2020 was a challenging year, to say the least. But through it all, members of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) have stepped up to help others, spoken out about important issues, kept their communities connected through virtual programming, and accomplished a great deal under tough circumstances.
IDSA’s 20/20 Recognitions, chosen this year by IDSA Staff, highlight 20 professional IDSA members who have generously offered their valuable time and talents towards the betterment of others within our Society and their communities during the year 2020. In doing so, they contribute towards advancing our mission of advancing the industrial design profession through information, education, community, and advocacy.
This list does not include current IDSA Board members, Fellows, students, and recent recipients of other IDSA Awards, and certainly not all of the many dedicated leaders of IDSA Sections, Chapters, and other groups who have made a powerful impact on our community this year. Recognition of these groups is forthcoming.
Thank you to all who have supported and contributed to IDSA membership, events, and programming this year. We are tremendously grateful for each and every one of you.
Editor's note: Most of the following descriptions were sent to IDSA by the 20/20 recipients and slightly edited below for third-person style, length, and clarity.
Raja Schaar, IDSA is Co-Chair of IDSA's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DEIC) and this year also served on the IDSA Awards Committee and as an advisor for the Diversify by Design (DxD) coalition, Where Are the Black Designers? and Black Designers Ignite. This is all in addition to her work as an Assistant Professor at Drexel University's Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, where recently she was promoted to Program Director of Product Design.
Raja has held her program together during a pandemic by transitioning to online ID learning, successfully launching the Drexel PROD Senior show, and organizing community events, all while teaching and generating new courses on Design and Sustainability. She has advised student groups committed to social justice and equity, Black Westphal and Drexel IDSA Student Chapter, and continued her work with the interdisciplinary Black Girls STEAMing through Dance team. Throughout 2020, she has spoken and written about Design and Equity, bio-inspired design, and speculative design with local, national, and international communities, including during IDSA's International Design Conference and Sustainability Deep Dive.
Says Raja: "2020 has shed a light on the persistent inequities and injustices that plague our planet. But it has also revealed a will to dismantle systems of oppression. More than anything, I’m relieved that design has entered this conversation and is willing to reckon with its role in upholding oppressive and outdated systems. I finally feel like my fascination with dystopia, gender, race, the environment, and equity make sense (and also worried we’re in the prologue of a dystopian novel)."
Raja has been motivated by the energy and commitment of her students in dismantling oppressive systems, and inspired by the ongoing successes of her current and former students and mentees, including Krystal Persaud (Grouphug), Christina Harrington, PhD (DePaul University), and Jasmine K Burton (Wish for Wash and Period Futures), as they change the world through their social impact and sustainability work. "I’m always ready to fight for, listen to, and contribute to the voices of womxn and womxn of color, especially black womxn, in pushing us towards a more just and equitable future through design," Raja says.
In addition to her 2020 writing, speaking, and volunteer experiences, Raja is very proud of her fitness, hiking, and baking accomplishments during quarantine: "While other designers were perfecting their sourdough bread, I was killing the doughnut game with perfected raised yeast, sour cream cake, old fashioned buttermilk, and vanilla cake doughnuts," she says. "Oh, and I started to dabble in the protest pie biz."
What’s next for Raja? "More futurism work, examining ethics and equity in the environment, society, health, and education," she says. "Looking forward, working more with IDSA DEIC, and devising sustainable programs and policies that lead to increased accessibility, empathy, and accountability for the industrial design community and the community at large." And: "Be on the look-out for apple cider doughnuts and more biscuit variations."
Besides being a leader of IDSA DEIC in 2020, Brian Skeet, IDSA has dedicated his time and efforts to community service and advocating for Indigenous Designers. This year he has worked with Catapult Design through IndigeDesign Collab, coming up with creative ways to adapt the CDC guidelines for public health and safety during COVID-19 in the context of the Navajo Community and Navajo way of life. The result was a single-page communications piece that was printed and delivered with each care package through the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund team to visually communicate safe practices during the pandemic; this piece was also delivered digitally through social media.
