Jordan Bahler, IDSA
Chair, IDSA Indiana Chapter
Jordan Bahler, IDSA, is an industrial designer at Delta Faucet Company. She first joined IDSA through the Student Chapter at Purdue University. "After attending my first IDSA Midwest District Design Conference, I was hooked," she recalls. "I knew that being a part of this network was something I needed, especially after graduation. Some of the students I met from other schools, I still keep in touch with and I love that we met through something as random as a conference. It's really fun to see where everyone ends up and crazy when you realize just how tight-knit the ID community really is."
Bahler was drawn to design as a way to blend problem solving and a career in art. After spending several years in automotive safety—designing for off-road vehicles, hunting applications, child product, ﬁre/rescue, military and on-highway trucks—she returned to the world of plumbing in 2012 as a part of the design team at Delta.
At IDSA's Indiana Chapter, she served as secretary/treasurer; vice chair; and since 2016—chair Bahler sees IDSA chapters as valuable resource for members. "At the IDSA professional membership level, you have the ability to continue to learn and grow as a designer even though you're no longer a student. It gives you an excuse to explore other companies and studios right in your own backyard," explains Bahler. "For the same reasons I related to fellow ID students back in college, I'm going through the same challenges as a professional designer as my colleagues, and it's good to have a sounding board of people in the same position. It also gives you a chance to give back; to help current students see the potential in a career in ID and to give them the support you may have had or wanted when you were a student."
What's her take on being a female designer in a male-dominated field? "I think being a woman in design has a lot of power right now. Much like engineering, this field has been historically male dominated since... forever," she says. "Women are starting to get more involved in science-related fields and we should be. Half of all consumers are female; we design products and systems for the whole world so of course having a voice for our gender is huge."
Bahler believes that from a business standpoint there are many product areas in which women actually have more buying power. "If a company fails to understand that consumer, they miss out on a lot of opportunity. We're in an exciting time where there are increasingly more females rising through the design ranks and I hope this trend continues. These women are paving the way for more young minds to realize the sky really is the limit!"
And in a year when, for the first time, all five IDSA Student Merit Award national winners are women, she offers this advice to the next generation. "Don't think of gender as a qualifier. Strive to be the best in your class. When it comes to choosing a topic for a class project, use your female identity to your advantage. For some time now, whole product categories have been designed by men; use your personal experience to revolutionize these antiquated ideas and show the world that we need/have strong female designers."
Bahler concedes she has real issues saying "no" to volunteer work; she also serves on the board of the Design Arts Society at the Indiana Museum of Art.
She isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo and feels the best designs solve problems the consumer didn’t even know they had. Learn more about Bahler in this web series on Core77, in which she explains the collaboration between industrial designers and engineers.