sources, being interdisciplinary, collaborating, problem-solving, engaging in open-ended play driven by imagination. Like Jimi Hendrix, successful business models are based on jamming and real feedback. That’s why figure drawing is an essential foundation for any design thinker. Learning how to draw is not about learning to make art. A new Portuguese friend, Raquel Pelayo, told me at a recent International Drawing and Cognition Research Conference at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that learning to draw is a physical skill useful for everyone: selfcommunication, translating what you see through moving your hands with a pencil and then being able to look at it on a piece of paper to verify what you think you saw. It is a skill everyone needs, like when learning to throw a ball you see how your body works. A scientist drawing a microbe glimpsed through a microscope helps clarify the observations. Intelligent humans use both their heads and their bodies; these you can’t separate—that causes death! Entrepreneurial The design process is not like walking: putting one foot in front of the other. It’s more like riding a dirt bike through the woods. Designers are always thinking. Looking the other way. Taking risks, chances, accidents, leaps. Testing how thick the ice is. Trying it another way. Finding some corollary or metaphor that reframes the argument or another audience that appreciates the play. It’s entrepreneurial energy. Back in the early 18th century, the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon first used the word “entrepreneur” to mean “making decisions about obtaining and using the resources while consequently admitting the risk of enterprise.” Like the word “design,” the meaning of “entrepreneur” is spreading out in a good way from greedy industrialists and venture capitalists to include the entrepreneurial spirit in all kinds of endeavors—not just starting a business, but playing soccer and brain surgery. The entrepreneurial

spirit is a drive to make things work—with a certain urgency! Agile. It’s faster than business as usual, more radical and more physical—it takes balls. I mean, if you could choose between a doctor with entrepreneurial spirit and a regular one, who would you choose?

“Design thinking is not really how designers think.” —Celso Santos Collaboration Industrial designers have always been entrepreneurs—looking for solutions and capabilities in coworkers and copolymers and using lateral thinking and collaboration wherever we can find it. David Kelley, IDSA explained on 60 Minutes, “The big thing about design thinking is it allows people to build on the ideas of others. Instead of just having that one thread. You think about it, I come up with an idea, and then somebody from somewhere else says, ‘Oh that makes me think we should do this and then we could do that.’ And then you get to a place that you just can’t get to in one mind.” This way of working is especially necessary now as technology accelerates. Technology is not only fueling change, it is igniting it—it’s blowing it up. Tonight my 12-year-old daughter, Louisa, lamented: ”What is my life coming to?!” Progressive education pedagogy and design thinking methods produce what Bruce Nussbaum, H/IDSA calls “creative capital” that can aid what Sir Ken Robinson calls the “crisis of human resources.” Exaggerating economic, environmental and fame cycles requires extreme design. People need the intellectual tools, social tools and technology to meet the extreme challenges we face. Tactics that aren’t so simple or academic. Extreme design is design thinking + collaboration + entrepreneurial spirit. Extreme design, like James Bond, has a license to kill. It burns through quicker tests, faster judgments, deeper empathy, more innovation. Never satisfied. Ahead of the curve. On the edge. Always learning. That’s how designers live! —Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA

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By Prasad Boradkar, IDSA Prasad Boradkar is associate professor and coordinator of the Industrial Design program at Arizona State University (ASU) and the director of InnovationSpace, a transdisciplinary laboratory at ASU where design, business and engineering students and faculty partner with corporations to develop human-centered product concepts that hold societal benefit and minimize impacts on the environment. Boradkar is the author of Designing Things: A Critical Introduction to the Culture of Objects (Berg, 2010) and is currently working on a book on Indian design.

Photos courtesy Coppre, unless otherwise noted.


Above: Ganesh Wadke shaping a copper artifact; Right, clockwise starting upper right: Walkways in Tambat Ali (Copper Alley); Copper vessel, design Rashmi Ranade; Bhalchandra Kadu heating a copper plate for processing.


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ong before you see the craftsmen of Tambat Ali (Copper Alley), you can hear them. Their hammers sound like a sym-

phony that rings out from deep within the historic district of the city of Pune in western India. In a network of jumbled streets that wind around sunny courtyards and shadowed studios, some 40 coppersmiths ply an old and honorable trade, as did

them. Here sheets of malleable copper are molded into the squat, sturdy form of a cooking pot or into the long, elegant lines of a water jug. Each object is passed through a long line of practiced hands until

Photo courtesy Prasad Boradkar.

several generations of Tambat Ali craftsmen before

it ends up in the workshops of the expert finishers who strike the copper’s surface with a precise hammer tone pattern that gives each vessel its strength and lustrous beauty.

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Photo courtesy Coppre.


Nilesh Kadu applying protective coating to a copper vessel.

Tambat Ali established itself in the bustling city of Pune during the mid-1600s. Under the rule of the powerful young emperor Chattrapati Shivaji, the craftsmen created a variety of metal objects for the kingdom, such as highly ornate finials for temples as well as cannons for Shivaji’s army. Their repertoire expanded in the 18th century to include such items as copper coins, body armor and letterforms for printing presses. When India fell under British control in the mid-19th century, the copper craftsmen were prohibited from creating arms and weapons. So they turned instead to making everyday objects ranging from cooking utensils and storage containers to water heaters. Some of these classic, timeless designs are still being made by the community. Although its traditional handiwork has endured for more than 400 years, Tambat Ali faces tough challenges, many of which are shared by other artisan communities around the world. The number of new apprentices willing to learn the craft, for example, has dwindled as the children of the coppersmiths opt for formal college education and enter other professions. In addition, the rising price of copper (fueled by the global need for the metal in electrical applications) has increased the cost of the objects at a time when mass-produced stainless-steel utensils and plastic containers are providing consumers with cheaper alternatives.


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Noting such economic and cultural trends, in 2000 Pune-based product designer Rashmi Ranade approached Tambat Ali leaders Bhalchandra Kadu and Kishore Karde about developing new applications for the community’s ancient craft. Over the past decade, their collaboration has produced innovative modern housewares that marry contemporary design with Tambat Ali’s age-old coppersmithing skills. The Tambat Ali craftsmen are now working with Coppre, a Pune-based venture set up by designers, marketing professionals and investors ( coppre). In addition, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), an organization dedicated to preserving India’s natural and human resources, markets and sells the copper goods through its nationwide network. Plans call for establishing an international market for Tambat Ali’s work in the future. Ranade’s collaboration with the artisans of Tambat Ali is a clear demonstration of how contemporary product design can play a critical role in preserving cultural traditions and promoting grassroots entrepreneurship. And product design accomplishes these goals simply by doing what it does best: serving utilitarian ends through extraordinarily beautiful means. n

C O R R E CT IONS Editor’s note: The following products were listed incorrectly or omitted from the Yearbook of Design Excellence. We sincerely regret these errors.

1. COMPUTER EQUIPMENT SILVER: FOLDER PAD Folder Pad is a tablet PC that can support multiple usage scenarios. The stand of the Folder Pad is wellintegrated into the tablet PC, which eliminates the external support equipment. The Folder Pad also is very easy to fold and carry. n Designed by Yao Yingjia, I/IDSA of Lenovo (Beijing) Ltd. 2. STUDENT BRONZE: HYPERION – MINER’S HELMET The Hyperion Miner’s Helmet is designed to endure the tough conditions and long hours experienced by the modern mining operator. It features adjustable lights for working and walking, head-up display with vital work/vehicle information, an extra layer of shockabsorbing foam and an in-ear radio with active noise cancellation. n Designed by Kim Enig Risager of Umeå Institute of Design for Boliden AB and Atlas Copco. 3. STUDENT BRONZE: ERGONIUM – PERSONAL HEAD PROTECTION FOR MINERS The ERGONIUM – Personal head protection for miners is a miner’s helmet designed to minimize work-related injuries and prevcent irreversible vertebrae damage. It provides both head protection and comfort during long work hours. It features a balanced weight distribution, which reduces stress, load and fatigue. n Designed by Maxine Dubreucq of Umeå Institute of Design


4. STUDENT FINALIST: 100 BPM – SIMPLIFIED CHEST COMPRESSION designed by Maxime Dubreucq, Shivanjali Tomar, Doris Feurstein and Natalie Vanns of Umeå Institute of Design



Statement of Ownership Publication: Innovation Publication Number: 0016-067 Filing Date: 10-7-2013 Issue Frequency: Quarterly No. of Issues Published Annually: 4 Annual Subscription Rate: $60 US; $75 Canada/Mexico; $110 Int’l Mailing Address: IDSA, 555 Grove St., Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170 Mailing Address for Headquarters: same as above Owner & Publisher: same as above Editor: Karen Berube Issue Date for Circulation Data: Summer 2013


Total Number of Copies: Paid/Requested Outside County: Paid in County: Sales through Dealers/Carriers: Other Classes Mailed through USPS: Total paid: Free Distribution Outside County Free Distribution Inside County Free Distribution Mailed through USPS: Free Distribution: Total Distribution: Copies Not Distributed: Total: Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation:

Ave. Year Single 4,800 4,600 3,781 3,610 0 0 182 131 282 232 4,245 3,973 0 0 0 0 0 0 275 0 4,520 3,973 286 627 4,806 4,600 94% 100% I N N O V AT I O N W I N T E R 2 0 1 3


By Byron Bloch, IDSA Byron Bloch has been an auto safety expert in design and crashworthiness for over 40 years, advocating for the adoption of airbags, forward-of-axle fuel tanks, stronger roofs for roll-over protection, truck underride guards and other technologies. He inspects accident vehicles, lectures, writes, appears on TV, testifies in court on behalf of crash victims, demonstrates designs that are safer and produces documentaries analyzing car crash accidents. He’s a graduate of UCLA’s industrial design program.



sk yourself, what are the vital qualities that must be taken into account for every product you design? Is safety one of them? From my own perspective of over 40 years immersed in industrial design and human factors engineering, it has been clear that safety must be included as

a key requirement in the design and performance of every product. This is imperative whether the product is intended for households, factories, offices, outdoor workplaces, sports applications or transportation on roads, on the sea, in the air or in outer space, or anywhere else. For every product, whatever its uses and purposes, it is critical to include safety. The importance of a product being designed with optimum safety might seem self-evident. Of course, everyone wants their products to be safe. Well, maybe not always. What if a slightly safer design adds a few extra dollars to the cost of making the product? How important is it to be slightly safer? And what if the product is a motor vehicle that will foreseeably be involved in collision accidents; what then should be done to make it safer and more crashworthy? When I was studying industrial design at UCLA under the direction of renowned Henry Dreyfuss, author of Designing for People, he instilled his basic principles of industrial design, beginning with utility and safety, a focus that helped guide my passion for safer design in vehicles. Classic Ford Mustang: The fuel tank and filler tube are dangerously located near the rear bumper and the top of the fuel tank is also the floor of the trunk (above).