Brian worked with IndigeDesign Collab again to produce and deliver over 1000 face shields to Navajo and Hopi frontline workers, and worked with Tribal College and Universities, such as Navajo Technical University, to utilize their 3D-printing resources and the skills of faculty and students. Brian also helped IndigeDesignCollab to design the creative direction for RISE 2 VOTE: a poster show combined with a projection show to showcase Indigenous Designers on topics related to Voter Suppression, the Importance of Voting, and Safety while Voting. The event was live-streamed on YouTube with DJ OlyWurld (Otoe, Comanche, Pawnee, and Lakota) from Red Rock, OK supplying the music and ambience. "As a result," Brian says, "in addition to numerous Indigenous initiatives surrounding this year's election across the country, we contributed to the momentum that helped flip Arizona."
On a joyful note, Brian also recently married his "beautiful friend and partner in crime," Megan Skeet, during a socially distant and safe outdoor wedding in the middle of the desert.
"What do these accomplishments have to do with Industrial Design, you might ask yourself," Brian says. "Well, each and every accomplishment has used a skill or experience that is commonly found in the Industrial Design process. Industrial Design, in my opinion, is a multifaceted, dynamic, complex, and always evolving discipline that can create cultural and specific community-centered solutions. I call myself an Industrial Designer because there is no other discipline that I can think of that encompasses the skill sets that have allowed me to accomplish what I have accomplished this year."
Note: We'd also like to acknowledge the seven other leaders of the DEIC— Co-Chair ClayVon Lowe, IDSA and Ayana Patterson, IDSA, Betsy Barnhart, IDSA, Anson Cheung, IDSA, Tracy Llewellyn, IDSA, Ana Mengote Baluca, IDSA, and Amanda Huynh, IDSA—and thank them, as well members of the general Council, for holding IDSA to make meaningful changes in 2020 and beyond. This is just the beginning and we are excited for how we will continue to transform as an organization in 2021.
Danielle Chen, IDSA has built upon the success of her GSMA-winning project Play Rekindling and accomplished so much more in 2020. Early in the year she presented at the IxDA conference in Milan, Italy and World IA Day in Philadelphia before global lockdowns due to the rising pandemic changed all of our lives this spring. While she found presenting in a virtual format frustrating at first, Danielle soon realized how much she enjoyed sharing her ideas and connecting with others, even if through a screen.
"I decided to brainstorm about who might benefit the most from this time and the virtual format, and I thought of the students who are attending design programs during this pandemic, as they aren’t able to access the same kind of design education experience as most of us have," she says. "Since then, I started reaching out to different design programs and mentioned my interest in connecting and mentoring their students."
Danielle has since given talks and facilitated workshops at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Drexel University, and Thought at Work from RIT, a student-run conference where designers are asked to share their creative paths. She has appeared on Advanced Design's Context podcast and Lens conversation series and presented guest lectures and critiques at Abe Academy and Universities of Pennsylvania. She also collaborated with Headspace, the meditation app company, to create a video sharing how play can be a powerful tool to help us navigate through uncertain times, released during the week of the U.S. general election.
Looking back, "2020 has been a year of reflection for me," Danielle says. "I was never someone who paid close attention to politics and social issues; but after the killing of George Floyd, I had a long conversation with my dear friend Hanya Moharram, who graduated from Drexel University - Product Design with me, to reflect on America’s history of social injustice and what we have been seeing and experiencing as women of color in our own lives. This conversation then spun into a few deeper ones as we started brainstorming what we could do as individuals for society, and put our design skills into work."
From these conversations, Danielle and Hanya created the podcast Push&Play, where they discuss the intersection between design and social issues. Danielle is also vocal on social media about issues affecting international students, such as the ICE announcement in July 2020 of a new policy that would have forced international students enrolled at American universities offering exclusively online courses in the fall due to the pandemic to either transfer to a school offering in-person classes or depart the country. (This policy was later rescinded, after people like Danielle shared and signed petitions and wrote to their representatives in protest.) Now a Senior UX Designer at EY Design Studio in Philadelphia, Danielle recently participated in a panel discussion on the topic of “Advocating for Diversity and Equity” for Pratt Institute’s Career Day.
As for what's next, Danielle says, "I will continue to be an active voice to raise awareness of the social issues we’re facing and encourage people to take actions upon them. And I want to continue to challenge myself to embrace the unknowns, explore new skills, and own my voice."
