Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA | Viemeister Industries
Tucker Viemeister brings new meaning to the term “multimedia.” His life (not just his work) is a convergence of innovative ideas and physical stuff. Trained as a product designer, he is also involved in architecture, graphics, new media, branding and strategy. He helped create the widely acclaimed OXO "GoodGrips" universal kitchen tools. He also writes, teaches and lectures, serves on a few boards, was named after a car and still has time for volunteer work, his family and his new transdisciplinary company, Viemeister Industries, focusing on creating integrated brands, products and places. Partners include JCDecaux, Design Within Reach and Omhu.
Viemeister helped start some important design organizations: The Lab at Rockwell Group, Springtime-USA, frog design’s New York office, Razorfish’s physical design capability and Smart Design. He designed consumer products, transportation, architecture, digital interactive responsive experiences, graphics, branding and strategy, cookware and sunglasses for Corning, street furniture for the National Zoo, Internet appliances for Google, a mobile kitchen/classroom for Jamie Oliver, and in the beginning, jewelry. Clients include Apple, Coca-Cola, Cuisinart, Black & Decker, Remington, OXO, Viking, J&J, Timex, Levi’s, Gap, Phat Farm, Nestlé, Unilever, Motorola, Toshiba, Sharp, Seibu, Toyota, Nike, Knoll, Steelcase, Kate Spade, Cosmopolitan casino, Yotel and the NYC Board of Education.
As a child growing up in Ohio, Viemeister saw how much fun his father, Read Viemeister, FIDSA had working as an industrial designer (Tucker was named after the car his father was working on when he was born). He also saw the commitment his mother had for her community work. These basic influences come together in Viemeister's own design career; a mix of enjoyment and responsibility, business and culture. It's a mix that he believes is essential to good design and a healthy society.
In 1979 Viemeister began working with Davin Stowell and six years later they founded Smart Design Inc. Their most successful products are the widely-acclaimed Oxo "Good Grips" universal kitchen tools, the advanced technology Serengeti sunglasses and their packages and catalogs, Black & Decker's best-selling Metropolitan toaster, the ergonomic/psychonomic Home Phones for Cicena, the breakthrough Tea Brewer for Cuisinart, $10 million worth of wacky Joe Boxer watches with Nick Graham for Timex, and lots of other comfortable, practical, profitable, and fun stuff.
In 1997 Hartmut Esslinger asked him to open a frogdesign studio in New York City. "Genius Watch" in BusinessWeek proclaimed: "Two of the most famous and mercurial figures in the product-design world are linking up." In two years he organized frog NY's multi-disciplinary team delivering integrated strategic design and communication (ISDC). Projects included: brand positioning, concepts and packaging for Nescafé and Motorola's satellite communication systems Iridium and Teledesic, Uniliver men's personal care sport product line; design exploration for a single-use camera for Agfa; and concept exploration high-tech/ergonomic sports bra.
From 1999 to 2001, he carried a new dimension to the digital giant, Razorfish, as executive vice president of research & development he built the physical industrial design capabilities and helped direct Razorfish on a global level and internal programs like "Flying Fish," "School of Fish" and "science projects." He was involved in landing clients like Vodaphone, P&G, Ford and Nike. Cross platform projects like the dental port, Cieos or conceptual explorations like the implanted "Headphone." Extending Internet and interface across all kinds of platforms and virtual products requires a inclusive methodology. The seamless integration on all media demands a new kind of designer, that's why Viemeister called himself the "last industrial designer."
Dubbed "industrial design's elder wonderkind" when he was included in America's hottest 40 by ID, not because he was old but because of his energy. Viemeister has lectured from Budapest to Tokyo, including the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Cooper-Hewitt's Millennium conference in New York, and HAL in Osaka. He was on the faculty of Yale, NYU (interactive telecommunications program), and Parsons and has taught at Pratt Institute, California Institute of the Arts, University of Cincinnati and Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Creation Industrielle. He has served as a panelist for the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and a juror for the Rotterdam Prize, AIGA's Objects of Design, the ID Design Review and the BusinessWeek/IDSA IDEA awards. His work was selected for the first Presidential Design Achievement Award (1984), Forma Finlandia (1987), the annual ID Design Review (11 times), and the IDEA awards (seven times), and his work is represented in the permanent collections of the Cooper-Hewitt and the Museum of Modern Art, and he is listed in Who's Who in America. He edited the compendium, Product Design 6 and his "Dream Chair for On-line Reading" appeared on the cover of Microsoft's internet magazine Slate. He is working on a program to build 650 beautiful new libraries in all of New York City's public elementary schools in "The Library Initiative" with the New York City Board of Education, the Robin Hood Foundation and architect Henry Myerberg.
As a Pratt graduate (bachelor's in industrial design '74), he is chair of the Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund (honoring one of Pratt's most influential professors). Tucker is vice president of the Architectural League of New York and was on the Board of the American Center for Design. As Chair of IDSA's 2005 IDEA awards program he selected the jury and instituted a new digital jurying process. He was chair of the 1995 national conference of the Industrial Designers Society of America in Santa Fe, and chair of the Cooper Hewitt's Professional Designers Advisory Committee. He is a fellow of the Industrial Designers Society of America.
Viemeister wrote, along with author Gail Greet Hannah, Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships, published by the Princeton Architectural Press, NYC and curated "Corvettes to Cuisinart" an exhibit about six decades of Pratt industrial design alumni.
BusinessWeek calls him "Guru," and Viemeister holds 32 US utility patents.