Archive for the ‘Business Strategies for Good Design’ Category

Rugged Tablet Awarded for Technological Innovation

Friday, April 8th, 2011

The Tablet Xpad is a system using the Android OS that provides digital control of the new Air Cooled Almex Quantum Press redesigned by IDWS as a whole system of new product development from the Xpad to the Quantum, as well as a number of other programs to be released shortly.

Seen at the latest SMOPYC show in Zaragoza Spain:


Rugged Tablet


Styled Air Press

The Xpad Tablet and Quantum Press work together to Vulcanize Conveyor Belts.

The Almex Tablet Xpad was awarded special mention, as it brings  “modular functionality that enables a wide range of possible uses within the building activity, including the integrated management of the application by means of communications and information technologies and GPS connections, Internet, etc. Such technologies are being incorporated in the building sector and will, without doubt, have a great impact on this sector in the future, allowing increased efficiency… in the Category of “Services applicable to the Building Activity”. Special mention by the Jury for the ALMEXPAD system for the control of conveyor belt vulcanization presses, presented by I.C. CONVEYOR, S.L.”

SMOPYC:  International show of public works, construction and mining machinery.


Out Innovate!

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

When the call came out on May 25, 1961 to send a man to the moon from US Pres. John F. Kennedy, there was no knowledge of what would eventually lead companies into an era of innovation and education.  This is the story we know from the Space program, as it pushed the development of new ideas and products to get to the moon.  And many of these ideas percolated down into other main stream products, creating their own success stories.

So how can we out innovate, out educate and out build the rest of the world, as US Pres. Barack Obama outlined in his State of the Union address on Jan. 25, 2011?  As many have looked at this statement as a vague outline, with over used phrases, I think we are missing something.  What the President is doing, is once again a call for action, a deep review of our industries and to find a vision that will better our companies, and tell a better story – like going to the moon!

If we lack that vision and keep going ahead with what we’ve always done, someone someplace is going to challenge us for our market share.  In Hollywood, building market share in the movie business is to create great movies, but note all great movies have this one major theme: 

“About a character, who wants something, and overcomes conflict to get it.”

This theme is a basic desire that is built into our DNA of our human experience, and probably that one thing that got your company started. 

So what is the next chapter of the story you are writing at your company?

Honda for example looks at their company through this lens: 

“Most people think of Honda as an automobile company.

But our main focus is and always has been human mobility.

And innovation is our engine.”

Honda is writing a story about finding and figuring out how to make mobility better, and more environmentally friendly – less about carbon fuels and more about bio fuels. And the research that they have poured into is about new education that leads to innovation and outbuilding the rest of the world.

The story they embarked on was to duplicate the human motions of walking  ( ) and they ended up with a robot called ASIMO, derived from Isaac Asimov best known author of science fiction books and in movies such as “ I, Robot ” staring Will Smith.

But not only did they create a walking robot, the Honda story continues with spin off products like the UX-3 Personal Mobility (seen below), Stride Management Assist and the Bodyweight Support Assist.


Honda-UX-3 Closed


Honda-UX-3 OPEN


Even further developing new Products with this Eco Mobility technology are the Honda EV Car, the EV CUB, EV Neo Scooter, and the EV Monopal ( ) .


Honda EV-CAR w/ UX-3 in Door




The story that Honda is writing is this; a company that wants something, and is overcoming conflict to get it done.  And you see this when you watch the innovation and the over 180 patents being worked out in the UX-3. 

The Story is not just about a small portable wheeled device to make us lazy at walking, it is about the creative process to create better ideas that lead to innovative products.

The UX-3 is an idea delivered at a cost I’m sure, but the hurdles that Honda faced to get there might one day just make its way into the next future mobility device. One that changes the face of vehicles we know today, creating a competitive advantage that the rest of the world will one day have to catch up to.



Being optimistic about driving a company into the next decade takes a lot of determination, finding your company story will help you create that goal.  Discovering the right team of visionaries and designers to help you overcome the conflicts will help bring out that excellence and competitive advantage, creating a better story for your company’s future.

