Sound United Cuts the Proverbial Cord: Michael DiTullo on the Debut of Polk Omni and Definitive Technology Wireless Music Systems
Definitive Technology; from L to R: W Adapt, W9, W7, W Studio, W Amp
A veritable three-headed giant in consumer electronics, Sound United's aptly differentiated trio of brands is well-established across the category, offering products for users of all stripes, from hip millennials to discerning audiophiles. Today sees the launch of its first two wireless music systems, major releases for both the Polk Audio and Definitive Technology brands. Building on its long history as a leader in bringing top-notch audio engineering to music fans, the Polk Omni family comprises a suite of speaker options, plus a standalone amplifier and a wireless adaptor for your existing home audio system. Definitive Technology's W collection is billed as the "first audiophile-grade wireless music system," with higher-end versions of a congruent product range—two sizes of speaker, a soundbar/subwoofer combo, an amplifier and an adaptor.
DTS' Play-Fi allows for streaming via services such as Pandora and Spotify, as well as Internet radio and, of course, the user's personal music collection. Each of the systems is controlled by a dedicated app, compatible with Android and iOS and specifically designed to complement the respective hardware.
Polk Omni, from L to R: S2, S2 Rechargeable, SB1, A1, P1
We had the chance to talk to Michael DiTullo—a longtime friend and contributor to Core who also happens to be the Chief Design Officer of Sound United—about the thinking and process behind the two new collections.
Core77: Home audio, as a category, has a certain aesthetic; to what degree do you abide by these standards, and to what degree to do you try to break away?
Michael DiTullo: We try not to think of what is going on in the CE category and instead focus on what is important to our target persona and what other objects they surround themselves in. An audio product lives with a family, in their living room, in their kitchen, in their bedroom. It has to respond to these spaces to earn the right to be there. Our Polk collection uses warm metallic finishes, warm metallic off blacks, a mix of dark and light grilles and softer, mid-century modern inspired form language to respond to what is going on the space of the Polk listener and visually represent the sonic profile which is very warm.
The Definitive persona, who we call the aficionado, is more Modernist, clean, crisp, very precise. The design language reflects that with machined aluminum bases, machined cantilevered aluminum UI's, and very strong, minimal forms. Likewise, the sonic signature is very cold, precise, and forward, just like the design.
It sounds like you imagine these products in context, i.e. in and among the kinds of interiors, furniture and lifestyles of the end users.
Very much so. Before embarking on designing this collection, we conducted a series of ethnographic interviews with a range of listeners, including recent college grads moving into their first apartment, couples moving into their first home, young families with multiple children, and empty nesters who were downsizing. We studied the use cases of these individual groups, the unique pain points with trying to get an audio experience around their rooms, and were able to extrapolate the insights that went into the innovation and form factor of each product. By learning about what wasn't working for people, we could develop a collection and system that does work and is flexible enough to grow with them and continue to surprise and delight. We always start every project by answering two very simple questions: Who are we designing for, and what can our brand and expertise bring to them that makes their audio life better?
Polk Omni SB1 (wireless subwoofer & soundbar)
Definitive Technology W Amp
Polk Omni P1 adaptor (at center), pictured with RTiA1 speakers(more...)
Indiana Jones & the Temple of Meow: Portland Couple's Cat-Furniture-Building Hobby Turns Into Full-Time Gig
Among pet lovers it's a common, if somewhat weird, practice for them to give their animal a Facebook page or Twitter account, as if Spot and Felix had the wherewithal to operate a computer. But Portland, Oregon-based Mike and Megan Wilson, the husband-and-wife team behind CatastrophiCreations, are taking it one step further and claiming their cats can design and build.One morning we woke up and stumbled into the living room. To our suprise, our new baby kitten had gotten into my tool box and taken apart our couch and rebuilt it into a cat bridge. After that we thought, "Bingo", we'll lock him in a room and start selling all of his creations on Etsy. After a couple weeks we started feeling bad for the load we were putting on our new cat, so we got another cat to give him a hand and double the amount of orders we can produce. Toys for cats, by cats.
