IDSA’s Central District Design Conference 2017 held at the University of Cincinnati (UC) turned out to be quite a homecoming for Chloe Georgiades, IDSA. Born and raised in Cincinnati, she was just about to graduate from UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) after winning the IDSA Student Merit Award (SMA) at UC. That meant she would represent UC at the CDDC in April.
“I had been mentally framing the SMAs as more of a learning experience than a competition,” she says. Her thought process worked. Georgiades was named the winner of the IDSA SMA for the Central District. “I was excited to hear my name called, but kind of taken aback because I wasn't really focusing on that end result.”
Her projects included a child's flotation device that enables a proper swim technique, the Mizuno Cross Country Spike Shoe featuring an interchangeable outsole, and medical design work.
Now, Georgiades has joined fulltime—San Francisco’s NewDealDesign, founded by multiple IDSA International Design Excellence Award winner and IDSA member Gadi Amit. Georgiades credits UC DAAP with helping her make a fairly seamless, cross-country transition. “Having done two internships with consultancies in the Bay Area in the last year, I was ready for the work and familiar with the area. UC's Cooperative Education Program does an amazing job of preparing students for the industry, because you have to do five internships before you graduate.”
Georgiades caught the design bug as a youngster. “I have quite a few designers in my family,” she explains, “so I was definitely aware of the profession from an earlier age than most.” In high school, she gravitated toward sciences and initially wanted to pursue a healthcare-related profession. “Ultimately, I saw ID as a way to do meaningful work in the medical industry. Even now, though I've departed a bit from my original plan, I still really like designing medical products.”
What does it mean to her to be a woman in a field with a limited number of female industrial designers? “It wasn't really a factor when choosing a field, and in school I was lucky to have amazing female peers and role models,” she says. “In industry, though, the imbalance has been a bit more noticeable—but I mostly see it as a way I can bring a unique and valuable perspective to the table.”
Like many industrial designers, she’s found herself defining her profession. “My extremely oversimplified answer to non-designers used to be, ‘Just like buildings are designed by architects and clothes are created by fashion designers, products need to be designed, too. An industrial designer touches almost every product that exists—cars, shoes, watches, headphones, for example.’"
First and foremost, Georgiades is a problem solver. “I'm interested in applying somewhat of a systematic approach to new and varying scenarios,” she says. “I think I'd be happy designing almost anything—as long as it was different, challenging and addressing a real need.”