Dr. Seth Orsborn, IDSA is a research professor at SMU in Dallas, TX and director of the Deason Innovation Gym, a 24/7 makerspace at SMU's Lyle School of Engineering that is open to all SMU students, faculty, staff, and alumni. As COVID-19 cases began to surge in the U.S. in the spring of 2020, Seth and his team at the team at the DIG quickly went to work, manufacturing face shields and delivering them to local medical professionals.
"Hearing that our frontline healthcare workers were struggling to find appropriate and well-designed PPE, we looked for the highest impact in the quickest amount of time," says Seth. "We used the NIH-approved Design That Matters redesign of Josef Prusa’s face shield, got in-field user feedback, then made a few design changes to increase comfort, durability, and protection."
For each face shield, Seth and his team 3D-printed the halo, used sewing elastic for the band, and then laser cut the shield itself from PETG or APET. Due to SMU's transition to remote learning in the spring, they started by producing small batches of 10 face shields and eventually ramped up production to 300 face shields per week. The team assembled and bagged the face shields themselves and donated them to local hospitals and healthcare centers through Dallas, including UT Southwestern Medical Center, Brookdale Hospice Care, and Watermark Urgent Care, a local clinic treating the uninsured.
Seth also stepped up to be the new Vice Chair of IDSA-DFW, one of the earliest professional chapters to emerge from IDSA's new City-Based Chapter Initiative. "At the beginning of 2020, the creation of IDSA-DFW was already in preliminary discussions," Seth says. "David Patton, former chair for IDSA-TX, has assembled a fantastic team and I was honored to support him and the team in establishing the city-based chapter and bringing together our inaugural event."
For 2021, Seth is eager to increase the opportunities between designers, aspiring designers, and design advocates. "I’m starting by creating product design courses that will connect design students with local companies and launching an SMU Product Design and Innovation Council," he tells us. "The goal is to gather regional design leadership which will inform our community, inspire future designers, and build relationships among product designers in Dallas-Fort Worth through events, speakers, and workshops, in collaboration with IDSA-DFW."
Known for her contributions to the advancement of women in industrial design and sustainable design, Shujan Bertrand, IDSA has used her unique skills for immense social good this year. She and her San Francisco-based design studio Aplat, which manufactures zero-waste products, quickly pivoted to producing PPE when the novel coronavirus began spreading worldwide in early 2020.
"In early March, before California's shutdown, I was watching Europe and Asia struggle through the early stages of the pandemic," Shujan recalls. "I paid close attention to the shortage and increasing demand for protective face masks and knew that I had to do something to help. Intuitively I began to prototype and refine over 50 designs and landed on the best mask design that fit over my family's various face shapes and sizes, and for a sister who is a MD surgeon, wanting this design to support her needs first. With my factory across the street from the studio, in just two weeks, I was able to produce 10,000 masks to donate nationwide, to hospitals and essential healthcare workers."
Aplat has since donated over 20,000 masks to frontline workers, and the free Aplat mask pattern has been downloaded over one million times across the world. "I’ve received letters and images from people who have made their own Aplat mask at home, connecting me to others during challenging and uncertain times," Shujan says. The Aplat origami mask design also made the cover of INNOVATION magazine "Urgent Design" Summer 2020 issue, accompanied by Shujan's article "Origami to the Rescue."
Staying in business and making it through 2020 has been an accomplishment in and of itself for Shujan and her team at Aplat; although, much to their surprise, Aplat's masks and matching culinary totes have now become the company's best-selling products. "The intention was to manufacture masks as a temporary solution to serve the shortage and for donation only," Shujan says, "but today we continue to provide Aplat origami masks in seven different colors. We use the same sustainability zero-waste designs and origami principles applied in the rest of our collection in our masks. All of our products are compostable and biodegradable at the end of their lifecycle."
Shujan adds that her key motivation to get through this year has been her family and friends. "Our circle is small but strong," she says. "Friendship is rooted in my design community, all of which are IDSA members or have served on the IDEA jury with me these past few years." She also continues to be inspired by authenticity, zero-waste living, gardening, and nature.