Gag aside, their Indiana Jones Cat Bridge ($150 to $180) has proven to be a hit, and the couple began designing and building more cat-based furniture. Hammocks, ramps, shelves, climbing holes, feeders, and even a Super-Mario-Bros.-inspired "complex":(more...)
The phrase "First World problems" was trenchant the first time I heard it. Now five years later, with everyone braying it and hashtagging it as the laziest of punchlines, it irritates me. But I guess it won't go away, and that's partially because of objects like the Hapifork and the people who patronize it.
That ridiculous piece of silverware is supposed to help you "eat healthier, eat slower and lose weight by eating at the right time and at the right speed." The freaking thing senses when it's in your mouth, then silently counts off the seconds until it's in your mouth again; eat too fast, and it vibrates to remind you to slow down. It was successfully Kickstarted last year and is now in production. (You can read a New York Magazine article here from a writer test-driving one.)
Meanwhile, Glasgow-based ID firm 4c Design is working on an actually useful eating utensil. Working closely with a gent named Grant Douglas, who has "a combination of ataxic and athetoid cerebral palsy [that] has affected my hand control, speech and walking pattern since birth," 4c designed the S'up Spoon, whose particularly ergonomic handle and deeper bowl are meant to ease mealtimes for those with hand tremors.
"Eating in a restaurant would just be unthinkable before," Douglas told Design Week UK. "[The S'up Spoon] is a major breakthrough. I can eat Chinese with two portions of rice as well as ice-cream totally independently and with very little spillage."(more...)
Furniture made from corrugated cardboard has many advantages. It's easy to move; it's not too expensive; it's recyclable. We've written about the products from Our Paper Life, but a number of other companies have entered this market, too.
Those who live in Australia can get the products from Karton; the company doesn't ship outside of the country, though. Karton has a wide range of offerings, including some with storage options—such as this bed, with the under-bed drawers.
Karton has both bookshelves and chests of drawers. Can cardboard shelves really work for books? The company says, "You will be blown away by the incredible strength of KARTON. Super high-grade corrugated paper board means that KARTON products are often stronger than you need them to be." They're made from a combination of virgin and recycled paper; the virgin paper adds strength.
Karton products require no tools for assembly; they rely on "a clever system of folds and tabs." The company provides both printed and video assembly instructions.
And of course, the products can be painted; you can also use water-based polyurethane to add some protection and some waterproofing. (But varnishing the products would probably mean they're no longer recyclable.)(more...)
With a press release this morning, Dyson tidily answered some questions that have been in the back of our minds. Questions like:1. What are they going to use those tiny, powerful digital motors they developed for?
2. What weren't they showing us in that Dyson Proving Grounds video from last year?
3. What does a company that spends £3 million on research every week put that money towards?
4. Why on earth does a company with just three product categories employ 2,000 engineers?
5. Why hasn't Dyson, with its expertise in vacuums, yet moved into the robot vacuum space?
With this morning's announcement of the Dyson 360 Eye, all of the answers have fallen into place. Their forthcoming robot vacuum has been in development for a staggering 16 years, and a close look at the thing explains what all of those R&D eggheads have been working on.
First off, the "most powerful suction of any robot vacuum" claim is what you'd expect with Dyson, particularly if you've used any of their products. (Look for our upcoming "Living With..." product review on the Dyson DC59.) As you'll see in the demo video below, the 360 Eye with that digital motor was designed to suck up way more dust than the competing robot vacs, including from the crevices between floorboards, in a single pass. This comes as no surprise.
What is surprising is the wayfinding technology they've come up with. Existing robot vacuums have sensors and algorithms that they use to bounce around rooms seemingly randomly, relying on multiple passes and path redundancy to get a room clean. Dismissing this method as primitive and inadequate, Dyson opted to go with vision.
They developed a 360-degree camera that shoots 30 frames per second and actually sees the room, and selects high-contrast points—the edge of a picture frame, the corner of a bookshelf, for instance—to triangulate its location in space.(more...)
