Mickey McManus, IDSA | The Nature of Things

In 2012, Mickey McManus, IDSA, co-authored Trillions—a field guide to the future, when computing will be accessible freely in the ambient environment. In his current research project, Primordial, McManus and his team are exploring the impact on design when three inevitable technology trends converge. Often called the Internet of Things, pervasive computing is a game changer that’s on a collision course with two complementary trends—digital manufacturing and machine learning. 

When taken together, these three trends give us the ability to shift to an entirely new set of design and business paradigms for the first time in history. The way we design for things that begin to “wake up” is uncharted territory. If we don’t take into account our connected future and continue designing for disconnected things, we will design our way into irrelevance.

Mike Rozewicz | Blowing the Dust off the Rust Belt

As the turbulent global economy rapidly changes the world around us, we as designers are uniquely positioned to transform uncertainty into opportunity.  Growing up in the “Rust Belt,” there are constant reminders of our country’s great manufacturing history, as well as how devastated parts of Michigan remain to this day.

Facing the Great Recession of 2008, and witnessing many product development companies fold or implement layoffs, Tekna Vice President Mike Rozewicz says the company doubled down on its belief in its employees and the tremendous resources available in the region. In the worst economic times of our generation, Tekna invested in its own ideas that leveraged the power and grit of great design, engineering, manufacturing and local supply chain.

Since then, Tekna has continued to learn and refine a business model that can create and deliver meaningful innovation that’s not easily replicated by the competition. Rozewicz reveals how Tekna is moving the needle and “blowing the dust off the Rust Belt.”

Moray Callum | Are we Still a Bunch of Car Stylists?

Automotive designers are going well beyond their role of simply styling a car. The role of the designer now requires them to find new solutions to meet both customers’ needs and expectations.  Ford Motor Company Vice President of Design Moray Callum believes it’s about creating a new breed of products—using techniques that combine both the physical and digital—but still leaving a lasting, emotional connection!


Nick de la Mare | Enhancing Experience: A View From the Trenches

The design and practical construction of multi-touchpoint, organic experiences is a hot topic among designers. Nick de la Mare will bring a perspective grown from many years of designing successful physical, digital and service ecosystems for many beloved brands in entertainment/theme-parks, healthcare and education at frog design and Big Tomorrow. 

De la Mare will provide history, context and practical tips for someone looking to implement change for others or themselves in this space, and a battle-tested POV on the roles, process, organizational change and future opportunities for multi-touchpoint, service-orientated design practice that brings great experience to life.

Olga Stella | Detroit City of Design: The Role of Design in Building Detroit’s Future

Detroit is the only US city to earn a City of Design designation from the UNESCO Creative Cities Network among 22 global design cities. This 10-year designation isn’t only a badge of design excellence; it’s also a recognition of how design can help propel a city's future.

The Detroit Creative Corridor Center pursued this designation because of the impressive economic impacts that other cities within the UNESCO Creative Cities Network have experienced. Olga Stella will speak to the impacts that design can have in growing jobs, improving places and adding to cultural vitality—and the possibilities for how design can build a better Detroit in the next 10 years. 

Panel Discussion: Impact of Design as a Change Agent | Kevin Kerrigan | Amko Leenarts | Marc Greuther

Design is everywhere you look—permeating almost each and every touch point in this manmade environment. Across product boundaries; across categories; across economies—it affects everything and everyone. Design has been doing this for the last 200 years of industrialization and apparently way before that. It weaves though products and services, experiences and spaces, society and culture.

The panel is moderated by John McElroy, host of the “Autoline Daily” webcast and of the television show “Autoline This Week.” The handpicked panel features Amko Leenarts, global director of interior design at Ford/Lincoln; Alan Cobb, FAIA, and president and CEO of Albert Kahn Associates, Inc.; and Marc Greuther, chief curator and curator of industry and design at The Henry Ford, and an IDSA International Design Excellence Awards 2016 juror.

Panelists come from a rich and varied background of making and will discuss and ponder—not just the industrial design mechanics—but also the overarching positioning of design as it affects the world of products, mobility, interiors, spaces, architecture and literally everything in between.

Paul Hatch, IDSA | Design for Local

Local industry is not dead, but it is time for us to make a change. Rather than continuing to perpetuate the problem, industrial designers have the ability to make a difference. While a lot of traditional manufacturing has moved offshore, you can still find every kind of manufacturer with the talent and skills to back them. But offshore options are usually cheaper and local manufacturers find competing on a global scale is a losing battle. ‘Design For Local’ involves making strategic design choices that give the local manufacturer the advantage. We can actually design a product to be better made locally than abroad. The timing has never been better—we can leverage the activity in the Maker movement, mass customization, individualism, hardware entrepreneurship and digital hardware. Paul Hatch will show examples of activity in this area, and explain some of the strategies designers can employ. Maybe we can help turn this groundswell into a full-blown movement. 

Professor Lou Yongqi, PhD | DesignX, a New Era of Design Activism: Emerging Practices in Shanghai

In 2014, Professor Lou Yongqi, PhD, gathered scholars at Tongji University to discuss how design could address the complex issues that the world is currently facing, and the role that design and designers should play. The result: a manifesto, DesignX, a New Path of Future Design, opened a dialogue of creating new design education, research and practice models in the new era. To make these changes happen, Yongqi finds a new culture of design activism should be encouraged. He will share some pilot cases led by the College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University, that extended the boundary of design in many ways with key challenges in education, social inclusion and urban-rural interaction. Learn how design schools can be the agent for positive social change with entrepreneurship mindset and know-how.

