As many of you already know, design pioneer Bill Moggridge, FIDSA succumbed to cancer this weekend at 69.
Bill's CV is unparalleled: designer of the world's first laptop, co-founder of IDEO, father of the interaction design discipline and polite advocate for the integration of human factors in the design of computer hardware and software. He created categories, contexts and spaces for the rest of us to design in that simply didn't exist before he came along.
More recently, the focus of Bill's work had shifted to storytelling. He published Designing Interactions and Designing Media. And he headed up the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum where he was in the process of reimagining the experience of archiving and broadcasting iconic design stories.
For IDSA, Bill helmed CONNECTING'07, the world design congress we co-hosted with Icsid back in 2007. During the many months he led the planning of that conference experience, he gently nudged everyone involved to dream more deeply of an event that could live up to—and possibly exceed—its advanced billing as "the design event of a lifetime."
For anyone who sat rapt in that San Francisco auditorium during the conference as Naoto Fukusawa shared his work or who stood to cheer rapturously following Sir Ken Robinson's epic speech about learning and imagination, you will remember what it felt like to experience one of Bill's dreams coming true.
More recently, Bill delivered a keynote talk at IDSA's 2012 Northeast District Conference. IDSA DVP and Conference Chair Stephan Clambaneva, IDSA recalled his relationship with Bill:
"Since Bill moved to New York to take over the Cooper-Hewitt director position (during my tenure as the New York Chapter’s chair), I had the pleasure of getting to know him. His effortless way of imparting wisdom to his audiences and his great design legacy was now being leveraged in his Third Act in what he referred to as his phase as a communicator. We all did not want this third act to end.
My most fond memory with him was having lunch on one blustery winter day in Bryant Park, sharing our passions, thoughts and ideas for elevating the importance of design in New York City and the nation. Bill‘s Third Act was building momentum, gathering support and having an impact all the way to the presidency when it was cut short.
My hope is that we come together to continue to evangelize for the value of design in everyday life and to build on his legacy in making New York Design Week bigger than Fashion Week. I was deeply honored and considered it a privilege that he keynoted our conference."
As the global design community has paused to mourn his passing, Bill Moggridge has been called a giant, a legend, an icon, a pioneer and a friend. He has also been remembered as a gentleman—one whose generosity was only equaled by his quietly towering and ever playful intellect.
Bill's loss is a huge one for all of us. But much, much more so for his family: his loving wife of 47 years, Karin, and their sons, Alex and Erik. Everyone at IDSA would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to them.
We'd like to share a few remembrance notes that have made their way around the Internet thus far:
If you haven't seen it yet, here's the Cooper-Hewitt's official tribute and the superb video they prepared to honor him.
IDEO has created a brilliant website for people to share memories and tributes to Bill's life. (Give yourself a couple hours to go through those stories.)
A designer who interned at ID-Two, a forerunner of IDEO, explains one of Bill's major contributions:
"In the late 80s and early 90s, design for screen-based interfaces was in a nascent state (interactive CD-ROMs anyone?), and physical and digital design were largely treated as separate activities. Bill was one of the first to treat them as different aspects of the same fundamental activity and end-goal. He also saw the role of user research at the front end of the design process, as a complement to the more narrowly focused ergonomics and usability testing that existed at the time."
Core77's Allan Chochinov celebrated his late friend's exceptional humanity:
"His kindness and wit, his cheerleading, his warmth, and above all his unyielding passion for the power of design have been a constant inspiration to us all, and he will continue to be a beacon of creativity for generations to come."
Helen Walters concurs:
"Here was a man who retained his love of learning, and who only quietly displayed his wisdom and insight while always listening to and processing the opinions of all around him. Bill was a powerhouse of courtesy and magnanimity and it was always such an honor to spend time with him."
The team at Design Thinking Foundations (DTF), a research initiative in Toronto, recalled a very recent visit with Bill:
"[We] had the privilege of spending a lovely afternoon with Bill in March of this year as part of the research for the Design Thinking Foundations project. Bill was as warm and welcoming in person as his reputation had suggested as we sat down to meet in his office overlooking Central Park.
Over cookies and cappuccinos we discussed the importance of design, the concept of design thinking, and how his role as a designer has evolved to bring both ideas together over his illustrious career...Bill was skeptical that design thinking could be something you could learn through reason alone and spoke to the imperative to practice design, not just preach its virtues, if one is to learn it."
Finally, we'd like to leave you with a 2010 talk Bill gave at the Cooper-Hewitt where he answered the question: "What is design?"