Drop the Beat, a wearable electronic drumset created by Wesley Chau at RISD last year
This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from Soojung Ham, industrial design department head at the Rhode Island School of Design.
How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?
For many decades, American corporations had been maintaining their business domains in mass markets by mastering their traditional business practices and manufacturing techniques. Their common interests and strategies were then to grow into global markets, increase efficiency, shorten a development cycle and offer a lower price than competitors. Over the years, many of them have moved their manufacturing facilities overseas to reduce their production costs, and later moved their design resources for further savings.
Meanwhile, over the past ten years, IT companies and startups have established new business models. They brought new design opportunities by researching emerging trends and unmet needs; developing new market segmentation to build their business channels; and introducing user-experience areas in the technological convergence between products and services. At the same time, digital applications like Arduino and 3D printing became more accessible to public users, and brought exciting opportunities to explore R&D processes through the open-source and DIY movement.
Many art schools and engineering schools responded quickly to the industry and offered design programs in UX, entrepreneurship, management and computing programs in their curricula. Ten years from now, I think many programs will be further iterated and even more integrated with other disciplines. In addition, some schools will continue to practice sustainability for ethical design strategies and collaborate with other entities (corporate/government) to create local manufacturing.
Soojung Ham (left) and ID students giving an interactive presentation
Bentwood lighting by recent RISD graduate Connie Shim(more...)
Photo by Anna Molosky
For this month's Back-to-School Special, we're going back to the basics and delving deep into the Core77 forums to answer common student queries. Yesterday, we attempted to define Industrial Design, both in terms of what it is and what it is not; today we compare and contrast baccalaureate options.
For students interested in pursuing Industrial Design, there are several educational paths available but few obvious differences between them. BA, BS, BFA, BID... what do they mean, what kind of education will they get you, and what do employers want to see? We turned to the C77 Education forum, possibly the largest collection of ID-degree holding weirdos on the internet, for the real scoop. The upshot? It really truly varies by program, so do your research and pay some visits. But here are some themes we saw across the boards.
BS vs BA vs BFA?
It's not unusual to end up at this crossroads when charting a path to study industrial design at the undergraduate level. Some schools with ID concentrations offer one and not another, but which is better? Every program is different in its specific faculty, courses offered, facilities, resources, academic tone, demographics, etc., but broadly speaking it really is as simple as Science vs. Liberal Arts vs. Fine Arts. In the experience of many commenters, a program offering a BS will be geared more towards mechanics and engineering; a BA will lean towards creative thinking and appreciation of form; and a BFA will emphasize art skills and critiques. If the program's ID focus is any good, some overlap is inevitable, since you need a solid foundation in both technical thinking and creative problem-solving. As with any other type of school choice, it's up to you to decide based on your interests and good intel on specific schools and programs. But beyond the subjective learning experience, most commenters are skeptical about the difference the degrees makes after graduation.
Tarnergine was one of many who think it's irrelevant: "The Bxx honestly doesn't matter. As long as you have a degree + good portfolio you'll be fine. Look at what the curriculum will teach, instead, and how well you will fit into the school/their philosophy."
Greenman agreed that your output matters more than the specific degree title, suggesting a simple litmus test: "...pick a school, then go on Coroflot.com to look for portfolios of students from that school. This will help you get a more detailed picture of that schools' program and level of student quality, which is also extremely important. It is not always your instructors that you learn the most from."
From outside of the United States, The_Boogey_Man respectfully disagrees: "I'm not sure if it's any difference Stateside, but I say it does matter, in fact it's quite important...I've found BA's can be very different to BsC's, with BA's offering a more holistic, creative thinking approach and BsC's focusing more on the engineering and manufacturing side of things."(more...)