David Duncan

Watch the Honda UX-3 on Youtube:

How 3D vision can help Product Design

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Walk into any television and stereo entertainment store this fall and you will be witnessing some of the latest 3-D television sets.  Displaying 3D Blu-ray movies and soon to come 3D television shows, 3D documentaries, and even live 3D sports broadcasts.  Imagine NFL football games on Sunday afternoons, let alone how this will improve seeing the undulating fairways and greens while watching Golf and the PGA at Augusta National for the Masters this spring!

Stereo imaging has been around for many years, but this latest advancement in Home Theatres has given us cost effective stereoscopic 3D flat screens and glasses allowing the viewer to travel through space, showing heights, depths and textures like we have never seen before - all right in our own living rooms!  So, when will we adopt this this technology into our everyday Office Space?

Virtual Reality in CAD ( Computer Aided Design) has been around for a decade or more, used often in architecture to show fly through landscapes and streetscapes for construction projects, as well as  with a handful of high-end vehicle designs on Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin cars.  But this technology is now on the verge of being offered in Tablets and Laptops in a cost effective way getting this into the hands of every designer and engineer at their own desk!   And so what we as a group of professionals really haven’t done before is engage this technology at very basic level of product design involving our engineering and industrial design in the day to day developments of a project. 

Currently the best way to “see” a product for form and fit is to use Rapid Prototyping repeatedly, until we are comfortable with the end result.  This is used currently because so much information and comfort level is lost on the CAD system when only being able to see the parts on a 2D monitor.  

However a handful of companies have developed software and hardware for design professionals to start utilizing this advanced technology allowing for 3-D visual experience.  Nvidia has been developing packages that give new tools to designers to create that next generation of products, 3D Vision gives “graphics solutions for real time collaborating design reviews complex data exploration, immersive realistic 3-D environments and faster time to insight”


In the past 3-D vision technology has been out of reach for most of our desks and was at best used mostly as a board level type design tool.  Imagine now, that the design work environment can be done with 3D visual support on a single desktop monitor, no longer restricted to large projected images or using a CAVE, the rooms specifically designed for virtual reality simulations.

Operating with this kind of 3D vision is really very simple, all you need is a compatible 3D GPU ( graphics processor unit) a 3D vision ready flat screen display or projector and a set of the 3D glasses for viewing.  With many 3D CAD software packages getting into the support of such technologies, companies like Rhino3D, Autodesk, Catia & Siemens are among the handful of CAD developers catering to this new technology.

So the big question is this, How will this new 3D vision change or improve the product development process and lower the costs to create and prototype new ideas and product ventures?   Soon we will know, but it’s probably just a matter of time before the 3D stereoscopic display monitors start to take over, and the replacement of the 2D flat screen monitors in the Engineering and Industrial Design Offices become the norm, offering this new technology to the research and development process.

iPad vs. HP tm2 Tablet

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

So I’ve been debating the purchase of some new technology for the industrial design work that we engage in each day at our office: 1. an iPad or 2. a tablet laptop?

Here at IDWS we create ideas for new products with sketches, mock up prototypes, freeform 3D CAD modeling with Rhino3D and realistic renderings with HyperShot HD (now upgradeable to KeyShot). Therefore I wondered if the iPad would be a useful option or would a tablet laptop work for us to communicate our ideas to our clients.

So I choose to look into the Hewlett Packard HP TouchSmart tm2 Notebook PC and Apple iPad to compare both.

Now all of this started because I have an app on my Apple iPhone called SketchBook Mobile from Autodesk, and this little tool fits nicely into some of our work in getting ideas out on the fly. So that was the guide to looking into the new Apple iPad, because the larger screen size would be beneficial to drawing more objects using the SketchBook app for some of our product designs.

The touch screen Hewlett Packard HP TouchSmart tm2 Notebook PC.

HP tm2 Tablet

HP tm2 Tablet

But when a friend of mine was showing off his new tablet computer, it suddenly clicked that the SketchBook software could also work on the 12 in. laptop tablet screen too. So now the conundrum: which hardware should we get in order to sketch on the screen, and create ideas just as freely as we do with markers, pencils and paper?