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A Long, Fiery Road Let’s use the Ford Mustang as a case in point. When the Ford Mustang was introduced back in 1964, the awards poured in, mostly for the Mustang’s great overall design: its styling, its excitement, its performance and the package concept of an affordable, attractive, sporty car that was fun to drive. The Mustang is still a beloved classic car with many fan clubs, devoted magazines and sources for replacement parts to keep them running forever. When the Ford Mustang was first launched as a 1965 model, the fuel tank was located behind the rear axle and very close to the rear bumper. The design was known as a drop-in flange-mounted fuel tank; the sheet metal fuel tank

This 1966 Ford Mustang was rear-impacted and burst into flames.

was simply placed in a large rectangular hole in the trunk, where it rested atop a peripheral flange to which it was bolted. This meant that the top of the fuel tank also served as the floor of the trunk; there was no separate trunk floor above the fuel tank. This terribly unsafe design was not generally recognized back then, there was no safety-standard crash-test requirement, and it was overlooked by the media, which failed to alert the public. As an auto safety expert for more than 40 years, I have inspected accident vehicles coast to coast. Long ago, I saw that many vehicles, from virtually all automakers, had the fuel tank dangerously close to the rear bumper, and many rearimpact accidents had led to fuel-fed fires and severe burn injuries and deaths. I documented how the filler tube separated from the fuel tank, how the fuel tank had been crushed and punctured, and how the car had been consumed by the fuel-fed fire. I also noticed and documented that the exhaust system muffler was often located forward of the rear axle, and it had easily survived that same collision. So why not switch locations for the fuel tank and muffler? Ford knew of the Mustang’s problems from its own internal crash testing, all of which were kept confidential until Ford was forced to produce its reports in subsequent court cases. Ford typically conducted rear-impact crash tests at 21 and 31 miles per hour. The filler tube’s rubber hose section came off the short metal filler neck of the tank, and the sheet metal fuel tank was crushed and punctured. Ford knew the Mustang’s fuel tank was much too vulnerable and that leakage and fires would occur in real-world rear-impact accidents.

Along the way, Ford had become aware of the lethality of the vulnerable behind-axle fuel tank in the Mustang, Pinto, Maverick, Comet and many other models. The company explored ways to upgrade fuel-system integrity, such as by using a tough-skin bladder liner within the sheet metal fuel tank, a protective flak suit, a double-wall tank-in-tank safety fuel tank, and other measures that would have cost from $4 to $17 per car. But these fuel tank safety measures were never adopted for production. As another case in point, Ford introduced the Pinto as an inexpensive compact car in 1971. The marketing goal was a 2,000-pound car that would sell for $2,000, but compromises would have to be made. The fuel tank was conventionally located behind the rear axle, but without substantial subframe members to help protect the tank within its short rear body (i.e., the rear crush zone). Ford’s internal crash tests of prototypes and early production Pintos showed the leakage problem. In some tests, Ford used bladder liners as a potential upgrade and noted that although the fuel tank

Feasible location of the fuel tank for the Ford Pinto: #1 is lethal, #2 is less vulnerable, #3 is the safest location.

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had been punctured in puncture-prone areas, thanks to the bladder liner no leakage occurred. But safety bladder liners were never adopted into production. Toward a Safer Design I decided to design and demonstrate what a safer fuel tank design would be like. While working on a product liability case in Georgia in late 1975, I redesigned the fuel tank system of a full-size Ford Galaxie sedan and replaced the deadly vertical behind-axle fuel tank with my own design for a fuel tank located in the safer forward-of-axle position. I then conducted an offset rear impact at 63 miles per hour, demonstrating in my “Phoenix Project” the feasibility and merits of this safer forward-of-axle design. In 1980, I testified in the precedent-setting “reckless homicide” trial in Winamac, IN. This case arose out of a rear-impact accident in which a 1973 Ford Pinto burst into flames, tragically killing three teenage girls. Because of massive media coverage, I felt this was an opportunity to teach the industry that the safest place for a fuel tank was in the protected area forward of the rear axle. Though Ford was acquitted, the compassionate message had gone out loud and clear: To prevent the fiery crashes, move the fuel tank. In the 1970s and ’80s, I had become strongly outspoken in urging the industry to adopt the forward-of-axle location, as some automakers (such as NSU Motorenwerke and BMW) had already done or were beginning to do. I criticized unsafe fuel tanks in my own auto safety reports on KABC TV news in Los Angeles and in the 20/20 newsmagazine report “Beyond the Pinto.” When Ford in 1985 introduced its all-new Taurus, I was invited to the premiere in Los Angeles and met with Ford President Donald Petersen, who was aware of my safety criticisms. He proudly showed me that the new Taurus had its fuel tank forward of the rear axle. Ford was indeed moving forward. Automakers knew that many of their cars had unsafe fuel tank designs. As just some examples, Ford had the Mustang, Pinto, Maverick, Comet, Montego and Galaxie. GM had the Chevette, Vega, Camaro, Firebird, Chevelle and Omega. Chrysler had the Challenger, Barracuda, Dart,


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Through the 1960’s, ’70s and ’80s, the fuel tank in most cars was located within the rear crush zone, exposing the fuel tank to being crushed punctured and ruptured in common rear-impact accidents.

Duster and Volare. AMC had the Gremlin, Javelin and Jeep Cherokee. Toyota and Nissan and other automakers also had vulnerable fuel tanks. Automakers knew from their own internal crash tests, that when these cars would be rear-impacted in common accidents, there was too often a lethal fuel-fed fire in which people would suffer severe or fatal burns. Automakers also knew from the lawsuits filed by the burn victims. Some cases settled prior to trial, while others were decided by a jury verdict. In the 1978 California trial of Grimshaw v. Ford, involving the Pinto, the jury awarded $3 million in compensatory damages and $125 million in punitive damages (later reduced by the judge) for Ford’s corporate behavior of malice. In 1981 the California Appellate Court affirmed that judgment: “There was evidence that Ford could have corrected the hazardous design defects at minimal cost but decided to defer correction of the shortcomings by engaging in a cost-benefit analysis balancing human lives and limbs against corporate profits.” Hopefully, Ford has since mended its ways. What about measures to upgrade the crash survivability of the fuel tank? Why did most automakers (including GM, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors, Toyota and Nissan) settle for too low a performance requirement for fuel tank safety? It appears that they only designed the fuel tank to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which are by law only minimum requirements. A recent US Supreme Court opinion in Williamson v. Mazda further affirmed that complying with Federal Safety Standards is not enough. And why did Ford wait 40 long years until 2005 before finally moving the Mustang’s fuel tank from its dangerous behindaxle location to the safer forward-of-axle location?

Design for Safety from the Beginning

After a needless delay of 20 to 30 or more years, most vehicles are finally designed with the fuel tank in the safety zone forward of the rear axle.

What Would You Do? Back in the 1970s and ’80s, when the vast majority of fuel tanks were behind the rear axle, there were about 700 burn deaths annually in rear-impact accidents. Now that virtually all vehicles have the fuel tank forward of the rear axle, there are about 100 burn deaths per year. A simple design change brought greater safety, yes, but there’s still more to do to get the fiery death toll down to zero. And with about 35,000 fatalities in all US vehicle accidents per year, and 1.3 million worldwide, there’s clearly a compelling need to design more crashworthy vehicles for all collision situations. As you read through this summary of Ford and fuel tank safety issues of the Mustang and Pinto, what would your recommendations have been? Would you have gone along with keeping the fuel tank near the rear bumper? Would you have been outspoken in urging design changes so that the fuel tank would be in a safer location forward of the rear axle? Does your own expertise and focus and compassion as an industrial designer include always making safety a high priority in the products you design? When you consider safety, you should realize this is not just a technical issue. The quality of compassion must be inherent, since the consequences of compromising safety in product design may lead to or cause severe injury or death to other human beings. When vehicle manufacturers design needlessly unsafe fuel tanks or weak roofs that buckle and crush down in rollover accidents or fail to provide side guards on large trailers, that lack of compassion leads to many thousands of individuals needlessly suffering severe to fatal burn injuries, quadriplegia and other disabling conditions. Safety and compassion are intrinsically tied together, and lives are at stake in however you design a product. n

Assume you’re an industrial designer working on the design of a new product. Individually, and possibly as a member of a multidisciplinary team, you should identify the foreseeable and potential inadvertent uses of the product to ensure that the design of the product is safe and will not cause or contribute to any harm to the user or others who may become affected by the product’s performance, whether intended or adverse or inadvertent. You should also analyze the experiences of prior similar products, including competitive products, to learn the reasons that they failed and caused harm, and then correct the flaws in your own design. You should conduct a failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) to analyze any potential product failures and the adverse effects therefrom, and then correct the deficiencies. Your team should conduct risk assessments that can describe how accidents may occur and the consequences and costs that may ensue. Be aware that the company (your client) may have to defend any product liability legal cases alleging that the product was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous. That defense will involve significant legal costs for defense attorneys and defense experts and will have an adverse effect on insurance costs. By taking leadership in designing a safer product in the first place, accidents and injuries will be prevented, the costs of defense will decrease, and the payouts in settlements and verdicts will be reduced. You will have compassionately helped to prevent accidents and injuries, and thereby also prevented risks and costs for your client. A win-win for all. For More Information: The compromise of fuel tank safety, roof crush in rollover accidents and the truck underride hazard were part of Bloch’s presentation at the 2013 IDSA International Conference. To see the presentation, please go to: To see the Smithsonian website story of Bloch and the Indiana Pinto trial, please go to http://amhistory.