Ladies Should Shred In Style, and They Will When You Join Burton Snowboards as a Women's Outerwear Designer
Burton, the world renowned snowboarding company, is currently searching for an experienced designer to join their creative team in Burlington, Vermont. As the designer for women's outerwear you will work closely with your senior design manager to produce the look, feel and attitude that sets Burton apart as the world's leading snowboard brand. You'll also research market and awareness of relevant trends and creating original outerwear designs and factory ready tech packs. Sound fun?
An opportunity this sweet won't last long, so it's best you Apply Now if you have the skills and experience they're looking for, namely, a degree in a related field + 3-6 years of industry experience, knowledge of snowboarding culture, skateboarding culture, and streetwear trends plus a strong point of view about women's outerwear.
If I were to ask you to sketch a car you'd bring to the Burning Man grounds, it's probably right to assume that it would be one of three things: 1) seemingly impossible to create in the time you've got before the next festival, 2) made of some sort of metal or other steampunk material, and/or 3) have some capacity to spit flames from some surface. But before we get into that, quick throwback: You might remember that time we covered Unknown Fields Division's solar bus prep for the big event (which resulted in this photo gallery) or our breakdown of the mobile Spanish galleon design from the 2002 festival. If you were into that, you're going to love this.
While perusing the articles, street style shots and videos of the 2014 event, I fell upon one that caught my eye right away. Among the installations and themed artwork temporarily lives the DMV—Department of Mutant Vehicles, or the people responsible for approving any of the "art cars" designed by attendees. Thankfully, someone documented this year's DMV, offering a nice look at some of Burning Man's mobile masterpieces:(more...)
Summer's over, so now we all have to switch from living it to reading about it. When it comes to the picnic tables we won't get to enjoy again until next June, they're often bulky, permanent affairs that just sit there passively. But a host of folks have created more innovative units with a bit of dynamism.
The cake-taker is probably this model, designer unknown, which folds into a bench:
And while we think of this as an outdoor piece of furniture, it does in fact have good indoor utility in a space-tight home, though the design could use some refining:(more...)
Cupertino seems to have sprung a few leaks lately, from the iCloud celeb photo hack to a drone-eye view of the spaceship construction site Of course, insofar as Apple is known for its secrecy as much as its industry leadership, the company has long been a target for another reason: speculation about new products.
Hot on the heels of Feld & Volk's hands-on teaser, above, Russian tech reviewer Rozetked brings us a fully assembled iPhone 6 a week prior to its official unveiling next week. Reportedly sourced from various factories that are supplying parts for the sixth generation iPhone, the product walkthrough imparts a strong sense of the larger, thinner smartphone's features, most notably its rounded edges and protruding camera. Other notable details include unibody construction with the signature plastic bands for the antenna, while the 4.7” screen is reportedly not made of solid sapphire (which we'd previously seen and was introduced for the home button of the iPhone 5S).
Check out the video:(more...)
For those of you about to enter Industrial Design programs, you'll find epoxy resins are a staple studio adhesive. They're part of the class of super adhesives called structural or engineering adhesives, being a vital part of aircraft construction or on the smaller-scale, furniture design (see the wood fossil table below, made by Studio Nucleo), or even used in root canals, to bind the gutta-percha to the tooth.
Epoxy resins react with what are called polyfunctional amines, acids as well as phenols and alcohols - all commonly known as hardeners or curatives. Once mixed such epoxies transform from a liquid to a solid and become very strong, withstand high temperatures and have high chemical resistance. They are called thermosetting resins, because they cure by internally generating heat.
The important thing to note when one is mixing epoxy resins is the epoxide number which represents the amount of epoxide in 1 kg of resin. This number is used to measure how much hardener you'll need to cure the epoxy. However, the mix ratio can vary by as much as 10 times, from 10:1 to 1:1. Some epoxy resin / hardener combos will cure at room temperature but most need a lot of heat, from 150° C and up to 200° C. If the resin is not heated properly the material will lose its super adhesive properties.
See the above Wood Fossil Table here.(more...)
D-School Futures: SCAD's Owen Foster on the Value of Being a Hybrid Designer and the Four Most Important Qualities in an ID Student
This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from Owen Foster, chair of the industrial design program at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?