Furthermore, just as I’m looking into all this, I see this full page ad campaign in the Globe & Mail about how Adobe wants to reach across the aisle to Apple (if you have not seen it yet Google: “Adobe loves Apple”). This full page ad is in defense of Adobe’s software, to which Apple is not willing to adjust its hardware, i.e. adding more horsepower to run things like Flash web content.

If I went with an iPad, I would prefer if it offered some new options instead of being an oversized iTouch device – that still does not play Flash, load 3rd party software or have peripheral device slots like USB.

On the other hand if we purchase a TouchSmart tm2 it could do multiple tasks; as it is both a computer and a tablet. Moreover using the HP tablet means I wouldn’t have to wonder if there was ever going to be a 3D app available, as it is helpful to be able to review some of the CAD files we’re building with clients.

As a result, I think Adobe has the right point of view here, and that is if you’re going to spend money on a computer-type device you should be able to use it the way you need to use it, and not be forced into the limitations of what the hardware of the device is capable of delivering.

Taking this line of thought and putting it into action, I finally walked into Future Shop to look at the TouchSmart tm2 tablet, and was surprised with the ease-of-use because not only was it a computer but also a touch screen device! So why hadn’t I jumped on the tablet bandwagon when they first came out? Well I can’t answer that, but I’m now realizing the potential of the touch screen computer, and these tablets I’m sure will soon replace the traditional laptops I’m used to.

Just like on the iPhone or iPad, the HP tm2 can do things like writing notes “writing” not typing – as it comes with a stylus pen (or one can use their finger, however the stylus has much finer ease of use). Subsequently using any of these new features, brings a unique way to how we can or will do daily computing.

I can truly “write” an email (in my own hand writing) and then this little HP has the software to convert it into text if I want – or I can send it out with my personal touch.

The Apple iPad  strength is content consumption, not creation.

iPad tablet

iPad tablet

A further advantage the tm2 also has voice recognition to operate the computer… just like the iPhone; this computer will actually listen to me! It can open files on command, as I speak it types, and can send emails all with the onboard microphone. To add to all of this, the tm2 comes with a fingerprint scanner for added login security, a web cam, stereo speakers, USB slots and a HDMI out and a few more benefits.

Keeping in mind my needs are slightly different than the original intent of the iPad I’m sure. Add to that the tm2 lacks the many thousand apple apps I use on my iPhone; however I’m sure that just around the corner Microsoft will adopt desktop apps to compete effectively.

Nevertheless in my comparison, I was blown away by this little tablet computer. So I bought one, and when I got it unpacked I purchased Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and started to utilize the freeform drawing capabilities that were offered just as we would use in the iPhone app.

Despite the fact that you will have to pay a little bit more money than one would pay for an iPad, it definitely gets you many more wow factor tools for computing, whether in the creative side, or the technical side of business.

Just as Adobe says, we all might love Apple products, but we also like choice and openness in all platforms regardless of the hardware or software limitations at hand to get our work done.

This is the third contribution of my monthly blog for Design Product News.

Design Product News Magazine Online Blog

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

designproductnewsI am excited to announce my occasional blog about Industrial Design in Design Product News Magazine also known as DPN Canada.

This month I have written on the importance of ” Styling a product for Marketability “ and the role Industrial Design has in helping merge the ideas of Engineering Functions with the Marketing Team’s dreams… to create a visual & tangible result to work from. Where we work from Sketches to Clay Models, then move into Rhinoceros 3D to sculpt the finished look for Rapid Prototyping & manufacturing.

See the full article online at:  Design Product News

Niagara Industrial Association

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Doing business in the Greater Niagara Area has many benefits.  There are a handful of businesses for developing, engineering, manufacturing and marketing a product, companies like General Motors and John Deere have known this for years.  And now new companies and industries in electronics, LED lighting, Consumer Products and emerging technologies in renewable energy from companies like Samsung for Wind Turbines and Mining Companies look to Niagara.  Which if you can do business in the area, it offers some great attractions from Entertainment at Casino Niagara , world class Golf courses like John Daly’s Thundering Waters, and our world famous Ice Wines from our tender fruit farms around the Niagara-on-the-Lake area have impressed guys like Wayne Gretzky to do business here - No.99 Estates Winery.  And finally the awe of power is a sight to see at Niagara Falls, which is always just a short drive from any place in the Niagara Peninsula. We have access to international airports, with Toronto Ontario to the North and Buffalo New York to the South.