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By Gretchen Gscheidle, IDSA Artist, scientist, student, teacher, optimist, realist—Gretchen Gscheidle, IDSA wears all these hats and many more in her role on Herman Miller’s R&D leadership team as the director of insight and exploration. She has one of the best jobs—and coolest titles—in the company.



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© 2013 Herman Miller Inc.


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e all have an inner compass, developed over time, that helps us decide what is right (or wrong) for us as individuals. Our compasses may be influenced by other people, but they are uniquely our own. Organizations have them too; sometimes they’re called tenets. A tenet, according to

Merriam-Webster, is “a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession.” At Herman Miller, we apply our design tenets to almost everything we do: products, communications, buildings and interiors, hospitality and experiences.

Photos: Herman Miller Inc.

To be sure, Herman Miller has no proprietary Some years ago, I shared with Innovation a rights to any of these tenets. Many people look at glimpse inside the Herman Miller culture on a design as we do. Together these tenets provide somber note; after Bill Stumpf, IDSA died in 2006, us a clear, consistent view of design that helps I wrote a tribute for these pages. Stumpf was a us express who we are and gives us a way to mentor and friend whose passing led me windmeasure our work, challenging us to live up to our ingly down a path to meeting people who in time own standards. became new mentors and friends, including Mark Before this issue of Innovation, the tenets have Dziersk, FIDSA (who invited me to be guest editor rarely been shared beyond the company walls, for this issue) and Joe Schwartz (executive emerigenerally just with visiting designers. And they restus at Herman Miller and one of my invited authors). onate! Sharing them with Mark Dziersk, FIDSA was All three helped prepare me in different ways for the genesis of this issue; I hope that sharing them my current role leading the insight and exploration with all of you now will be as much about your team in Herman Miller’s R&D organization. Watercarrier sculpture organization as it is about Herman Miller. Hugh De That is not my only role in the company; I’m by Allan Houser at also a Watercarrier, an honor reserved for those Herman Miller MainSite; Pree once questioned how without understanding design we could “communicate the advantages of who have reached 20 years of employment. Zeeland, MI. design to our employees and customers.” I ask, Tribal water carriers are responsible for one of what are your design beliefs, your tenets? What is your conthe body’s and spirit’s most basic elements. Our corporate struct for measuring your design work? Watercarriers are charged with mentoring newcomers and Using the 10 tenets as a backbone, I invited associates sharing our tribal stories and heritage. I’m proud to be a with a place in our company’s design story, past or present, Herman Miller Watercarrier and an active contributor to our to write about one. The guest authors had nothing more to rich design heritage. The Watercarrier spirit of storytelling start with than a prompt of what we, corporately, believe motivates me to present our design tenets to you and the best exemplifies that tenet in our organization and a soliciresulting view of our corporate culture at Herman Miller. tous email from me. Some of the exemplars will be familiar Recognizing a need to be clear about our view of to you; others give a glimpse into a particular part of Herman design, six colleagues combed the archives a year or so Miller, such as Marigold Lodge. I trust you’ll enjoy and share ago and curated a master list of 10 qualities of good design my appreciation as to where these guest authors, and the that has come to be known internally as the Herman Miller accompanying responses from design students and young Design Tenets. They are the sum thinking of our collecprofessionals, take the tenets. And I hope you’ll enjoy contive design brain trust, including Gilbert Rohde, George templating these tenets from your own perspective, perhaps Nelson, FIDSA, Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, formulating ones of your own. Robert Propst, Stumpf, Herman Miller’s founder, D.J. I extend a sincere thanks to Clark Malcolm, a friend De Pree, and corporate leaders Hugh and Max De Pree. and mentor in his own right, and all of my guest authors, We’re grateful for all they entrusted to us, including D.J.’s including special and poignant recognition for Studio 7.5’s admonition that “Good design isn’t just good business, it’s Claudia Plikat. Described as 7.5’s “moral compass,” Claudia a moral obligation.” Think about that. I know Stumpf did, died during preparations for this issue. We all miss her. n many of us do.

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By Jack Kelley, L/IDSA and Joe Schwartz n




f you’re reading this, you’re probably human—and able to experience pain and discomfort, both physically and mentally. Good designs help people do what they need and want to do in a way that’s easy— not a test of strength, physically awkward or mentally taxing. The best designs help people practice the

art of daily living, from the routine to the adventuresome, even better than they imagined they could.

Metaform Portfolio consists of a collection of modular blocks and purposeful accessories that can be configured into a variety of work settings. Its lightweight and intuitive components enable an individual or team to easily adapt Metaform to the task at hand.

When designing graphics, interfaces, experiences, interiors or products for humans, it’s good to inject empathy. Menus with small, faint type may be stylish, but in dimly lit restaurants, they’re also hurdles between us and an enjoyable meal. Robert Propst had empathy. A bad back led to his standing up to work. Before the physiological benefits of postural change had been scientifically documented, Propst advocated for the freedom to work in different postures. Many human-centered design decisions in the 1960s were similarly intuitive. Anthropometry and ergonomics, relatively new disciplines then, simply hadn’t yet produced the data available today. At the time, Doug Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute was working on augmented human intellect and all that entailed: input devices, 40-pound CRT monitors and a computer half the size of a racquetball court. Engelbart’s


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team considered the work exciting; they didn’t care if they were sitting on orange crates. But a human needs analysis identified problems with their nonhuman-factored environment. Secondary to the technology, the computer operators were forced to work only one way before an intervention from Propst’s team at Herman Miller mobilized the equipment to be relocated up, down and around. In December 1968, at the Fall Joint Computer Conference, Engelbart demonstrated what would come to be known as videoconferencing and the computer mouse in “The Mother of All Demos,” aided by Propst’s Action Office, the industry’s first systems furniture. Propst’s disciplined observation of people’s behaviors and body movements were the basis for concepts like using the verticality of space for locating users’ tools to optimize worker comfort, fit and efficiency of movement. In fact, a central focus of Action Office, as originally conceived, was “human performers” and helping them work, think and feel better. When Gilbert Rohde joined the Herman Miller Furniture Company in 1930 as its first designer, he taught company owner D.J. De Pree that designing for people was a better business than just building furniture. Indeed, as warhorses who were part of Action Office’s creation (Kelley in R&D, Schwartz in marketing), we saw Action Office move Herman Miller from a marginally profitable, privately owned business to a big-revenue, publically owned corporation. Yet we know that being human centered does not end with a product’s design; it extends to its application. We have lived to see the misapplication of Action Office mute the human-centered qualities of an empathic design and provide Dilbert with decades’ worth of material. Let’s hope that human-centered products today are not only designed for people but applied in the best interest of all us human performers in the 21st century. n

Jack Kelley, IDSA—problem solver, sailor and oldest living Herman Miller industrial designer—was instrumental in the invention and design of the industry-changing Action Office system, introduced in 1968. n “Broadway Joe” Schwartz joined Herman Miller in 1954, worked closely with the Eames, Nelson and Girard offices during the 1950s and 1960s, and led the introduction of Robert Propst’s Action Office system. An executive emeritus, Schwartz retired in 1986.

“Design begins with people.” Illustration and photo: Herman Miller Inc.

—Herman Miller Inc.

A human-centered office floorplan designed for interaction and collaboration, and Metaform.

We Design for People


oday we are dealing with a new kind of buyer. Armed with Internet research and Born from ethnographic research and online reviews, more people go into their local big-box retailers already knowhuman behavior studies, Delta® Touch2O® ing what product they want to purchase. This puts even more emphasis on the Technology is intuitive, allowing a simple design of the product, its function and ease of use. Enter human-centered design. tap anywhere on the faucet spout, hub or Simply put, a great product is one that works well. When it comes to designing handle to activate the flow of water. for people, human-centered design not only makes sense but results in the best posPhoto: Delta Faucet Co. sible solution. At The Delta Faucet Company, we strive for continual innovation in our product lines. To improve a design we begin at the end, with the consumer. Using hidden cameras we observe people in their everyday environments (with their permission, of course, no need for a lawsuit). This allows us to see things they do not. Often people compensate for flaws in product design without even realizing it. A great example of this would be our faucets with Touch2O® Technology. Through observation, we found people would leave their kitchen faucet running when their hands were full or covered in raw chicken because they could not easily reach the faucet’s handle or did not want to risk cross contamination. By enabling users to activate the flow of water by tapping anywhere on the faucet’s spout, hub or handle with a forearm, wrist or even their nose, they can more easily turn off the water between tasks while also reducing the spread of kitchen messes. I find myself stopping and asking “why” as I go about daily tasks. Am I subconsciously aware of a better showerhead design? Why does the toilet lid function that way? Could my towel bar be doing more? As we look forward in our product plan, human-centered design becomes essential. With so many competing brands, the extra time spent on the front-end research will be what sends people to the store requesting our product. —Jordan Bahler, IDSA, Delta Faucet Company

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By Gianfranco Zaccai, FIDSA


Co-founder of Continuum, Gianfranco Zaccai, FIDSA has led research and design teams to innovations in products for the home, sports equipment, merchandising and health care industries, including the Compass system for Herman Miller.


Photos: Herman Miller Inc.



esigners like problems, large and small. Problems stimulate creativity, and solving problems gives our work

purpose. Once we think we understand the nature of a problem, we seek perfectly elegant solutions. Of course, perfection is never attainable, but we try.


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“What’s the problem? Are you solving something?