There are two trains of thoughts here: the foundation and the progression.
Design education, as a whole, is rooted in certain fundamental practices that are needed to create the next great designers. The foundational skills of observation and application have been taught throughout the history of design and will continue to be what anchors future generations of designers. Without this core, future designers won't have the platform to jump off of to reach greater heights.
With that being said, the progression of design education is in constant change. We have moved from creating the necessary to producing beautiful artifacts and now to creating amazing user-focused experiences. The tools continue to evolve due to advances in technology, manufacturing, materials and the increased awareness of design by the masses. A designer must now be able to speak and understand multiple conversations beyond just art and engineering, including service, interaction and user experience. The goal for the future is to make sure we do not get caught up in what's new and shiny. Instead, we need to stay grounded in the foundational principles of design with the application of the tools around us.
What would you say to a prospective student who worries about the relevance of an ID education in an increasingly digital world?
I'm not so sure prospective students worry about the digital world. We need to understand that the student of today embraces the digital world as another tool for design. Being what we call "digital natives," they are very aware that design is constantly changing and the need for technology is even more valuable today. Students understand the value of being a hybrid designer and understanding all the different conversations within design—industrial, interaction and service.
The example that I give is the iPhone. Why we see the iPhone as being a complete design is not just the touch screen, the hardware or new manufacturing processes. It's also the design approach as a whole. The artifact, the phone itself, is what people label industrial design: a tangible product that is mass-produced using new materials and cutting-edge production practices.
The icons are labeled interaction design and trigger an internal drive to attain information. To compare it to a simple process, it is similar to how a door functions. A user will open a door by the means of the doorknob to attain the information on the other side of the door, much like a user will access information through an iPhone.
Lastly, what makes the iPhone so unique is the service design of iTunes. This allows users to be part of a larger family that's linked to more applications and products. If you take away the service, you're left with just a smartphone. Remove the icons and interface and you're left with a beautiful paperweight. If you remove the artifact, you're not allowed to connect to any of the digital functions.(more...)
Photo by Brian Quan
For this month's Back-to-School Special, we're going back to the basics and delving deep into the Core77 forums to answer common student queries. First up, we tackle a question as old as time... or at least the first time you heard of "Industrial Design." Just what is Industrial Design? After surveying posts on the subject and consulting our own deep internal wisdom, it's simplest to say that ID is the process of designing objects to look good and work well.
It's difficult to come by consensus beyond that, but the work of industrial designers is at the heart of virtually every industry that entails mass production, from humble office supplies to fast cars. A standard ID toolkit includes CAD programs, drawing tools both OG and digital, but also modeling materials like cardboard, clay, and finds from the Dollar Store. So, are industrial designers dreamers or makers? Are they artists, engineers, or inventors? To explore what Industrial Designers are and what they do, we turn to the crowdsourced feedback of fellow designers and trolls on our forums.
Is ID engineering?
Noahwangerin agreed that the fields blend, stressing that the purview of both industrial design and engineering are huge! "ID and engineering tend to overlap when it comes to product development... But both ID and engineering have their own spectrum that reach to opposite ends. For example ID can encompass systems, experience design, or concept art for movies and video games. Engineering can encompass stress analysis, performance tests and evaluation." But elsewhere, Bulletproof raised an eyebrow about that notion: "The only overlap I would say between [Mechanical Engineering] and ID is in knowing how to use CAD programs, and knowledge of production methods."
The degree to which they overlap notwithstanding, Cyberdemon puts it simply: "Designers are the ones who need to bridge the gap between the art and the engineering." Elegant—but how exactly does that work?...typically on large and complex projects the designers and engineers work collaboratively. Where do the components need to go, how are the mechanisms going to work, what are the requirements. The designer can lay a groundwork for this, or it can come from the engineers, it depends on the project. Once the groundwork is laid the designers will usually translate that all into CAD that then goes to a mechanical engineer who will start to detail the parts, make them feasible for manufacturing, add in all the screws and structure to make the part work, and that is what will go out for tooling.