Currently, she's developing her home property into an outdoor social space with an edible garden, researching partnerships with emerging sustainable fiber companies to work into Aplat's circular economy business model, and exploring how to continue to fold origami designs into the Aplat collection. "Every product we make scales into the family of golden ratios," Shujan says. "In the future, we hope to publish an 'Aplat Origami Design' book filled with endless ideas of how to transform a single sheet into new forms."
As Chair of IDSA-Denver, Josh Hoffeld, IDSA has become very involved in his local community. "I was motivated to get myself out of my comfort zone by meeting new people to share ID skills," Josh says. With the pandemic keeping so many people at home and isolated this year, Josh and his team at IDSA-DEN decided to create a series of weekly webinars to show different aspects of the design development process. Their goal was to draw in a mix of people, including ID students, professionals, and others in the community with an interest in learning about industrial design.
The last in-person event the chapter held in 2020 was on National Industrial Design Day, when they invited ID students at MSU (where Josh is an adjunct faculty member) to learn from and talk with professional designers in the area. Virtual programming that followed through the spring and summer of 2020 included events on Sketchbook Pro with Josh, Ethnographic Research with IDSA-DEN Vice Chair Trent Garner, UX Design with the chapter's student liaison Furman O'Dell, and Emotional Intelligence with Jason Belaire, IDSA.
Two virtual events focused on diversity in design followed in October and November 2020: an "Embracing Diversity" panel discussion with designers Spencer Nugent, Chloe Riggs, Chenghui Xu, and Kim Harris, and a "Effective Change by Design" presentation by Dream Culture, an organization in the Denver metro area dedicated to producing youth programming that teaches creative problem-solving for cultural impact.
This year Josh also joined the Offsite pilot program from Advanced Design to level up his skill set through various courses. "I felt that there were gaps in my design knowledge," he says. "With that, I plan to give back." Recently Josh was asked to talk to a local high school for their product design classes so they are more prepared for college, and currently he is working to reactive the IDSA Student chapter at MSU. Meanwhile, he and his chapter are planning more educational ID webinars for 2021.
"We plan to continue to bring awareness of ID as a career path to the local community," Josh says. "Reaching out to the ID students and informing them what IDSA can do for them will be the driver for our webinars."
Jasmine Kent, IDSA is an associate apparel designer at Under Armour and community strategist at Hue Collective, the planning committee behind the annual Hue Design Summit: an un-conference for Black designers and developers to cultivate community. This year, the 4th annual Hue Design Summit was hosted virtually for the first time and had over 100 attendees join in from around the world. (Disclosure: IDSA was one of the sponsors for the 2020 event.)
"Our speaker roster was packed with talent, starting with our keynote: Cheryl D. Miller, acclaimed Graphic Designer, who set the tone of purpose, passion, and elevation through sharing her journey and personal archive, which is now an esteemed collection at the Stanford Library," Jasmine says. "Other speakers were Oluwaseyi Sosanya, founder and CEO of Gravity Sketch; Nick Phillips and Sergio Marquina, co-founders of Studio 2133; Regine Gilbert, author of "Inclusive Design for a Digital World;" Eso Tolson, freelance type expert; Delia Grenville, Director of Global Supply Chain at Intel Corp; and Yani DaCosta, Art Director and At-Large-Representative for the Graphic Arts Guild." More information on the virtual event can be found at HueDesignSummit.com.
"Our attendees recapped the Summit saying they felt inspired, educated, and excited to move forward in their careers," she says. "We are looking forward to our 5th Summit in 2021 to be even bigger, better, and more impactful for our community!"
Jasmine also participated in the Lens round table discussion "Black Designers on Race and Design" with Kevin Bethune and Spencer Nugent, moderated by Hector Silva, Executive Director of Advanced Design. "This talk was the launching pad that boosted my online presence and led to the many other speaking engagements I have done since," Jasmine says. "I will always call out racial inequality while still advancing myself, my skill set, and ultimately, my purpose."
She has since spoken at the Black Designers Ignite virtual event in August 2020 and been involved with IDSA's DEIC. Her goal is to "increase black female representation in the Industrial Design field, increase diversity at industrial design firms, and gain more professional growth opportunities through my involvement. I don't want diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging to be a fad. I want it to be a lifestyle."