Or just designing to design? These are questions we ask ourselves every day.

—Herman Miller Inc. Striving to understand the nature of problems, we know people’s desires and aspirations can elevate a solution from eliminating Henry Dreyfuss’ “points of irritation” to creating points of delight. Without delight there can be no perfection. Perfection is never attainable, but we try. Addressing problems and leveraging opportunities for delight, we discover that people sometimes have conflicting irritations and delights. Without addressing the needs and desires of all, there can be no perfection. Perfection is never attainable, but we try. As we seek to solve and delight, the equation is continuously changed by creating and making obsolete technologies, procedures and organizational structures. Innovation produces unintended consequences. Without anticipating this constant evolution, there can be no perfection. Perfection is never attainable, but we try. Good design should be timeless. Technologies, procedures, organizational structures and legislation change things in fundamental ways. People’s needs, hopes and aspirations differ and change. The once perfectly cool and compelling often become tomorrow’s landfill. Perfection is never attainable, but we try. In 2007 Herman Miller asked Continuum to research and conceptualize the ideal hospital patient room. The more we delved into the problem, the more we realized there was no single perfect solution. Health care is complex, dynamic and constantly evolving. Patients, caregivers, families, planners, administrators and legislators all experience different parts of the health care elephant. In health care, only the desire for human interaction is timeless. We began to think of cycles in the lives of people, contexts, places, products and dynamic elements and that we needed to design for flexibility, context-specific customization and constant change. Eventually, the teams at Continuum and Herman Miller produced the Compass system, which is uniquely purposeful for various stages of life, yet facilitates constant change over time. A system that allows planners, patients, caregivers and even families to design, redesign or modify a patient room as needed. All design is purposeful. The questions are: What purpose? For whom? When? How and for how long? One perfect solution may not be possible. Doing more more often for more people over a longer period with less may be the new definition of timeless design. n

Design Solves a Problem


idway through completing my undergraduate degree in industrial design at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I second-guessed if I was cut out for a career in design at all. My development of the traditional industrial design problem-solving skill set (e.g., rendering, sketching and building) was not yet up to par and more importantly was resulting in uninspiring products, solving no real-life problems. I needed a new way of looking at design. It all started my senior year. One afternoon I stood in front of a whiteboard filled with scribbled sticky notes harvested from my first consumer interviews and observational research. From these thematic clusters of notes, design opportunities emerged. I beamed with inspiration. It would take this method of problemsolving (i.e., talking to the users and exploring environments, situations and endless possibilities) to pave the way for my future success in design. The second Herman Miller tenet describes the importance of using research to help solve problems. As an undergraduate enthused by those sticky notes, I discovered this on my own; this method of designing became precedence for my future work and would be at the core of my design philosophy from then on. In 2011 I attempted to try out my new design method on my senior thesis, Senseables (above), which was designed to help children with autism learn to tie and zipper their clothes. This design would later receive the Core77 International Design Award in the research and strategy student category, only validating my design philosophy further. Today I am working as a user experience specialist at GfK Custom Research. I make sure that the products traditional designers render, sketch and build solve the problems they were intended to solve and do so effectively. As I move forward in my career, my work will continue to be fueled by that fateful day standing in front of the whiteboard of sticky notes. In order to challenge myself in my future endeavors, I must never stop asking the question, does this design solve a problem and does it do so effectively? I know that if I listen to my intuition and continue to plant myself in a space with potential for meaningful opportunities, good design will follow. —Hannah Duffy, IDSA, GfK Custom Research, LLC

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By Studio 7.5




he English language has more words than German and usually offers a more finely differentiated range of meanings. The word “integrity� seems to be an exception.

That the word is analogous in both languages may be a result of its

Herman Miller Inc.

Latin origin and also its very meaning: consistent and honest.


Studio 7.5 has redefined collaborative design. The four principals and team in Berlin have created successful chairs for Herman Miller, setting new standards for ergonomic and environmental performance, including Setu, a 2010 IDSA Design of the Decade award winner.

“Integrity. You can’t have too much.” —Herman Miller Inc.

Everything Relates to the Problem


ne of the biggest challenges we as industrial designers face is designing with integrity. When given the task of making new products, it is easy to get caught up in making our work stand out. But designing with integrity means cutting out the fluff. Rather than exaggerating the value or features of a product, true design done with integrity reflects a transparent view of value that doesn’t need words to be explained. When products are designed with integrity, the customers can intuitively experience how their needs are met with the solution that has been provided. Every design decision is now on trial. To pass the test, our customers have to experience purpose in the function, materials and value used to bring that product to life. In order to design with integrity, we have to know our customers: not what we think the customers want, but truly understand their needs, wants and desires. All of these play a critical part in the individual decisions we make for each product. What I have learned in my career so far is that in order to truly understand your customers and design with integrity, this design tenent has to be firmly rooted within the organization you support. At Dell, our design work is fundamentally based on empowering our customers—this means making calculated decisions that build trust in our products by focusing on innovative solutions that customers find valuable. Our challenge is to filter every design decision we make through the lens of integrity. We need to ensure that customers trust our products to meet their needs—nothing more, nothing less. Only then can we design with integrity and truly make an impact in the lives of our customers. —Kevin Terwilliger, IDSA, Dell Computer

Photos: Dell Computer Co.

The concept of integrity is so holistic and all-encompassing that you will find it applied as a judgment of moral standards or as a gauge of the structural quality of a building. Integrity can also qualify design, since design is an antidote to specialization. Design addresses human perception, and perception has no departments—it is always holistic. Our senses might represent different channels, but in judging those different sensations, we should take them all into account. If something looks inviting but does not feel that way, we sense deceit. If something works fine but its details lack thoughtfulness, we feel repelled. Integrity in the context of design means taking into account all the viewpoints and all the aspects of perceivable quality. The human being who uses a particular design will experience all of its dimensions, and so as designers we have to address each and every one of those dimensions. Integrity is sometimes viewed as uncompromising; this seems to contradict its holistic concept. But integrity in design means exactly that—being uncompromising and yet weighing all possible factors. That is probably why Charles Eames stressed the importance of constraints. They are not an obstacle to quality; they are the only way to quality. Nobody said it would be easy. To achieve integrity in design, you have to start with an open mind, then find, gather and interpret the bread crumbs on the journey. Read the constraints and integrate them instead of dismissing them. Put everything under the domain of purpose. Do not simply give form—try finding it. In discovering your design, you have to test it, try, fail and test it again. And if you can maintain an open mind throughout this journey, you will at some point realize when you have arrived at integrity. You can only find integrity; you cannot make it up. n

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By Don Chadwick Don Chadwick has delivered many successful designs for work environments. His collaborations with Bill Stumpf produced Herman Miller’s highly innovative Equa chair, a Time Design of the Decade, and the iconic Aeron chair, an IDSA Design of the Decade.




oth George Nelson and Charles Eames had a major influence on my approach to design. Their curiosity about and observations of the world around us stimulated their discoveries of new materials and processes that in large part explain why their designs remain wonderful examples

of the original and timeless.

Photos, unless otherwise noted: Herman Miller Inc.

Both Nelson and Eames were strong believers in the honest use of materials and exploiting them to the maximum. Just think of Eames’ experiments with forming plies of wood veneer or Nelson’s fascination with the material sprayed on retired naval ships as weather protection, which he translated into his famous bubble lamps. This whole process of constant experimentation with materials provided a priceless legacy for our generation of designers. We worked with Herman Miller Aeron chair kinematic motion analysis.


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to plan and carry out the research necessary to accomplish the long-term goal of producing unique products. The Nelson and Eames spirit of experimentation and curiosity laid a good foundation for us and the company. Being original has its price, and it isn’t easy—the copies never measure up. Just look at the number of cheap, misguided copies of the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman that have appeared over the years since the original’s introduction in 1956. I still shake my head at the count-

We Don’t Copy


rushing your teeth is not an original act. There have literally been hundreds of toothbrush designs through the years. Just think back to your many trips to the dentist. Have you ever gotten the same toothbrush twice? Well maybe, but probably not more than twice. That’s because there’s always a new spin or product endorsement that’s rolling through the dental hygiene ecosystem. Brighter colors, squishier grips, flashier packaging and toothbrush commercials just as glamorous as the ones for the newest car on the market. Besides the new colors and shapes, all toothbrushes are the same at their core. The experience is the same, the function is the same and the understanding of how to use them is the same. All that’s changed is the aesthetic. So how can there possibly be original design in a sector that’s already oversaturated in iteration? By having a new approach and an original idea of what it means to use a toothbrush. While in undergrad I recall being presented with the story of the OHSO toothbrush (below). It was by all accounts the most interesting interpretation of a toothbrush I had ever seen and probably one of the flashiest at the time. As the story goes, the OHSO toothbrush didn’t originally have a name. While in development, the design team would show the work to their peers, and when they weren’t quite sure what to make of the design, the team would explain. The reaction of their peers would always be, “Oh. So it’s a toothbrush!” Hence, the name. What makes the OHSO so unique less mesh chairs finding their way into the market since the Aeron chair introduced the idea of mesh (among other innovations) at Orgatec in Germany in 1994. There will always be a market for copies among poorly informed buyers seeking price over quality and originality. Likewise, many risk-averse companies wander the halls of the latest furniture fairs licking their chops for the opportunity to sink their teeth into the meat of the next knock off. Copies are said to be a form of flattery. I don’t agree. And people who are stuck with copies eventually discover their shortcomings in quality and function. We need to preserve, protect and nurture designers and companies that take risks and seek to explore the frontiers that lead to more innovation. Those who wish to copy will always be there waiting to prey on true originality. In the end, the prospect of being copied only further motivates the risk takers to invest in the tools and knowledge that will take them on the road to the next discovery. Take lots of curiosity, add research, mix in unabashed desire, sprinkle on intuition and you have the best recipe for the original. n

is its high-end look and functionality. With this design, the toothpaste is stored inside the toothbrush and delivered right onto the bristles with a simple twist of the handle. The OHSO toothbrush demonstrates what it means to have originality in design. At its heart it’s still a toothbrush, but it has become something else as well: a new idea and experience built from an original thought that was cleanly executed in a way that is easy to understand while being packaged in a desirable form. Sure there are flashy objects out there that demonstrate original design, but that’s just the point. Even the everyday and mundane can be brought to life through an original thought and design process. Originality in design will always be in the details of the experience. —Jason Tropp, Industrial Designers Society of America

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By Andrea Nelson Andrea Nelson researches new materials and processes. As a project manager, she maintains Herman Miller’s material database and designs and maintains material marketing tools. She currently serves on Kansas State University’s Interior Architecture and Product Design Professional Advisory Board.




uality or the lack thereof is something we sense immediately. Quality is the emotional response we feel when we first see something; a high-quality product makes us feel good, both mentally and physically. When you experience a well-crafted design, you know it. Over time, quality is

When we first see a quality product, the materials and overall form are immediately evident. Then, curiously, we wonder about the materials, reaching to feel the soft luxury of fabric, the coldness of metal or the smoothness of wood. It is possible that once we begin to experience the product, we can smell it, often in the materials, such as leather. We can even sometimes hear quality, as in the smooth tone of a wind chime. The materials, craft, details and care taken in creating a product all contribute to the perception of quality. “The details are not the details. They make the product,” said Charles Eames.