Got that? No engineering chops needed because teamwork is good. But that still sounds really technical.(more...)
Parenting can be tough, but at Skip Hop, they believe it can be easier when you have unique, innovative and highly functional products on hand. Their growing Product Development team in the Flatiron district of New York City is looking for a motivated Junior Product Designer with a keen design sense and solid experience designing a wide range of products. If you have 3+ years of experience in softgoods design, this could be the perfect job for you.
The right person for this role is a blue-sky thinker with excellent sketching abilities who thrives in a fast-paced environment. You will be responsible for concept and spec drawings for soft toys, working with overseas factories and approving materials and construction. This is a great opportunity for growth and advancement for passionate, self-starting designers who want to work in a fun environment filled with other passionate, creative designers. Apply Now.
Yesterday I had to retire one of my well-used, much-appreciated, everyday objects and figured I'd give it a postmortem, covering what I liked and didn't like about this product design. It's the Jambox, the portable wireless Bluetooth speaker famously designed by Yves Béhar.
I used my Jambox virtually every single day from Dec. 22nd, 2012 to August 31st, 2014. That's over 20 months of daily use. It finally gave up the ghost on August 31st after sustaining damage in a fall (more details further down).
Because I used this object so frequently, I consider it as having improved the quality of my life. I've used it in every single room in my house and workplace to play music or podcasts while I go about the tedium of life and work: Doing dishes, folding laundry, sewing, working in the shop, sorting parts, fixing sewing machines, cleaning the house, cleaning the studio. I also place it in the bathroom every night when I shower so I can catch up on podcasts. To me the Jambox has been invaluable for breaking up tedium and allowing me to listen to podcasts anywhere, without the bother of headphones.
I travel with it too. On regular trips to a rental house in the country, I connect it to a projector and my laptop to play movies for the group of friends I go up there with.
I've only used it twice for its speakerphone capabilities and don't have any useful input there, beyond that it worked fine.(more...)
Editor: Where we left off, designer and entrepreneur Pat Calello had run into the headaches that can come with overseas manufacturers. Here he attempts to straighten things out with a deceptive production house—but this time he's got a secret ace up his sleeve!
In October 2003, I was contacted by the president of BRIO U.S., who expressed interest in taking on Automoblox as the sole North America distributor. Within a few weeks, we put together a distribution deal for 2004. There was also some talk of taking over the manufacturing of the line, and we discussed possible terms. But I wasn't willing to let Automoblox out of my control at this point; I still wanted to achieve my dream of being a manufacturer.
To my delight, BRIO issued a purchase order for 10,000 pieces! With the order came a Letter of Credit with an estimated ship date and an expiration date. (This means that if the Letter of Credit expires and Automoblox doesn't deliver, the sale is invalidated.) This order put Swift Tread under fire to resolve the tooling issues in order to meet the delivery date for my first customer. BRIO also talked about annual forecasts in the 60,000-100,000 piece range. At this juncture, and at the height of my anxiety, I felt it was necessary for me to leave my position at Colgate; a week later I was on a plane to China.
During my farewell rounds at Colgate, I stopped to say goodbye to a colleague Yvonne Hsu. Yvonne has the kind of energy that inspires commitment from her team, and she and I worked together under crazy deadlines. I shared with her my plans for Automoblox, and she expressed her support and encouragement. Although ideas for Automoblox had been playing non-stop in my mind, my friends and colleagues at Colgate (for obvious career-related reasons) were unaware of my personal project. Yvonne told me that her dad, who was in the manufacturing business, might be able to help me, and she suggested I give him a call. She warned me that I needed to be prepared to talk specifics, because Henry "isn't the chatty type." Her warning sufficiently scared me enough to put off calling him right away, but by February, I mustered up the courage to call for some advice.