Visit the Niagara Industrial Association for more info on the area.

Biomaterials: great applications!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009


Designers are starting to access the latest in Biomaterials in their efforts to minimize the impact of products on the environment.

Evolve Line of Products from Smith, uses biodegradable and bio-based products in production.  96% of each Goggle frame is created from recycled polyurethane, and the Evolve Helmets are using eco-friendlier materials such as Cocona.

Ask us how we can design your next product with a Biomaterial, and make more than a marketing impact in the world!

Private Equity Firms

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Industrial Design and Private Equity Firms ( Angel Investors ) can work together to bring value into a new product.

New innovators looking for product financing to move their projects forward need to consider the impact that both cash and design investment can have when trying to jump into the market with a new product.

While Private Equity Firms work to bring investors on board, Industrial Design works to bring customers on board. When the design of a product speaks to the functional side and the human desire of want, the end result is the wow factor.

Industrial Design can bring out the intangible – Style! The effect on the product is that style can bring in the much needed ROI – Return on Investment if well thought out.

Just think about the buzz right now over the iPhone, the design costs are out weighted by the Return on Investment.

When making the move to redesign or re-invest into a product think of both the engineering of its function, but also the styling of its appearance and use to the end user.

This is what we help our clients do everyday. Talk to us about your ideas today!

Design Methodology

Monday, July 6th, 2009

K2 Himalayas

K2 Himalayas

Even though these two books are not directly related to design styling… They do drive us to change the way we think.  And this like anything else helps us to re-invent our world for the better.  

Three Cups of Tea is about K2 the worlds tallest mountain, and one mans quest in the shadow of this Himalayan Peak.

#1 New York Times Bestseller

PENGUIN Paperback 2007 ISBN 978-0-14-303825-2

Peak Oil

Peak Oil

The Second book, is about Peak Oil and indirectly how this will eventually play against North American Manufacturing..

ISBN: 9781400068500
Publisher: Random House Inc

CONSULTANT DESIGN: a retrospective view

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Industrial Design has evolved from its historic meaning of product aesthetics to a deeper, more complex concern for man and his environment.


by Arthur J. Pulos

Sometime before 1920, Joseph Sinel put the words “Industrial Design” on his letterhead and thereby announced that he was ready to do product design for American industry. In 1927, Norman Bel Geddes established the profession of Industrial Design, that is to say, he claimed to be the “first designer of national reputation to surround himself with a staff of specialists and offer Industrial Design services.” Raymond Loewy believes that “the beginning of Industrial Design as a legitimate profession” was his contract with the Hupp Motor Company because “for the first time a large corporation accepted the idea of outside advice on the development of its products.”

In point of fact, none of these gentlemen invented Industrial Design nor was it created by Walter Dorwin Teague who turned from a successful career in advertising illustration to product design in 1926. One of his first clients was the Eastman Kodak Company and this alliance, which lasted from 1927 until his death in 1960, was highlighted by the phenomenal success of the Baby Brownie camera produced in Plastic in 1934 to sell for $1. Henry Dreyfuss was only 25 years old when he founded his practice of Industrial Design in 1928 following a career in the design of costumes and scenery for the theater. One of his earliest successes resulted from an assignment from Sears Roebuck to design a washing machine.

These gentlemen did not invent Industrial Design; nor was it created by Lurelle Guild, Egmont Arens, John Vassos, Ray Patten, Harold Van Doren, Russell Wright, Donald Deskey or Peter Muller-Munk, all of whom began to practice Industrial Design in the 1920’s. Rather. Industrial Design came into being in the United States as a result of the unique demand a twentieth century Machine Age for individuals qualified by intellect and and sensitivity to give form to the humanistic elements of mass-produced objects. It sought to fill the vacuum left by the inability of the craftsmen to anticipate every demand which would be imposed on a mass-produced product by an expanded technology and a preoccupation with consumer appeal and satisfaction. These Industrial Designers and many others like them were the result of this phenomenon not its originators.