In 2020 especially, Jasmine says she has been encouraged by the resilience of the Black community: "I am in awe that my ancestors had to dedicate their lives to fighting for freedom and equality that they would not get to see in their generation. It makes me wonder what types of lives, hobbies, and businesses they would have gotten to create if they didn't have to fight to just be alive. I see now that I have the opportunity to do that with my life and that just living and excelling in my black skin is a form of protest. So I'm motivated and inspired by my ancestors to create a life that is fulfilling, creative, exciting, and purposeful."
If you're an industrial designer with legal questions. ask Joel Delman, IDSA. Joel is known for providing personal guidance to IDSA members on IP and contractural issues, and this year has been especially generous with his time and resources. "I'm always available to help," he tells us (you can reach him by email here).
Formerly a corporate and intellectual property lawyer, Joel is a graduate of Harvard Law School and later earned a Master's in Industrial Design at Pratt Institute. He is the current Chair of IDSA's Design Protection Committee, and IDSA's liaison to both the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)'s Industrial Design Committee and Design Profession Subcommittee. In 2020, he also participated in planning the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)'s "Design Day," and spoke at two IDSA National events. In August, he participated in a Design Voices webinar with host Charles Mauro CHFP, IDSA and co-presenter Elizabeth Ferrill, titled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: How Recent Design Patent Cases Will Impact Design Protection.” In September, as part of the first virtual International Design Conference, he presented the seminar "Legal Contracts for Designers: (Almost) Everything you Need to Know."
"With respect to accomplishments this year, I want to highlight the significant contributions of Charles Mauro, a long-standing and esteemed IDSA member who has played a leading role in fostering knowledge and appreciation of design protection amongst the IDSA community and the world at large," Joel says. "This year alone, Charles put in many hours to spearhead IDSA’s Amicus Brief in Columbia Sportswear v. Seirus, and organized/hosted the Design Voices webinar noted above. My contributions in 2020 rest on a foundation which Charles helped build over many years."
Additionally, Joel says he is inspired by "the positive impact and efforts of so many IDSA members, through the design of everything from life-saving medical devices to stylish masks during the crisis we're all going through." He remains optimistic about what the future will look like for industrial designers on the other side of the crisis, and will no doubt continue to be of service.
Karen Stone, IDSA is Design Director at Knoll and an adjunct professor at Pratt Institute, where she also is the faculty advisor for the Pratt IDSA Student Chapter. Karen is not only a passionate design educator but also someone who makes time for her students outside of the classroom, holding regular meetings and making direct introductions between students and IDSA staff, Pratt alumni, and other ID professionals. This year she has been working with IDSA Staff on a possible blueprint that could be replicated to make student chapters across the country more connected to IDSA National.
Moreover, she has successfully engaged and led her students through a switch to a completely remote learning environment earlier this year, with all of the difficulties that entailed. "As a design professor, I find that my students provide inspiration on a regular basis," Karen says. "However, 2020 has been an experience beyond anything any of us could have expected." She remembers very clearly the first time she held class via Zoom, after the return to the Spring 2020 semester was delayed due to the onset of COVID-19. "Students were scattered in different cities, and when they saw each other (some of them on their small screen on their phone) for the first time after all those weeks, they were so happy. We all laughed a lot. None of them had ever Zoom’d before and I think they were surprised that I got it to work."
Stone teaches courses in Pratt's Industrial Design department with the curriculum of Rowena Reed Kostellow, FIDSA: Three-Dimensional Design methodology. "The transition of the lessons, from the traditional practice of hands-on, abstract, and playful 3D design sketching to virtual teaching, has been really rough," she says. At the same time, "students have said, and I absolutely agree, 2020 has forced all of us to learn new technologies and new ways of doing everything, more than we could ever have imagined...It has has been quite inspiring for me to watch how students have jumped in, experimenting with new platforms, apps, software, etc., in addition to seeing them use their imagination to learn all they can."
Her Zoom classes now include students spread over a 15-hour time difference. "We have celebrated holidays and customs of their different cultures," she says. "The world is smaller; we feel closer as a community."
Simultaneously, "the Pratt Student Chapter of IDSA is working hard on their initiatives, especially those that help them to connect," Karen continues. "As Faculty Advisor, I am seeing that they are keen on taking advantage of various platforms and virtual sessions to organize student meetings, and more students are attending."
