Archive for January, 2009


Objectified is a documentary film by Gary Hustwit. The movie examines the world of industrial design, and will feature leading designers in our field.

Paola Antonelli (Museum of Modern Art, New York)
Chris Bangle (BMW Group, Munich)
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec (Paris)
Andrew Blauvelt (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis)
Tim Brown (IDEO)
Anthony Dunne (London)
Dan Formosa (Smart Design)
Naoto Fukasawa (Tokyo)
Jonathan Ive (Apple, California)
Hella Jongerius (Rotterdam)
David Kelley (IDEO)
Bill Moggridge (IDEO)
Marc Newson (London/Paris)
Fiona Raby (London)
Dieter Rams (Kronberg, Germany)
Karim Rashid (New York)
Alice Rawsthorn (International Herald Tribune)
Davin Stowell (Smart Design)
Jane Fulton Suri (IDEO)
Rob Walker (New York Times Magazine)
and more participants TBA

Visit the movie site and learn more!


Find Your Zag


“Zag: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands”

by Marty Neumeier


I just finished reading the book, “Zag” by Marty Neumeier! I feel like my eyes have been opened, again. Marty gives great insights on defining a brand. Though the book wasn’t written directly to the ID-er, every aspect (and every page) can be applied to our field.

We live in a world of clutter, and it’s only getting worse. With millions of products out there, how are you going to create the next standout? In a nutshell, Marty’s book is about finding your “Zag”. He explains that the clutter comes from everyone following each other, which inturn creates a lot of “Zigging”. So, instead of putting all your effort into “Zigging” better, faster, and stronger than everyone else, why not “Zag”? It makes sense, right? This is where the challenge begins and where true product innovation comes into play. It’s not easy, but Marty’s book offers many great tips to help get the ball rolling. I highley recommend this book to the beginning and seasoned ID-er, alike.




Yes, I do plan to update this section with my own tips, but here is a great site offering video tutorials on I.D. sketching. The site is and was created by John Muhlenkamp and Spencer Nugent. Both designers are extremely talented and work for ASTRO studios in San Francisco, CA. Check it out!


Adding a Little Magic


Why do some products need instructions and some don’t? (That sounds like a dumb question, but think about it) One of my pet peeves, of purchasing a new product, is opening the box and finding instructions. Seriously, am I the only one who hates reading a book of complicated directions before using my latest high-tech purchase? On the other hand, there is sheer joy that enters my life when I open a product and no instructions are found. Then on top of that, I’m even more excited to realize the product truly doesn’t need them.

Now, I’m not sure you could eliminate the need for instructions on every product (maybe you could), but many could use an extra dose of innovation and simplifying. I believe most of those overcomplicated products are actually the industrial designers fault. Yes, there are other causes, but may I suggest a few reasons due to designers:

1. Lazy/bored designers (this is obvious, but I’m sure we’ve all fought this). If a designer is not happy with their project or job they most likely lack vision to create truly innovative products.
2. Lack of research. This can be caused by small budgets, but usually from a neglectful designer not willing to perform due diligence.
3. Lack of innovation. Once all the data from customers, finance, engineering, etc. is collected, the designer translates and styles them seamlessly into a product. This is one of his/her main responsibilities. Some lack talent, but usually this is a result of simply not spending enough time.

If we spend more time in the innovation stage we can minimize or even eliminate the need for instructions. Let’s also look for ways to integrate them into the product or use cues such as color and placement to suggest things like direction and purpose. As designers, lets commit to spend more time innovating, staying motivated, and most importantly keeping the customer first. Always ask yourself, “Is this something I could use?” If it’s too complicated for you, it’s probably too complicated for the customer.

Short story before I go – I just returned from a trip to Columbus, OH where I took my wife and three-year-old son to Cosi, a children’s science museum. The place was huge and had several exhibits displaying natural phenomenon. It was great to watch my son, as he would push a button and trigger some “magical” event like waves forming in a pool. It reminded me of a customer’s relationship to our products. How many times have you interacted with a product and delighted in its “magical” function, simultaneously thinking, “How did they do that?” On the other hand, how many times have you been disappointed and thought, “That’s it?!” When we truly eliminate the need for instructions and design naturally usable products we also create “magic.” If customers are greeted by this during their first interaction, they’ll keep coming back for more.

What do you think, could and every product be designed so well that instructions would never be needed again? Feel free to leave a comments.



Yes this is a BMW commercial that has been around the web and back, but still a great piece of inspiration by Theo Jansen. Are you pushing the boundaries of design?



BMW Gina

bmwginaIf you haven’t seen this video yet, it’s a must. The BMW Gina was a concept car from 2008 that truly looked at car design from a different perspective.

How do you turn a problem on its “side” and find a solution previously not considered?




Why do we sketch?

Here’s a great video showing what industrial designers use sketching and rendering for. Also, this is a great video reminding current design professionals the role of sketching.



3 December logo

3 December is looking for  a new logo. The catch is you can only use Sketchbook Pro. You can download a trial version for free from their site. The winner will get a free Wacom 1 Cintiq 12 tablet! Click the link for full details, time for submissions is running out.



Do you have a great product?

If so, enter it into the IDSA competition and get a little recognition! Click the image for full details and entry forms.