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Creations by Kenneth Nelson.

also further realized. The dedication Charles and Ray Eames had to design and craft is embodied in the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, produced continuously since 1956. A high-quality product need not have a high price tag. Think of a seemingly simple trinket box. When materials are optimized to showcase their inherent properties and aesthetics and when there’s precision in the connections and joints, these elements speak to the craft and pride that created the piece and make the box more than just a box. As a child, I remember watching my grandfather, a hobbyist woodworker. He

The Quality of Our Work Is Evident

“The details are not the details.

They make the product.

—Charles Eames

built clocks, elaborate hand-carved beds and wardrobes, chairs, kitchen cabinets—the list goes on. I remember watching him work on his wood carvings and being enamored by his attention to detail. I was so curious about how he came to a certain form and then how he continued to take small slivers of wood out of the form to create the desired outcome. Every little detail was purposeful and carefully considered. The quality of a product begins at the conception of the idea and follows through to the creation of the product, whether it is constructed by hand or machine. Considering functionality, materials and how the parts fit together in a purposeful way and ensuring that the product is well-suited to the method of production all contribute to the overall quality. If one of these components is missing, quality suffers. n

Jon Langer


esigning with quality as a priority is a way to demonstrate and express care, thoroughness and trust for the user. To engineer these assets into existence is a challenging task that often leads to failure and naiveté if attention to detail is not met. Designing a quality object with details that are noticed by artists and engineers alike often results in the beauty being hidden by the object’s successful use. It is said that only bad designs are noticed, but why? Dieter Rams says good design is innovative, useful, aesthetic, understandable, honest, long-lasting, unobtrusive, thorough down to the last detail, environBioPutty is an experimental material mentally friendly and as that is made for filtering carbon based little design as possible. toxins out of runoff. It is currently in the testing process. However, do these characteristics represent all the facets of quality design? I believe that they all are crucial to the design process, that is, except for the last one. A quality design is not as little design as possible. Design is background, it is history, and it is a learned understanding of what came before us. It means trying to help a user who otherwise has no other way of solving a problem. It means taking a step back to look at the whole issue, and then taking two steps forward right into it. To design an experience of quality, the problem needs to be thought through and through, holistically and, most importantly, with the utmost of empathy. The better the sense of empathy, the higher the quality that design will be; this is because understanding the user is what designers are here for. We translate the problems of others and channel them through a process of research, creativity and science in order to form a solution. Even when our designs do not come to fruition, they have inspired, provoked and stoked the fire in the hopes of problem solving. Regardless of the outcome, this process teaches us and even helps us improve our design methods. Quality designs are not easily made; they are tough to achieve because they require solving tough problems. But these tough problems are worth solving because when we succeed we make a difference. Design affects people’s quality of life, so if we can design better, we can live better. In each of my designs I strive to take a step further in solving one of the bigger problems that affect people every day. —Jon Langer, Syracuse University

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By Matthew Stares Matthew Stares is director of places and real estate development at Herman Miller, overseeing all aspects of global real estate and development. A qualified architect, Stares believes our environments are integral contributors to our culture as well as to individual and corporate performance.




hile you may think environmental advocacy is a relatively modern subject, Herman Miller Furniture

Company President D.J. De Pree defined it early in the organization’s 108-year history in 1953: “We will be good stewards of the environment.” This perspective has become intertwined with Herman Miller’s beliefs about design and now influences almost every decision about new products and facilities.


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D.J.’s son Max, best known for his books about leadership, was, in many ways, the patron of Herman Miller’s architecture. During the company’s most aggressive periods of growth in the 1970s and 1980s, he established a number of principles relating to the impact of buildings on the environment, for example that every site should maintain at least 50 percent green space. A third influence on Herman Miller’s environmental advocacy were the architects who taught the company so much over the years. The Los Angeles architect A. Quincy Jones taught us the overwhelming importance of “the indeterminate building,” which has allowed us to repurpose and adapt buildings over time—perhaps the best and simplest way of minimizing the effects of buildings on the environment. In 1995 William McDonough led the design team that developed our GreenHouse production facility, following biologist John Todd’s idea that a building should be a “living machine” rather than a machine for living. In 2000 the building won a LEED Pioneer Award. McDonough confirmed the strong link between a point of view about design and environment advocacy. A Design for the Environment (DfE) program began in the early 1990s and now includes

Always Protect the Environment


Herman Miller Inc.

—D.J. De Pree

Herman Miller GreenHouse; Holland, MI.

the McDonough Braungart Cradle to Cradle protocol for new products. Herman Miller has been fortunate to have these three clear sources of environmental inspiration. A grass-roots effort (formalized in 1991 in Environmental Quality Action Teams, which consist largely of employee-volunteers, company leaders and environmental thinkers outside the company) led Herman Miller to recycling in 1974, generating electricity in the early 1980s, helping to found the Tropical Woods Foundation in 1990 and the U.S. Green Building Council in 1993, setting zero footprint goals in 2010, and becoming 100 percent powered by green energy in 2011. While scorecards and guidelines can help chart a company’s progress, they are a small part of a mindset that goes beyond compliance to leadership. We will soon begin an effort to become net-zero consumers of energy and water. Is Herman Miller perfect? No, of course not. Have we reached all our goals? No, and we may never reach all of them. But every day we try to live up to D.J. De Pree’s deep sense of responsibility and become “good stewards of the environment.” n

—Travis Andren, IDSA, Kohler


“ good stewards of the environment.”

f it is truly our goal to be great ancestors, we as product designers hold the responsibility for our artifacts and their embedded energy. Some argue that the transfer of ownership through purchase does not signify a transfer of the responsibility for the embedded energy. This viewpoint indicates that designers and manufacturers need to manage this responsibility through design practices and product reclamation programs. The tenet of sustainability can fundamentally be approached as responsible management of the embedded energy within a product’s life cycle. The ability to understand and recognize where this energy is embedded requires rapid in-depth life-cycle assessments. Since the entrapment of energy is unavoidable, the obligation to optimize, preserve and reclaim as much as possible often falls upon the responsible selection of materials and processes during the development stages. The ability to map and compare various alternatives, which provide the design and engineering roles with testable results to improve upon, is as important as any rapid prototyping capability. Thankfully, the idea that everything connects set the foundation for life-cycle analysis, which now enables designers to prototype a product life cycle down to the caloric level of the user in order to reveal opportunities and downfalls of embedded energies more clearly than ever before. It is my goal to help my product teams to expedite this process as fast and accurately as possible through concept to production development. Having worked with industry-leading professionals like Steve Belletire, IDSA (co-author of the Okala Practitioner) and The Sustainability Consortium, I continually pursue lower impact factors and improved end-of-life considerations. We can thank the likes of William McDonough, Victor Papanek, L/IDSA and others for giving us the foundational education. It is now up to us to enable these processes to happen more fluidly and frequently.

This concept by The Sustainability Consortium for Wal-Mart is intended to share the cooling demand of the short freezers and tall coolers. The circular arrangement enables customers to view all coolers from a single vantage point and reduces lighting energy through motion activation (

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By Yves Béhar, IDSA Yves Béhar, founder of fuseproject in San Francisco and designer of the SAYL chair for Herman Miller, has shaped the world of design with his thoughtful creations, concern for the environment and social issues, and approach to craft and new materials.




o my team at fuseproject I often say, We are not designing things, we are designing ideas. More specifically, what I am trying to say is, We are giving life to new ideas. The choices we as designers make early in a project are to express the most compelling 21st-century ideas.

Every designer, every maker starts with the notion of giving the world something new, something useful, something beautiful. The atoms (products and things) need to be more relevant in the 21st century: durable, sustainable, affordable and customizable. The bits (software, apps and experiences) need to deliver experience, beauty and function and anticipate individual needs. Both atoms and bits are the building blocks of the businesses and brands being created right now. Do people want to own what we make? Yes. When successful, design makes money. Steve Jobs and Apple have decidedly given designers credibility in business. But every great designer or maker I know begins at the intersection of two seemingly opposite instincts: making something people want and searching for something that has not been done before. Designers want to please and disrupt the status quo at the same time. And so almost by default, good design accelerates the adoption of new ideas. This new century is about disrupting all the old industries. Designers, coders and entrepreneurs are challenging notions that sustainability is expensive, that technology is hard to use, that quality is exclusive, that mass production means unified goods and experiences. Utility and beauty cannot be separated anymore. I have no doubt that beauty enhances a product’s function, while experience and user interface, at their best, create long-term relationships with a product. As to functionality, we now find clever mechanisms and good ergonomics quite attractive. Charles Eames’ “good goods” notion is definitely upon us.