She acknowledges that students are also feeling the pressure of what’s next, and are well aware that the job scene will be competitive coming out of school. A virtual session scheduled for the 2020 winter break will focus on portfolio building, conducted by Pratt faculty. Following this workshop, a Spring 2021 session planned and organized with support from the IDSA-NYC professional chapter will involve New York City-area professional designers giving students direct input related to portfolios. Another ongoing project for the Pratt Student Chapter is building open studios via social media.
Also next semester, "we plan to launch a mentorship program for ID students, matching more experienced students with those just starting out in their design studies," Karen says. "Sharing lessons learned, whether it be in new discoveries in technology or just simply in how to manage day-to-day life these days, has been students’ focus. I remind students to engage, participate, reinvent themselves, and contribute to being good citizens of the world, to work hard and dream with ambition. What’s next is in their hands."
If you're an IDSA member receiving the quarterly print issue of INNOVATION magazine, you've probably read Scott Henderson, IDSA's "Design DNA" column (you can read the latest from the Fall 2020 issue here). Perhaps you've heard that he's a judge on the new TV series "New York by Design: Innovations," airing Saturdays in the NYC metro area through December 26 and featuring other IDSA members Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA, Stephan Clambaneva, IDSA, and Mauro Porcini, IDSA, among many more designers in New York City. Scott also appeared on the "California by Design: Innovations" series that aired this summer on channels in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.
There's a good chance you've seen one of Scott's designs in public this year, too. The ZShield face shields from ZVERSE have been worn by politicians, celebrities, and frontline workers throughout 2020; and for Scott, the project was especially meaningful.
"The gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic and how my home of New York City became the first epicenter for the crisis in the United States really effected how I view design," Scott says. "I saw firsthand the devastation wrought by this terrible disease, watched the streets of the busiest city in America become deserted overnight, and empathized with the heartbreaking loss that so many New Yorkers, Americans, and everyone around the world have experienced. I think as designers we are uniquely positioned to use our problem-solving skills and vision to help tackle the world’s most dire problems, and 2020 has made it crystal clear that the time is now."
So when ZVERSE asked Scott to help them rethink the face shield, he says he jumped at the opportunity: "Not only because it was a great challenge well-aligned with my core strengths, but because I wanted to take part in history by creating a product that would help ease the worst health emergency in modern times."
Scott heads the design and product development studio Scott Henderson Inc. in Brooklyn, NY and was recently featured in NYCxDESIGN's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide. As for what's next, he's excited to continue evangalizing the importance of design through platforms like the "By Design" series of television shows. Also, "I’ve really enjoyed writing for INNOVATION over the last year and a half, so I am very interested in taking that further by writing a book about design," Scott says. "I want to delve deeper into my observations and the philosophy I’ve developed over the last 30 years as a member of our thriving and vibrant design community."
Monica Tournoux, IDSA is Chair of the IDSA-Columbus chapter and a senior industrial designer at Design Central in Columbus, OH. With Cori Rowley, IDSA, Monica co-emceed IDSA's virtual Women in Design Deep Dive in October 2020 and was a leading force behind several other events that brought designers together online this year.
With IDSA-COL Vice Chair Romina Barrera Enciso, IDSA, Monica co-hosted the third annual and first virtual edition of Taboo Schmaboo: an IDSA-COL event focused on confronting stigmas and breaking down barriers in design, with the 2020 theme "High Tides, Rising All." Monica and Romina also worked with the leaders of IDSA's other professional Ohio chapters, IDSA-Cincinnati and IDSA-Cleveland, on the virtual event Blurred Lines, which explored the intersections of ID, UX, and UI. And if that wasn't enough, Monica served on IDSA's Education Council in 2020, helping with the IDSA Student Merit Awards and other educational initiatives in IDSA's Central District.
Looking back on this whirlwind year, Monica is full of gratitude. "I have been extremely motivated by being surrounded by so many talented and passionate people who want to continue to push forward, go beyond, and do what we can for our communities and others," she says. "Special thank you to my co-chair Romina Barrera for helping make sure Taboo Schmaboo 3.0 happened this year. Thank you to Caterina Rizzoni and team from the IDSA-Cincinnati Chapter, and Joanna Celestina and team from the IDSA-Cleveland Chapter, to make the Ohio cross-chapter Blurred Lines event happen."
