“We see how important design—not just industrial but all design—is becoming in our world. It leads to some of the most successful businesses; it solves for some terrible and tragic problems facing our world; and it can lead to simple improvements in what people use every day. Design is not only a tool but a way of thinking and we are only beginning to shed light on its understanding and value. That's what is so exciting about it. It’s something so defined, yet so undefined, and in some ways we are pioneers to this conversation.”
—Nick Savidge, IDSA, Midwest District Student Merit Award Winner
It's a three-peat! Nick Savidge, IDSA, has become the third University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) student in a row to win the IDSA Student Merit Award in the Midwest District. "I actually just sat there for a moment because I had no idea what I was supposed to do when they called my name," recalls Savidge. "Understanding all the hard work it has taken to get to this point, I couldn't have been happier to have this opportunity! Everyone else competing was amazing and will have a crazy successful design career going forward," the former chair of the UIC IDSA Student Chapter adds humbly.
Savidge graduated from UIC with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, and thanks in part to connections he made through the IDSA SMAs—was offered a job as an industrial designer in Chicago at the global design and engineering firm, LUNAR. Savidge met LUNAR Managing Director, IDSA Fellow and former IDSA President Mark Dziersk when Dziersk served as a judge in the Midwest District Design Conference SMAs. “The direct exposure I had at the conference—along with the platform I was given representing UIC and presenting my work in front of many people—certainly helped get my foot in the door,” says Savidge. In 2013, he attended an IDSA event that was hosted at LUNAR’s Chicago headquarters. “It was my first real exposure to a design firm and the first time I think I really felt like design was exactly what I wanted to do. At the time I thought my skill set was fairly average but wanted to work hard to get to a point where I could be at a firm like LUNAR!”
His dream certainly came true. But his path to ID was not a direct one. Savidge grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and visited his mother’s native Germany often while growing up. “There was a lot there that I was exposed to that I feel gave me an eye for design early,” he says. “But coming across industrial design took some time for me.” Savidge says he’s always been creative, but wanted to “ground that creativity with technical knowledge.” So when he first started college, he had what he describes as “quick stints” studying engineering and architecture, but there was something about those fields that was not a perfect fit. He hadn’t even heard of industrial design until he picked up some graphic design and 3D modeling skills in community college.
When Savidge transferred to UIC, he “just kind of went for” ID. It paid off. “The growth of the program since I began has been incredible. It could’ve saved me a lot of time and money if I’d found ID earlier in my education, but I don’t think I’d be where I am today without being given that time to explore and find what I truly love to do.” At UIC, Savidge scored an internship at CHOi Design in Chicago. “It taught me a lot, not only about various skills to build as a designer but the environment and pace at which a consultancy operates. It was a fun time and I got to work with some talented people,” he says. He’s been motivated by faculty, peers and the work of some of the greats. “But honestly, my biggest inspiration for design comes from the people I design for,” he says. “I get as inspired from listening to a story or idea a person shares—as I do from seeing the art and creativity that surrounds this field every day.”
In April 2016 at the SMAs, Savidge took the stage with three projects: a branding project centered around Batman; workout gear for professional athletes; and Muse—a Bluetooth speaker that pairs with an app, using music to remove the friction in personal work routines. “The best part of the project was hearing all the stories people shared about their experience with music.” he says. “I learned from these people that ultimately music has the ability to reach deeper into a person's mind that logic alone can, and from this I set out to create a Bluetooth speaker and UI that capture music in a more meaningful way—helping people stay focused, be creative and develop a healthier working routine.”
“We see how important design—not just industrial but all design—is becoming in our world," says Savidge. "It leads to some of the most successful businesses; it solves some terrible and tragic problems facing our world; and it can lead to simple improvements in what people use every day. Design is not only a tool but a way of thinking and we are only beginning to shed light on its understanding and value. That's what is so exciting about it. It’s something so defined, yet so undefined, and in some ways we are pioneers to this conversation.”
He adds, “The opportunities are endless and it’s an exciting future to think about, but what’s most important to me is impact. As long as what I’m doing is creating a positive impact and I have the opportunity to engage with people in a meaningful way—my career goals have been met.”