Definition of an I.D.-er


Are you new to Industrial Design? Here is a very very long-winded definition of roles and responsibilities of an I.D.-er (Taken from Stay tuned though, because I’ve challenged myself to apply some “Back of the Napkin” techniques to this definition. Don’t know what “Back of the Napkin” techniques are? Click this link to see related post.

Industrial design (ID) is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer.

Industrial designers develop these concepts and specifications through collection, analysis and synthesis of data guided by the special requirements of the client or manufacturer. They are trained to prepare clear and concise recommendations through drawings, models and verbal descriptions.

Industrial design services are often provided within the context of cooperative working relationships with other members of a development group. Typical groups include management, marketing, engineering and manufacturing specialists. The industrial designer expresses concepts that embody all relevant design criteria determined by the group.

The industrial designer’s unique contribution places emphasis on those aspects of the product or system that relate most directly to human characteristics, needs and interests. This contribution requires specialized understanding of visual, tactile, safety and convenience criteria, with concern for the user. Education and experience in anticipating psychological, physiological and sociological factors that influence and are perceived by the user are essential industrial design resources.

Industrial designers also maintain a practical concern for technical processes and requirements for manufacture; marketing opportunities and economic constraints; and distribution sales and servicing processes. They work to ensure that design recommendations use materials and technology effectively, and comply with all legal and regulatory requirements.

In addition to supplying concepts for products and systems, industrial designers are often retained for consultation on a variety of problems that have to do with a client’s image. Such assignments include product and organization identity systems, development of communication systems, interior space planning and exhibit design, advertising devices and packaging and other related services. Their expertise is sought in a wide variety of administrative arenas to assist in developing industrial standards, regulatory guidelines and quality control procedures to improve manufacturing operations and products.

Industrial designers, as professionals, are guided by their awareness of obligations to fulfill contractual responsibilities to clients, to protect the public safety and well-being, to respect the environment and to observe ethical business practice.


U.S. Vs. Foreign Cars/Products


A quick question to spur discussion and should also be applicable to product design in general:

Based on the concept that the U.S. consumer believes foreign cars are superior to American (I’m not saying it’s undeserved due to past products), what is the one big thing U.S. automakers should offer in product design, or function to alter this stigma?  


Home Team America!



OK let me first preface this post by saying I hate talking about politics (probably because I don’t know enough to carry a decent conversation). With that said, lately I have been wondering were the American Pride has gone. Is it just me? When I look back to my childhood it seemed different then it is now. Could it have to do with different presidents, the products we make versus the products imported, is it because the U.S. is more diversely populated? I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Does this concern you? Is there one thing we can do to get the “spirit” back? Maybe to you it hasn’t changed. Without getting to wordy leave a comment and share your one main thought.


Off The Bookshelf









Title: The Back of the Napkin

Author: Dan Roam


I just started reading this great book and I’m already to page 123 – I can’t put it down. It has awesome insights on solving any problem by using hand drawn pictures. On of my favorite concepts so far is the 6 w’s, or “clumps.”

1.     Who and what problems

2.     How much problems

3.     When problems

4.     Where problems

5.     How problems

6.     Why problems

For further explanation into these areas I guess you’ll have to read the book :)!


4 things I learned while working on my dream project!


Well, after a couple years of working on 2010 GT500 I can finally say it’s finished. It has been a dream come true working on something with so much history.  Although, I say it was dream, there were times that I almost walked out. Looking back I can say there were four things that I’ll keep in mind for any future projects.

1.You can turn anything into a “dream project”. Not all projects are “dreams” to work on; even aspects of the GT500 were not ideal. If I found myself discouraged, I would look for ways to tie it into a bigger “dream” project. Sometimes it was far fetched, but in the end it created a little carrot at the end of the stick.

2.Someone on your team will have a different dream project. It doesn’t matter how awesome your project is, most likely someone you work with will not consider it their dream project.

3.Share your dream with others. Helping people see what you see in a project can boost their opinion of it. They will get as excited as you are.

4.Keep the dream alive. When the project rocks you can easily convince yourself to work until your knuckles bleed. You will get to the point were it’s no longer fun. It might be a great project, but unplug from the computer, punch the clock and go home. I always felt better after a little recharge. Go for a run, kiss the kid, or call a friend. When you return to work it will still be a dream.


 Ford press release:



I.D. Spotlight: Joseph (Jo) Claude Sinel

sinel1Photo and excerpt taken from an article on IDSA’s website;

He was self-described as the first “industrial designer” in the US, because he stamped the title on his letterhead in 1920. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, one of a family of ten, he attended the Elam School of Art there and apprenticed as an artist at the New Zealand Herald newspaper from 1904 to 1909.

…he was asked to also design products for clients in 1923, many of them in art deco style. Among them were scales for Peerless and the International Ticket Scale Corporation, the Acousticon and Sonotone hearing aids, Remington typewriters and calculators for Marchand. His package designs were featured in a 1934 Fortune magazine and he won a number of design awards.

He worked for fifty-five advertising agencies during his career, and for eleven years, was married to concert pianist Genevieve Blue. He returned to the California College of Arts and Crafts in the 1940s where later in life he was made an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. He also taught at a number of other design schools including Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Chouinard in LA.

Click here for full article on Joseph Claude Sinel


Stay Tuned

Sketch 1

Check back soon for tips and techniques in traditional and digital mediums.