Ralph V. Gilles | The Mixology of Automotive Design

Automotive design is at a crossroads.  As consumers become more immersed in personal technology, design leaders are reimagining the makeup of their talent pool.  Today, automotive companies are not only seeking out classically-trained transportation designers, but also are looking toward non-traditional creative talent in order to evolve and stay relevant.


FCA Global Head of Design Ralph Gilles finds that with the resurgence of Detroit,  the City of Design has attracted some of the world’s most diverse talent—ready to help retool, reimagine and move with the pace of Silicon Valley.

Richard Lambertson | Design in Detroit; Making for the World

Shinola’s Design Director Richard Lambertson will speak about the design process in Detroit and how to design a product in Detroit that tells a story worldwide; the challenges and the rewards his team faces; and how the fast-growing leather collection fits into Shinola’s line of quality handcrafted goods.

He will speak about Shinola’s commitment to American manufacturing and bringing American-made products to the world.

Robert Katz, A/IDSA | Apple v. Samsung: Past, Present, Future and its Impact on Designers

Most designers have heard about the Apple v. Samsung litigation, which focuses on design rights. But how many really know what happened before and what is happening now? 

Robert Katz, A/IDSA, will focus on details of the litigation, which led to an initial verdict of more than $1 billion, as well as what caused a reduction in the verdict.  The case will now be heard by the US Supreme Court. The session will focus on the positions of Apple and Samsung and those taken by some other parties, including IDSA, in “friend of the court” briefs. Katz also will address the likely potential impacts on industrial designers and the industrial design community based on different outcomes by the court. 

Ryan Eder, IDSA | From Thesis to CEO

Ryan Eder, IDSA, will dive into the decade-long journey of growing a senior thesis into a venture-backed company. He will share many of the hard lessons he learned and key insights it took—#MakingThingsHappen.

Scott Klinker, IDSA | Prototyping Culture

Scott Klinker, IDSA, designer-in-residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art, will share central themes that are changing international design culture—including ideas about self-production, critical design, conceptual craft and other topics. These ideas will be supported with examples of new work from Cranbrook’s graduate 3D Design program.

Terence Duncan | GenZe—Design from Scratch

GenZe was founded to provide alternative, sustainable solutions for an ever more crowded urban transportation landscape and Terence Duncan was there from the beginning. 

He has worn many hats with this fledging enterprise, including head of design & marketing—and most recently, head of product Management.  As such, he had to balance the “purity” of design with the need to create a viable product, brand and business structure.

This is not a rose-colored case study. Duncan will share the successes and missteps associated with GenZe’s journey from conception to product launch—and the often-conflicting demands of design and marketing.

Tim Morton | Inspire, Create, Deliver

Inspire, Create, Deliver

In 2013, Newell Rubbermaid, then a $6 billion company, made a significant commitment to drive its growth game plan into action by opening a state-of-the-art Design Center in Kalamazoo, MI.

Two years later through a merger with Jarden, the newly-formed Newell Brands is now a $16 billion "start-up,"  putting the consumer at the center of everything it does and weaving design and innovation into everything it does. Industrial Design Director Tim Morton reveals how the design team partners to continue to inspire consumers, create engaging experiences and deliver on the promise it set out to accomplish across more than 40 brands.

Veronika Scott | Crazy Coat Lady

Founder of The Empowerment Plan, Veronika Scott, has built an organization that began around a single idea—to design a coat specifically for the homeless. The coat is self-heated and waterproof. It also transforms into a sleeping bag at night.

That idea has now transformed into a system of empowerment in which homeless women are paid to learn how to produce coats for people living on the streets—giving the women an opportunity to earn money; find a place to live; and regain independence for themselves and their family. Scott will speak in-depth on the history of The Empowerment Plan and its future plans. She’ll also address audience questions.

Vijay Chakravarty, IDSA | Ergonomics of the Human Mind

What goes on in our heads when we make decisions? What is intuition? What constitutes the thinking-self? Why do we like a good story? What constitutes human experience? What constitutes a pleasurable experience? What role does the human mind play in all this? These are some of the questions that gnaw Vijay Chakravarty, IDSA, as a designer. 

He will share his search for answers through an exploration into the world of cognitive psychology and behavioral economics. In our quest to understand and design for the “human dimension,” we have delved into ergonomics and ethnographic research. This adds the psychological and behavioral dimension.

Tapping into the fascinating work of stalwarts in the field such as Nobel laureate Daniel Khaneman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Chakravarty presents pointers and takeaways that are relevant for designers. This is an invitation to the design community to consider the research of cognitive psychologists and behavioral economists while designing better experiences for humans.

Workshop : Future Proof

Our world is evolving faster now than at any point in modern history. Kevin Shinn, IDSA, find that as designers, we must use our innate sense of sight to plan today—for tomorrow’s disruptions. Future Proof is about predicting and planning for the future of change. Shinn will take workshop participants through a reflective phase, during which they can think and express past experiences and learnings—and then predict the future of technology, innovation, advancement, etc.