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But the new energy of technology, materials, sensors and the cloud are challenging the notion of one size fits all. Function and beauty are being sliced and diced to individuals’ needs. The perfect storm is upon us: the melding of technology and new behaviors. Just-in-time consumption and have-it-my-way consumer expectation brought to us by the Internet are changing product- and experience-making. And there is no going back. Products are starting to adapt, learn and evolve by being cognizant of our behavior through cloud connections, providing small and large companies with the data to make further improvements. Customized experiences and personal data serving an ever-refined world of choice will be a de-facto expectation as personal fit and finish is incorporated in production processes and efficient local manufacturing is being developed everywhere. The result? People will feel more connected to the things they own. The generosity consumers experience in products and interfaces will produce more personal engagement with companies that are good at developing systems that breed ongoing relationships and trust. This is good news for large people-focused enterprises. It’s also good news for makers and entrepreneurs who self-finance or crowdfund through sites like Kickstarter. Design’s generous instinct will be returned in great multiples. Advertising and marketing will take cues from design and will become more culturally centered and generous themselves. It’s a cycle: Good design attracts better design. And we will all be better for it. n

“One or the other isn’t so difficult. Either or is the easy way out. But to achieve both at the same time, well that’s really something!” —Herman Miller Inc.

Do People Want It?


t first glance, beauty and usefulness seem like timeless qualities. They are actually moving targets, and achieving them requires both an unfettered imagination and a deep understanding of the end user’s ever-changing needs and desires. These are core skills for an industrial designer. The question of how beauty and usefulness will impact my future is really a question of how to stay relevant in the face of changing tastes and expectations. As a designer, part of my job is to bring together new and unique markets with products that are revolutionary in what they do, how they look and how they’re used. This can certainly be tricky. When you look back on memorable designs, they are a commentary on their time. They may stretch the limits of technology, they might take advantage of new production methods, or they may push the boundaries or define new materials. These innovations enable a visual and functional harmony to be achieved. I believe that creating products that are both useful and beautiful requires designers to constantly hone their talents, to become experts in those new technologies and materials, and to work with people in as many other professions as possible. In other words, we must all remain students. With the knowledge that consumer expectations change and satisfaction has a short wick, we have to stay cognizant of the past while keeping our eyes toward the future. There certainly is no lack of talent, so never stop learning and always stay humble. —Craig Mackiewicz, IDSA, Altair Thinklabs Courtesy of Jawbone

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By Steve Frykholm Steve Frykholm, who became Herman Miller’s first internal graphic designer in 1970, received the AIGA Medal in 2010 for “crafting a body of corporate design work for Herman Miller that is as personable, memorable and innovative as the brand itself.” He’s been recognized as an annual report legend in Graphis and an American design icon in the 50th anniversary issue of Communication Arts.




remember a conversation I had several years ago with designer Deborah Sussman about a particular design. She said, “It just makes

your heart beat a little faster.” I can’t think of a bet-

Photos, unless otherwise noted: Herman Miller Inc.

ter definition of spirited design.

Spirited communications often result from a close-knit team of creative writer, illustrator and designer. An imaginative interpretation of the writer’s words and the ideas behind the words from the illustrator is key.

Spirited design evokes some kind of emotion in everyone, whether a smile or a grimace, although it’s usually delight. I don’t consciously say to myself, “I’m going to design something that will be spirited.” In the end, other people decide whether my designs are spirited or not. But I do try to understand the design problem that needs to be solved and think about a solution that’s original, unexpected and imaginative. The more I unleash my imagination, the easier it is to do something spirited. It’s like exercise for the creative parts of our brain. Simply working on something that we want to imbue with spirit is fun too. Spirited designs are usually driven by the vision of an individual or a small group of like-minded people. They rarely result from group consensus. Risk-taking is an ingredient. I also believe that spirited designs and organizations are more memorable than something expected, traditional or ordinary. Being spirited always adds something to an organization’s image and bottom line. Why be normal? n Frykholm designed 20 posters for the company picnic. They are large, screen printed, colorful and somewhat abstract. Large, according to him, because that’s what posters should be; screen printed and colorful to make them yummy like the food; abstract and drawn from the view point of the Lilliputians for intrigue. 46

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There was nothing ordinary about this Herman Miller publication: rich and diverse in illustration, photography, layout and content. Designer Todd Richards raised his editorial design abilities to new levels, and editor Clark Malcolm chose unexpected editorial themes with articles written by an insightful group of writers. The energized and passionate team worked hard knowing something special was in the works.


have a pair of fancy socks. They are gray with tangerine and aqua argyle stitching. An interesting thing happens when I wear them: I always have a good day. It isn’t by surprise; they are, after all, my favorite pair of socks. It’s amazing that certain products have the ability to project their spirit on the user. Design always echoes the designer. There is no way to avoid that. I want to communicate not only what I have experienced in the past but also include what I aspire to be. Moving forward, I want to be known for my playfulness, respected for my passion and drive, and concerned with how people grow with their products. No one ever said, “I need less humor in my life.” Whether it’s by introducing nostalgic elements into my work or throwing an awkward smile on an iPad, I want to be fearlessly adventurous in the problem-solving process, and trust that it will translate to the finished product.

Benjamin Bush

Does It Reflect the Company?

Playfulness is important, but many of us know that without drive and attention to detail, little would get accomplished. Design education has taught me many lessons; one of those is that passion for great design is contagious. If people want to be excellent at what they do, they must surround themselves with others who share the same desire for success. A healthy attention to detail combined with a playful approach is imperative but will be sadly misguided if not framed within a hospitable perspective. I believe there is a growing interest in products that ripen with age: products that are purchased not only for what they are but for what they will be. People need fancy socks in their lives, and I want to be the one providing them. —Benjamin Bush, IDSA, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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By Tim Straker As director of global customer experience, Tim Straker guides the way customers experience Herman Miller. With over 28 years of experience in brand, product and experience design, he has consulted with brands ranging from the Food Network and Lowe’s to Apple and Adobe Systems.




he ability to surprise and delight is most effective when it feels effortless, like a natural state of mind. It requires anticipation, knowing what the typical experience is and bettering it somehow— maybe with a little more civility, empathy or just plain thoughtfulness. Bill Stumpf called this qual-

ity an “inner goodness,” a function, feature or dimension that we notice only in use and which proves the

Photos: Herman Miller Inc.

forethought of the designer.

Herman Miller Marigold Lodge; Holland, MI.

Hospitality is a good example of something that should feel natural in use and intent. Treat your guests like family and your family like guests, mostly because the principle of being thoughtful applies to both groups. Being honest, genuine and natural translates across cultures and continents.

Going above and beyond isn’t complicated. The thoughtfulness of the effort goes back to basic rules of etiquette taught by our mothers. My mother always went the extra mile to be a gracious host in our home and made it seem effortless. She preplanned the meal and kitchen prep so that she could spend time with her guests. She kept notes about what kind of experiences her guests had the last time she hosted them, from what she served to the mix of company and topics. She made a point to be interested in their lives, careers, family and community involvement to make connections and keep conversation lively. Whether visiting a local showroom, the west Michigan headquarters or the accommodations at our Marigold Lodge, the experience of Herman Miller’s guests goes beyond the obvious as we anticipate what will delight them: what might make a visit easier or solve a problem before it occurs and solving the problem in a spirited way that shows a willingness to do more than what is expected. Surprise and delight can be found through a warm greeting or small touch that creates a lasting impression, like packing a boxed lunch for someone whose meeting ran long and didn’t otherwise have a chance to eat before departing. The greatest gift is being considered. Going beyond expectations goes beyond the 9th design tenet. It’s part of being original, being real and being naturally human. n

“The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host,

all of whose energy goes into trying to anticipate the needs of his guests. —Charles Eames


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Produce Surprise & Delight


he obvious is mundane! Humans are creatures driven by wants and emotions and capable of fertile imagination. We go to great lengths to envision, build and fashion the environment around us. But these traits have also transformed the way we think and live. We have come to expect climaxes, twists and turns in the stories we see, hear and experience. Successful brands, products and services capture our attention, invite interaction and offer experiences that appeal to us at a deep emotional level. But with multiple messages competing for our attention, it is challenging to capture people’s mind-space. Going beyond the obvious—the expected—is a challenge, but one that allows you to make that emotional connection with consumers. Inventions are by themselves not emotionally appealing. Industries are built by developing what those inventions could mean to society—the computer, once defined mostly as a calculator, is consumed today as a pocket companion. Social acceptance of an invention is facilitated through the realization of what an artifact or venture can enable people to do. Design helps in forging that connection, repurposing the mundane into opportunities for transformation with elements of surprise and delight. Our quest for the new does not necessarily result in never-seen-before artifacts but in the constructive application of knowledge. The act of giving new meaning to the myriad developments occurring today is where designers best thrive. The art of discovering new meanings by framing and reframing opportunities is pivotal to designers as we visualize ideas and skillfully push them forward through collaboration with society and the enterprise. The undercurrents that drive us are the dreams of a future that is delightful, persuasive and beyond expectations. While the limit to such dreams is our drive and imagination, inspiration abounds in the sentiment echoed by poet, dramatist and physician Thomas Lovell Beddoes when he asked, “If there were dreams to sell, what would you buy?” —Vijay Chakravarthy, IDSA, Daedalus

Marigold Lodge’s Library meeting and dining room.

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By Laura Guido-Clark Laura Guido-Clark joined Herman Miller in 2013 as the materials creative director. She has spent her life studying the always surprising ways that humans react to the look and feel of any given product. In 2011, Laura founded Project Color Corps, dedicated to enlivening urban landscapes.




here is no internal debate. You know it right away. What you experience is completely whole, with synergistic relationships between the parts and pieces. You understand that every choice has led to this point, and in its simplicity it is perfect balance. Just right.