Henry, born in Hong Kong, agreed to meet me for lunch in New York. I showed him my product, and shared with him the trouble I had been experiencing with Swift Tread. The pre-production samples functioned to some degree, but still not correctly. I told him about my upcoming trip to China to work with Swift Tread on final tool modifications and check out some new factories. To my surprise, he offered to accompany me on the trip! I explained that I was not in a position to pay him for his assistance, but he told me not to worry about it, and we agreed that I'd cover his airfare. His offer was one I could not turn down.(more...)
Australia-based machinist Ed Jones runs Ed Systems, a "Strange and somewhat crazy hobby shop that specializes in anything electrical, industrial, automotive, and anything in-between." A metal shop engineer by training, Jones' stock-in-trade is production machining, welding, injection molding, electrical work, you name it. As part of his work he needs to disassemble machinery for recycling, so when it came time to break down a Whirlpool, Jones opted for an easier method than de-wrenching it:
To be clear, Jones isn't do this (purely) for fun. "[The] machine was donated by one of Dad's friends, who happens to be a fan of [my YouTube] channel and wanted to see it die again. It was a power surge victim with a leaky drum unit, so its not a waste to scrap it. New ones are about $400, so it's not [a] big deal."
Another thing he can't do(more...)
Backpack design by CMU design student Morgan Fritz
This is the first installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Here we have answers from Wayne Chung, chair of the industrial design program at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design.
How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?
ID education today is requiring us to shove ten pounds into a five-pound bag. This sentiment has always been true for most ID educators. But it feels especially true today due to the proliferation of design positions available: IxD, UX, service design, experience design, etc. ID graduates all want to be playing a significant role in these areas. Consequently, the tools of trade, skills and type of output require augmentation and additions to the course exercises and projects. Add coding, electronics and other physical and digital interaction skills, and you have a lot to cover.
Some of the more overt differences are evident in the visual output for the digital environments. The other significant change has been that at the upper level of their education, designers are tackling wicked problems. These are societal issues that can only be addressed through systemic proposals—not just a single object or product solving a singular problem. And to make your argument for these wicked problems, a full contextual story has to be communicated. This storytelling is best done through a well-choreographed video that shows your research, analysis and insights. So you can see how the list of "required" skills is ever expanding for an ID student. But one of the things that hasn't changed is the core thinking of designing for interaction. This has always been at the CMU's forefront—whether for physical or digital.
As for ten years from now—I'm quite deficient in predicting the future. But by looking at the prior trend of our discipline being pushed into new roles and realms of business, medicine and society, it's clear that the role of design (not just ID) has to take a bigger responsibility in how the world is being shaped in physical and behavioral ways. And one of our best assets is the ability to get disparate disciplines working together toward something bigger than just the next shiny thing. Designers will not only be mastering their craft but energizing others to work communally toward complex goals and solutions.
Wayne Chung and student work by Rachel Inman and Matt Finder
CMU design students Josh Finkle and Erik Glaser at work(more...)
Introducing 'D-School Futures,' Our Interview Series on the Evolution of Industrial Design Education
ID students at the Savannah College of Art and Design
September is here, and you know what that means—the start of National Honey Month, yes, but also the reluctant acceptance by most students (and professors) that summer is really over and school is really underway for another semester. Here at Core77, we thought we'd use this back-to-school season to assess the state of design education—or, even better, to ask design educators to assess it for us.
Over the summer, we reached out to the chairs of ten top American industrial design programs and asked them each several questions about how ID education is evolving and how their programs are keeping up with the changes. Our questions were as follows:How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now? What would you say to a prospective student who worries about the relevance of an ID education in an increasingly digital world? What sets your ID program apart from those at other schools? What's the job market like for recent graduates of your program? Is now a good time to embark on an ID career? If you had to give just one piece of advice to an incoming student in your program, what would it be?
Our first answers come from Wayne Chung at Carnegie Mellon University, and we'll be posting a new interview each weekday, with participants from Art Center College of Design, California College of the Arts, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the School of Visual Arts.
These educators' answers should be relevant not only to current and prospective students but to anyone interested in the changing face of the industrial design profession. We hope that's everyone reading this—and we hope that you'll weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.(more...)