The first signs of Industrial Design made an appearance at the onset of the Industrial Revolution as a necessary concomitant to the standardization of parts and the subdivision of labor. However, it was not until the twentieth century that mass production was perfected to the point where the input of the conceiver of the product could be finally separated from the output of its producers. In an oblique way, its greatest impetus came front World War I, the first war to be fought essentially by machines. The success of mass produced ammunition, rifles, machine Guns, tanks, airplanes, dirigibles and aerial bombs was only partially softened by mass-produced medical supplies, ambulances and tailor-made cigarettes. At first, the awesome capacity of an industrial economy geared for quantity production generated fears that man might himself be dominated by the machine. However, the national fever which swept the country after the war soon diverted this industrial capacity to the manufacture of products to serve the common man. His purchasing power crept steadily upwards. Electricity, a means of ready energy, had become available to everyone. With a capacity sufficient to drive a train or trolley or to grind meat or wash clothes, it promised to conquer domestic and industrial drudgery and almost did. The broom, the washboard, and the coffee mill all fell before an onslaught of electrified products. The acceptance of the machine as an instrument of production necessary to the needs of democracy made the common object beautiful and desirable. Products for everyday use acquired a new dignity and promised economic profit at the same time. Media promotion magazines national magazines and radio advertising stimulated mass sales and provided a steady demand for the talents of designer’s and offered them a sense of participation in a dynamic economy.

The cultural break which occurred when the First World War interrupted the flow of art products and talent from Europe to America had aroused some of our cultural leaders to the urgency for developing our own designers. In 1917, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York organized a series of annual ex­hibitions of American industrial art motivated by a desire to demonstrate the value of its collections to designers and manufacturers. At first, it exhibited only such products as had been inspired by its col­lections. However, slowly it began to recognize the work of independent American designers to the point of adding advertising art to its exhibit including work by Walter Dorwin Teague.

Neither the Metropolitan Museum nor the Ameri­can design community were prepared, however, for the shock of the refusal by the then Secretary of State Herbert Hoover of an invitation to the United States to participate in the Paris International Exposition of Design and Decorative Arts in 1925. His reluc­tance was based on the sincere and not improbable conviction that the United States could not comply with the Exposition’s rule that “all exhibits must be modern and of original design.” The United States was one of the only three civilized nations which did not participate; the others being Germany which was not invited, and China which was in political chaos at the time.

The Paris Exposition offered very little in the way of mass-produced products. It did, however, champion successfully a new spirit in design, namely that the products of the twentieth century owed nothing to historic style and, further, that their chief inspiration should come from geometric form and the machine. The effect on the American design community was immediate and powerful. Paris became the center of the design world. A number of American designers (among who were Donald Deskey and Russell Wright) went to Paris to see the Exposition and
came back to begin the practice of Industrial Design. Within a year, Walter Dorwin Teague and Raymond Loewy abandoned illustration for Industrial Design.

The Secretary of Commerce of the United States reacting to the cultural impact of the show appointed a commission of over 100 manufacturers to visit and report on the Paris exposition. Their report is important because in it industry publicly recognized that it had an obligation to our economy to support American designers and a contemporary idiom. In spite of the fact that the report and its lesson have forgotten by our decorative arts and furnishings, it might be interesting to repeat it here as a plaintive echo. The commissions recognized: “First, that the modern movement in applied art is designed to Playa large part in the near future in many important fields, of productions throughout the western world;

“Second, that the nation which most successfully nationalizes the movement and brings its expressions into terms acceptable and appropriate to modern liv­ing conditions and modern taste will possess a dis­tinct advantage both to domestic and foreign trade; “Third, that the movement will undoubtedly reach our own shores in the near future and unless we are to be entirely dependent at this junction upon foreign talent, manufacturers, designers and school activi­ties should take careful note of its course abroad and endeavor to initiate a parallel effort of our own upon lines calculated to appeal to the American consumer.”