The experience is memorable—it leaves an imprint. Our minds make room for these truths as a benchmark for what is right. Nature is the ultimate example of inevitability. When you drive through Yosemite, no one has to remind you of its wonder. Think of architectural feats that seamlessly integrate with their surroundings, like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, with its unfolding shapes and perfect titanium surfaces. Even jokes can be just right—four small words from Henny Youngman: “Take my wife—please!” Or consider the plywood, metal, rubber and plastic that Charles and Ray Eames choreographed into the molded plywood chair, which Time magazine deemed “The Best Design of the 20th Century.” As an experience consultant, I feel deeply connected to the idea that good design is about human need and desire. My aim is to create meaning, not things, and to make emotional connections. The materials team at Herman Miller creates the skin of objects, but to do so, we must first understand their heart. Materials are multisensorial and expressive. Chosen and designed correctly, they say exactly what is intended. We remind ourselves to keep it simple: create engagement with the earnest hope for the inevitable. n


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Philippe Duvall

Illustrations: Jean Orlebeke, Obek Design

This Is the Way It Has to Be


t our most successful, we create designs that are perfectly simple and natural. Solutions this right have the elegance of a materialized formula and the beauty of sculpture. Growing up I was always trying to find a quicker way to get through my list of chores, especially when it came to cleaning the dishes after dinner. Like most kids, I didn’t enjoy the tasks I was given, but instead of sulking over the kitchen sink and worrying about the TV shows I might be missing, I began devising ways to make the job more efficient. After spending numerous hours elbow deep in dish soap, I eventually came to the conclusion that all plates and bowls should have multiple layers of paper-thin plastic adhered to them, which could be easily peeled off and thrown away. At the prime age of 12 I felt like I had come up with the next big thing. But as I have learned time and time again, first ideas are rarely the best. Looking back at

this idea, I realize how naïve I was about the negative effects that the wasted plastic would have on the environment. Nonetheless, it was the first concept of many that led me on the path to becoming an industrial designer. Although the layered dish idea may have been original, my solution wasn’t practical because it involved making a product more complex than it needed to be. Every now and then I think back to my earliest invention and try to come up with alternative solutions. Given that humans have been eating off of dishes for hundreds of years, there probably won’t be a huge change in the way we eat our food. But who knows? Maybe one day people will decide to get rid of dishes all together and start eating directly on tables that are designed for such a thing. Truly successful ideas cause people to think this is the way it has to be, but sometimes getting to that idea requires one person to think just the opposite. —Philippe Duvall, SCAD

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By John K Caruso, IDSA John K Caruso is an industrial design professor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD). The Compassion Project involved the entire college at MIAD, documentation and paper authored by Caruso who was MIAD Liaison and instructor on the project, with Pascal Malassigne, FIDSA. Ryan Ramos, IDSA was GE Healthcare Liaison overseeing workshops and corporate involvement with Robert Schwartz, FIDSA, ID students who participated were Brett Pearson, Sean Simmons, Alex Boese, Michael Stilp, Sarah Geraldson, Tim Harper, Alex Block, Chad Reichert, Amber Petrouske, Jacob Pettry and Chris Gaeta.

Using Empathy as a Means to Understand Design Thinking



n order to contribute to the richness of the education of the students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), GE Healthcare (GEHC) sponsored a one-year college-wide real-world curriculum experience: the Women’s Health Journey. The goal of the project was to create a more effective

and comfortable end-to-end patient experience, from educating women regarding preventive breast health screenings to dealing with the effects of late-stage cancer on a woman’s emotional and physical self as well as her support system. Focus was directed toward the overall experience rather than mammography machines.

GE Healthcare wanted to tap into the creative minds of MIAD students from a variety of disciplines to uncover new ways to improve the overall patient experience. For inspiration, students were encouraged to draw upon their own personal experience with mammography, the breast cancer diagnosis or treatment of a friend or relative, independent research and classroom discussion. All age groups of women, as well as local and global implications, were taken into consideration in the students’ work. GE Healthcare provided some thought-starters broken into three categories: communication and messaging, emotions and compassion, and logistics. The prompts included such things as How can we improve the overall messaging around mammography, the importance of regular screenings, preventive measures for reducing the risk of breast cancer, etc.? How can we alleviate the perception of fear in women who associate mammograms with breast cancer and death in spite of the favorable statistics associated with early detection? How can we make screenings more comfortable (emotionally and physically) for women?

The initial reception of the project was an overwhelming call to action. The scope was enormous and perplexed many of the students and faculty. There was a need for reflection, discussion and a plan for how to take on a project of this magnitude. Too Many Problems! Of the three categories suggested (communication, emotions and logistics) at first glance industrial design only fit into the final category of logistics. At this point in the project the language was directing the students to consider ideas and concepts regarding spaces for medical objects as well as the experience equipment used in medical procedures. Half of the industrial design students began their projects in this category. It should be noted that GE Healthcare’s director of design emphatically stated that he “did not want students re-designing mammography machines or diagnostic devices that GEHC designs and manufactures; that was not what this project is about.” Furthermore, GE Healthcare did not want to provide a detailed project scope or product direction. The company was looking for new innovative and “undiscovered country.”

“The Compassion Project: Using Empathy as a Means to Understand Design Thinking” by John K Caruso, IDSA was selected as the IDSA Best Education Paper for 2013. Understanding not only tangible issues but also feelings of people is empirical for creating better solutions to problems. It can be even more influential when design students work with industry partners in multidisciplinary collaboration to deal with the real contexts. This paper showcases a thorough project that involved design and other disciplines to immerse into the problem of health care in order to deliver “real” solutions for those in need. —Sooshin Choi, IDSA, IDSA Education VP 52

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GE Healthcare research wall codifying meaning.

The lack of specifics and directing students away from diagnostic machinery was another challenging message for the industrial design students who were trying to wrap their heads around what they could design. Early on, it became obvious that faculty would need to lead and guide students through the process of research and discovery, particularly with the almost invisible problems of behavior and routine in the medical procedures. This was coordinated with multiple visits and feedback sessions from GE Healthcare’s design staff. It required students to get out of their comfort zone by talking with people and discovering what really occurs in a hospital setting. It was clear from the onset that the first category of communication would be a natural fit for the communication design and graphic design disciplines, and that all students would attempt to address the issues of the second category, emotions and compassion. Compassion became the basis for the description and focus of the entire project based on the thoughts and interpretations of Kim Miller, a professor of first-year studies, who set her students to explore these issues through film, photography and writing. She focused the class with many readings and quotes, including one from Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others: “Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers. The question of what to do with the feelings that have been aroused, the knowledge

that has been communicated. If one feels that there is nothing ‘we’ can do—but who is that ‘we’?—and nothing ‘they’ can do either—and who are ‘they’—then one starts to get bored, cynical, apathetic.” The Spinning Compass of Empathy There was clearly an opportunity to do anything, which can be daunting to design students who are used to a specific project scope and a definitive objective or problem to solve. There was no object to redesign, but there were many problems to explore. Indecision and the enormity of the final outcome—serious health issues and potential death— became an intimidating project for all involved. Where do we go from here? One thing was true: Everybody wanted to help; everybody wanted to do the right thing. The answer was to trust the process: Find out what cancer patients go through and gain first-hand experience with the situation, if possible; talk to the patients, the nurses, the doctors and the women they know who have had a mammogram. At the same time, the industrial design students were struggling with where to go and what to do, and the college was struggling with differing constituencies around concepts of combining artists and designers in exploring empathy. Communication, encouragement and support became the common goal for all to come together around. The

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The energy to participate and help the afflicted took on mission status as commitment, excitement and passion for the project grew. The industrial design students were more focused than ever, but they still had this nagging sense of not having a product to design, of not creating an object that saves people’s lives. Again they were told to trust in the process: to talk to the identified research subjects and ask them what they would do differently. The students were directed to have patients describe their entire journey and to listen with open minds. Branding the Project Constructing a college-wide project leads to misconceptions, misinformation, confusion and prejudice. It was not a design project, nor an art project but a project for all students, disciplines and constituencies to successfully carry out. Faculty from MIAD’s senior-level steering committee and staff who would be involved supported the theme of compassion. However, the project required a subtext that would give parameters to defining compassion and a main description for the project. The mission of the Compassion Project, as it was now called, was defined as navigating the significant issues of cancer awareness, prevention and discovery by finding new and meaningful experiences for all women. The scope was defined as an in-depth exploration of all aspects of health care, specific to exploring the end-to-end journey of breast cancer awareness, prevention, detection, diagnosis, cure and therapy. The following was added specific to the design classes: A user-centered experience design exploration with GE Healthcare and MIAD. All graphic signage and student work was also branded with the project’s logo mark. An organization structure and implementation plan was developed for all constituencies involved for two salient reasons: First, to clearly convince GE Healthcare that the college was willing and able to commit all its resources and energy to take on the project with the value being the life experience that that MIAD faculty, staff and students would obtain. Second, to clearly outline a structure and roadmap of assets, experiences, objectives and outcomes for all MIAD constituencies to understand and follow. Personal chemo unit by Alex Boese and Sean Simmons.

industrial design students became the leaders in research and understanding the basics of breast cancer treatment, prevention and therapy, and hosted discussion groups and made presentations to other classes and disciplines. The more this happened, the more informed all parties became, and as a result the students began to uncover a new story, a new person who had lost an aunt, who had had a family member diagnosed or who had lost a best friend to breast cancer. Everyone became aware how widespread this issue is and that most people do not talk about it.


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Key Touchpoints of the Structure Six classes formally worked on the Compassion Project, approximately 240 students in the fall of 2012 and about 225 in the spring of 2013. MIAD established that all firstyear students, a formative year in which the college operates as an integrated learning community, would embrace dialog, inquiry, research and making regarding the project. The classes and disciplines included various design studios, a writing seminar, humanities courses as well as classes on design thinking, information graphics, sculpture, art direction, research process methods and many others.

Able gown for mammography by Brett Pearson.