Immediately after the Paris Exposition, the Ameri­can Association of Museums imported and circulated a collection of objects from the Exposition on the premise that it was not intended to stimulate a de­mand for the European products themselves, nor to encourage the copying of European creations, but rather to stimulate the development of a parallel movement in the United States. Its sponsors hoped that we would be encouraged to build on our own traditions and seek expression of the artistic current of the day and to bring out new forms appropriate to the living conditions of the twentieth century. The success of these shows was due in part to the fact that the products were not exhibited as isolated objects d’art—contemporary curios against an his­toric background—but rather as elements in an en­vironment which was done entirely in the new spirit

New York department stores were quick to recog­nize the market value of public interest in the new Art Moderne style and, in very short order, each of the major department stores held its own exhibition of products in new style. Franklin Simon hired Norman Bel Geddes to develop a new approach to its window displays utilizing dramatic lighting. When the win­dows were unveiled the crush of viewers was so great that extra police had to be assigned to keep traffic moving. Within three months, every Fifth Avenue store had changed its displays into the new style.

An exchange of letters between James Rennie and Norman Bel Geddes (printed in The Neu, York Times in 1928) demonstrates the influence which this new style and its promise of a new world had on designers and artists. Rennie’s letter called attention to the “fact that Norman Bel Geddes has left the theater flat and is now designing window displays, automo­biles, scales and various other odds and ends which have no relation to dramatic art. Mr. Bel Geddes’ explanation of this is that industrial objects offer broader opportunities than the theater in its present general condition.” It closed with the expressed hope that Bel Geddes might be spanked editorially.

Bel Geddes responded: “We live in an age of industry and business. It is a fact. There is nothing wrong with it.  Any wrong is in the point of view of those who are unsuccessful in dealing with it.  It is as absurd to condemn an artist of today for applying his ability to insustry as it is to condemn Phidias, Giotto or Michaelangelo for applying theirs toward religion.

“It is more important that I should be working at something that interests one, that is of the present, such as the automobile, the airplane, the steamship, the railway car, architecture and furniture, than it is for me to keep working in the theater merely because I have spent 15 years doing so.”

Norman Bel Geddes, perhaps, caught the excitement and challenge of working for industry better than any other designer of the twenties and thirties. As a result, his studios served as a magnet for many other designers, including Henry Dreyfuss and Russell Wright in the early 1920’s. Later it drew Garth Huxtable, William Paxton, Peter Schladermundt, Rudolph Koepf and, after World War II, Eliot Noyes.

These former associates agree in principle that Bel Geddes was “as close to a genius as this profession had produced.”  His predictive capacity was uncanny. In an article for the Ladies Home Journal in 1931, he predicted curtain wall construction, vertical takeoff airplanes, photoelectric cells to open doors, air-conditioning, airplanes encircling the globe, a new fuel of vastly improved power and infinitesimal bulk, exploration of the sea bottom and interplanetary space. His book, Horizons, is a classic.

It would be illogical to ignore the fact that most Industrial Designers of the 1930’s were caught up by this same spirit of progress and adventure. Dramatic sales successes were scored again and again by redesigned products. The Great Depression itself gave impetus to the efforts of designers when it was discovered that sales volume could be maintained by making a product an item of fashion subject to evanescent taste. The designers promoted annual model changes in products encouraging public aspiration for a higher standard of living. In quick order, Art Moderne gave way to the Skyscraper Style, this, in turn, was replaced by streamlining. So, it has been ever since, one cosmetic influence replacing another. It is unfortunate that, for some designers, responsibility ends at this level and that they have just become a promotional arm of the sales force of industry.

Other designers introduced into their products a concern for the consumer’s well-being which went much deeper than arbitrary Styling. They have proved that through design analysis products can be evolved which are less expensive to produce, require fewer parts in manufacture, incorporate new materials and processes with attendant savings in cost and service, and produce objects which are more functional than their earlier counterparts.

The range of practice of Industrial Design today is so broad as to make unrealistic the use of the phrase “Industrial Design” in its historic sense of product aesthetics. Yet, the glamour of the name remains with its promise of dramatic changes in product expression accompanied by equally dramatic increases in sales. In point of fact, the practice of Industrial Design has drifted so far from its origins in hardware and mass production that it is reasonable to speculate that the qualifying adjective “industrial” will disappear from the title leaving the professional in this field of service to be known simply as a designer. This would provide an umbrella title covering the activity of so-called Industrial Designers.

This designer then, as we might term him, serves our economy at the interface between man and his environment. He is free to work for public agencies and government as well as for private enterprise and industry. In fact, he may often serve as a necessary bridge between these protagonists of our democratic society. His educational breadth provides him with an understanding of physical science and technological process, a sympathy for social science and the humanities coupled with creativity and aesthetic sensitivity.

At the present time, independent design offices undertake assignments varying over the entire man made environment. These may range from space planning to product planning, from sales and promotional programs to institutional studies, from research to application, from exhibits and trade fairs to graphics, packaging and hard goods.

Donald McFarland, head of the West Coast office of Latham, Tyler and Jensen, predicted last fall at the annual meeting of the IDSA that, in another 10 years, the independent Industrial Design offices would give way to corporate design staffs. While one cannot disagree with the notion that corporate design is becoming a stronger influence in company planning and operation, it is also evident that a need will persist for independent designers.

Corporate design groups will continue to rely, at least for design insurance reasons, on the broader experience and less directed judgment of outside consultants. It is very difficult for an inside group, committed as it normally is to the problems of meeting a continual and pressing demand for products to sell, to set aside either time or intellectual capacity for longer or broader range product development.

          The word “consultant,” in a strict sense, refers to the singular and highly personal activity of an individual retained for his direct counseling. In every case, he is a person of high intelligence, perceptive to developing trends, with thorough and commanding respect and experience in his chosen field. His value to a client is, at least in part, due to the fact that he is free of the narrower frame of reference and internecine rivalries within a company. His special status places him close to top management where he may freely offer counsel even if it is at variance with established opinion. Free to cross disciplines, he may introduce broader environmental influences.

It is no accident that many of the pioneers of this profession have developed a pure consultant relationship with a client and have become valued and trusted confidants of its top management. In this capacity, the consultant operates with a very small staff (if any at all) and very much out of his hat rather than his portfolio. He tends to meet with management, often as a part of a larger consulting group, on an annual, semiannual or quarterly basis. His primary function is to help shape long term product policy.

More often the consultant operates on a short term basis meeting with in-plant personnel working on current products. These people may be designers—if the company carries its own—or else engineering and marketing, personnel. He serves primarily to help tune a product or product line to market conditions. Such meetings are usually held monthly or weekly or even more often in the press of deadlines. At this level, the consultant may help his client develop a design staff and determine Industrial Design practices for him.

The most frequent type of outside design service is concerned with the use of independent designers to supplement in-company design staffs. They provide a satellite design service rather than serving as consultants since they seldom have anything to do with product policy or direction. Rather, their primary value is to supply additional design help to the company as it is needed. Such an arrangement helps keep the company staff lean and thus avoids the problem of long range commitments and responsibilities. Further, the independent designer working on such a basis has an opportunity to flesh out his own regular work and may aspire to achieve a relationship with his client company on a higher plane.

Most if not all Industrial Designers are motivated by a persistent effort to bring aesthetic virtue and scientific value into harmony in mass-produced objects. They believe that it is logical to expect that efficiency and elegance may be tuned to serve man’s common needs. It is disturbing on one hand to recognize that the profession has not seen fit to establish even minimal standards for practice and that many members of this forty-year old profession consider any efforts in this direction as a threat to this freedom to shift practice at will. At the same time, this is evidence of the dynamic virility which characterizes the practice of design. The essence of Industrial Design is distilled from its ability to extract from an industrial economy those new products which are expressive of human need.

“The Changing Face of America

Industrial Design Magazine

I.D. Magazine

June 1966