In order to manage such a wide number of students, disciplines and classrooms, dedicated space was made available for hosting work and discussion groups. This became the Learning Wall and the IDEA Lab. A common gallery installation wall space under the main stairway of the college served as the Learning Wall, which could be accessed by all classes and working groups. This became an ongoing site for posting process work and hosting critiques, discussions, writing and designthinking activities. It also served as the formal presentation and working space accessible and available to all students. All members of the learning community were invited to view, comment and participate. There was a public section of the wall where participants could record their ideas and responses, encouraging the viewing public to add comments and ideas directed to themes using the sticky note method. This then had the effect of a growing and living installation. A digital interface and blog site was installed to capture private and intimate thoughts and observations. This was designed and installed by the industrial students as the culmination of their research into the project.

The Learning Wall was a highly designed and crafted exhibition of the design thinking process and operated as an active working interface to collect more data. This became the face of the project and the research center where students new to the project could get up to speed quickly. Essentially it housed eight intense weeks of research and data, which was collected by the industrial design students, and presented in a digestible manner so students could become informed in one hour of reading and experiencing the Learning Wall. The IDEA Lab was formed out of 1,200 square feet of the Brooks Stevens Gallery where continued ideation, discussion and design thinking exercises could take place. A central working area with tables and chairs for impromptu study groups and working sessions was installed along with a modular dry erase marker board, which separated the space from the rest of the gallery. This space was made available to all classes and students for meetings and brainstorming sessions. It was crucial to provide a private space for female research subjects to discuss sensitive and intimate issues. The IDEA Lab happened to face the glass

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Above: Hanging hospital bed for Haiti. Right: Respire nebulizer by Sean Simmons.

wall of the president’s board room, which enabled the board of directors clear and easy viewing of how the design thinking process changed and transformed weekly. Additional transition and working spaces included a senior industrial studio, which for the first three weeks of the project served as the initial working design space due to time and scheduling issues with other gallery and college spaces. The project was housed in a portion of the senior industrial classroom via a modular marker wall system and supporting furniture. The industrial design seniors served as project leaders throughout the college and communicated their research, methods and projects to outside classes, visiting dignitaries, corporate visitors, the board of directors of the college and various high school student visitors. This was constantly changing and moving as two other major projects were being developed in the same space. Flexible lightweight marker way systems were invaluable to the process and were custom made and tailored to both the senior design studio and the IDEA Lab, which were on different floors of the main building. The senior design studio also served as a staging and design area for installation to the Learning Wall.


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The industrial design seniors and communication design students developed a Facebook project site to manage digital imagery and resources for industrial students, as well as an internal planning site (Moodle), a Tumblr image site (, a blog and file-sharing protocols. (A video about the project can be seen at The faculty team leaders and directors of the project met weekly to discuss progress, determine resources, message and assess the needs of the students and project. An online calendar tracked communication, dates and visits from GE Healthcare as well as all course activities. A long-term goal was to create a curriculum that drives women’s health care awareness fostered by artists and designers. Ultimately the project will have a web presence coordinated with the GE Healthcare website and will become a global traveling exhibit that documents the entire journey designed by the interior architecture and design students. This curriculum directive will also act as a template for future projects. The overarching strategic outcome is compassion or empathy, and the tactical process, in this case, was “women’s health care issues related to breast cancer.” The process put in place can be utilized for any case study or project. Reorientation: GEHC Immersion into the Problem After intense weeks of user-focused research and project immersion at MIAD, the project was refocused in a daylong brainstorming experience at the GE Healthcare facility and Menlo Lab. The entire group of GE Healthcare designers and staff along with MIAD students, educators and staff engaged in a group-think exercise concerned with improving the end-to-end journey of health care as related to breast cancer and women’s health issues. This was a multiple exercise event with team-building experiences, research experiences and brainstorming activities. We were asked to write down any thoughts or observations related to medical health issues that we knew of or that we had heard about or that we had experience with. GE Healthcare presented research about medical issues of breast cancer and an explanation of technologies utilized in the diagnosis, detection and prevention of breast cancer. Firsthand accounts of breast cancer survivors and the experiences of patients and the entire medical journey were also presented. As the group developed walls of sticky notes, we separated into teams by random order and were tasked with grouping all notes into categories, which through discussion became prediagnosis, diagnosis, treatment, living and facts. After this, each team was assigned a category and broke into further areas within the category. The entire group was asked to reorder or move notes as needed into these specific areas. We also removed any redundant information or repeated ideas.

The information garnered from this process was further codified, designed and presented at MIAD in a presentation method that would be accessed by the various MIAD classes and students. It was organized into four main panels: prediagnosis, diagnosis, treatment, and living and facts. This allowed for immersion into the process and the mindset for the project. An additional wall of sticky notes was installed allowing all classes and visitors to contribute to the project by sharing their views and ideas related to the project and toward focused questions developed by the industrial design students. This activity had a significant impact on the project as it was encouraged that the entire MIAD community participate. We collected more than 1,500 comments and thoughts. Besides involving everyone in the project, it enhanced awareness in a new way and provided students working on the project an invaluable source of data and ideas. The questions were: At what time in your life have you felt the most supported?; What is one way that you would improve your healthcare experience?; and Describe ‘home’ using your five senses. The resulting projects included a graphic poster and a web-based video of a breast cancer awareness campaign, design concepts for new medicine-administering

devices, new ways to receive chemotherapy, a customized home-delivery system for hospital gowns for mammogram patients, a hanging hospital bed for therapy in economic and natural disaster areas such as Haiti, a feminine hygiene kit and wash station that allows young girls to stay in school in rural Africa, a sculpture installation for the regional breast cancer awareness walk, a on-going quilting project, and multiple video-based blogs and online projects. The project also served to change the perceptions and attitudes of everyone involved, giving them the tools to discuss and explore sensitive personal and painful issues with intelligence and compassion. Aurelie Boudier, a senior design architect at GE Healthcare in France, noted that a project of this scope and magnitude could not be done in France because people there do not discuss these issues nor do they want to. Transforming young minds to take on wicked problems of thinking about and tackling the taboo subjects of feminine health care and breast cancer by exploring empathy in the design process gave everyone who participated a newfound enthusiasm and hope for solving the enormous task of improved health care for all. The project also communicated to the entire college the importance of design thinking and of using different methods of creative problem-solving. n

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“An innovative new way to protect your home and family with seamless LED security lighting.

Defiant LED Blade Motion Security Light designed by The Chamberlain Group/HeathCo Advanced Development for HeathCo;


“Concussions cannot hide.

Better medical and cognitive decision-making for our soldiers and athletes.

EYE-SYNC designed by tool. Inc. for Sync Think;


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“Is your garage door open? Close it from anywhere with Chamberlain MyQ Garage.” MyQ Garage designed by The Chamberlain Group/Advanced Development for Chamberlain;

“Making a statement for a quiet product.” Packedge Rack Mount Bezels designed by LDA for Pakedge;

The submitters pay for the publishing to this unjuried showcase.

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“Get instant Angelina Jolie lips without

lip surgery, lip injections or chemical-based lip plumper products!

Xtreme Lip-Shaper System designed by CandyLipz LLC;

“Your heartbeat, your identity. Nymi’s bio authentication securely unlocks your connected future.” The Nymi designed by Carbon Design Group for Bionym;

60 60

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“Are my supplements working?” Pharmanex Biophotonic S3 Scanner designed by Carbon Design Group for Nu Skin;

“Simplifying surgery with a tool that transforms from scope to blade to scraper.” The Stratos™ Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release System designed by Carbon Design Group for A.M. Surgical;

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“Interactive, assisted gardening for those with or without a green thumb.” AeroGarden Ultra designed by Ideaz for AeroGarden;

“Platinum Magna luggage goes where you do, with an ergonomic handle and magnetically tracking coasters.

TravelPro Platinum Magna designed by Ideaz for TravelPro;

“Powerful, steel-encased,

high-volume vacuum sealing for the discerning sportsman. GameSaver Titanium designed by Ideaz

for FoodSaver;


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“The result of 130 years of cash register design.” NCR RealPOS™ XR7 designed by NCR Consumer Experience|Design for NCR Corp.;

“Human banking—A configurable platform to create unique banking experiences.” NCR Interactive Banker designed by NCR Consumer Experience|Design for NCR Corp.;

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“Culture is really an agreement among people on how to work.” —Richard Bravman




here is a simple truth about tenets and other tools that may seem obvious but is not: The principles have to be true to work. The challenge is that teams are made of unique people with different views about the world. If people don’t buy in to the principles, the ethos, the rules, the mission or whatever your team decides to call them, then the discord becomes uncomfortable and friction can stand in the way of progress. So why bother to point out such an apparent fact? Too often we see well-meaning and carefully crafted mission and value statements that are met with eye rolls. Those initiatives seem to share a simple oversight: The same amount of energy and creativity should go into agreement and alignment as the principles themselves. Such statements must also be allowed to embrace input, adapt and change,

otherwise they become dogma, which creative critical minds delight in undermining. Richard Bravman, the great former CEO of Symbol Technologies, said something which has stayed with me for a long time. In discussing a cultural program being launched at the company, he explained, “Culture is really an agreement among people on how to work.” If you rearrange that idea, tenets that describe how and why we work and that are true to the people who work together have the potential to become your culture. If it’s your culture, then you have built something that is sure to last and to bring satisfaction and success to your work. What I learned from Bravman, and have noticed whenever I forget, is when you take the time to make sure how your work rings true with the people you work with, the results, the journey and the relationships all turn out a lot brighter. —Alistair Hamilton, IDSA,

“Man’s best friend’s best friend.” iFetch designed by Design Edge and Pump Studios for Hamill Partners;


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ENTRIES ACCEPTED DEC. 2, 2013 – FEB. 14, 2014

Illumina HiSeq Next–generation DNA sequencing LUNAR.COM

Innovation Winter 2013: Design Beliefs  

Gretchen Gscheidle, IDSA, Guest Editor

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