Although originally planned to be an in-person gathering in Columbus, OH this spring, the switch to a digital Women in Design event in the fall for the sake of public health ended up being an "amazing opportunity for the event to reach many more people around the globe," Monica says. "All in all, being a part of this organization that has opened the doors to connecting with many more talented and amazing creatives doing the best and most inspiring things, in and outside of their careers, keeps me motivated and excited to always be doing more."
For now, Monica plans to lay low and let people enjoy their downtime this holiday season, while also promoting other IDSA chapters hosting their holiday events this year. "Next year, we plan to have even more cross-chapter collaborations, working smarter to build a network of creatives, and utilizing the online format in new ways to build engagement and inspiration," Monica says. "The thing I love most about our chapter is that it is a blank slate: a powerhouse platform that we use to highlight people doing incredible things, and sharing that out to the world."
David Patton, IDSA is Vice President of Product Design at VARI, a U.S. manufacturer of flexible workspace solutions and office furniture based in Coppell, TX. Formerly the Chair of IDSA-Texas, David is now Chair of IDSA-DFW: the first chapter to evolve from IDSA's new City-Based Chapter Initiative. David has been responsible for creating practices for developing city-based chapters in regional areas this year, such as IDSA-Texas becoming IDSA-DFW and IDSA-Austin, with the goal of rolling out more city-based IDSA professional chapters throughout Texas in the years to come.
Also in 2020, David served as Chair of IDSA's Nominations Committee, alongside committee members David Allan, IDSA, Autumn Groleski, IDSA, Mike Lyden, IDSA, Ellise Smolenyak, IDSA, and Yi-Ping Wong, IDSA. The 2020 Nominations Committee was responsible for developing a slate of candidates for several open IDSA leadership positions for the 2021-2022 term, including on IDSA's Board of Directors and Districts Committee. Following an open call for interest and nominations, the Nominations Committee went through a rigorous, month-long review process before submitting their list of candidates to the current IDSA Board of Directors for approval.
At the same time, a very difficult year for innumerable reasons has strengthened David's resolve to keep trying, as a designer, leader, and person in the world, to do and be better. "This year will remain a cultural milestone amongst humanity and the industrial design profession," David says. "The effect that it's had on me personally and professionally is quite profound and, in many ways, a test of character."
He and his team at VARI started 2020 with a product roadmap that was "quickly devoured by the pandemic," he says. "Like many others worldwide, we rose to the challenge of helping people stay healthy and employed. We worked long hours and made personal sacrifices...The fight continues, but now we have a new perspective and a new product roadmap that emphasizes human-centric design for a post-pandemic world."
He's also proud of what he's seen and continues to see in the IDSA community this year. "At the beginning of the pandemic, colleague and friend Kyle Ellison of Trailside Creative (Chair of IDSA-Austin) worked hard to coordinate resources to battle the spread. Working with local 3D-printing companies in Austin, Kyle helped get mask and PPE parts made for hospitals and frontline medical workers. His efforts extended to other communities like mine in DFW, and he continues his efforts today."
David also credits designers like Shujan Bertrand of Aplat who are working to make wearing masks more comfortable, fashionable, and earth-friendly. "These are just a few of the many stories where designers stepped up to help," David says. "They aren't just inspiring; they reinforce my faith in the role of industrial design in improving the quality of life experiences."
This year, Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, IDSA has made great strides with her product design and development studio Interwoven Design. As Principal and Founder of Interwoven Design Group, based in Brooklyn, NY, Rebeccah combines her expertise in wearable technology and smart textiles to lead her team in producing innovative design solutions. Her clients have ranged from startups to NASA, and her studio's varied work in 2020 includes the HeroWear Apex "Exosuit for All," designed to fit a diversity of bodies (i.e. not just male bodies). On Interwoven's Instagram account, she and her team post about notable women in design, past and present, alongside process videos and photos of the designs they bring to fruition, from concept ideation sketches and materials research through to the integration of electronics, and always with a "laser focus on fit, style, and function."
In addition to running a design studio, Rebeccah is an adjunct professor and lecturer in Pratt Institute's Industrial Design department, as well as the founding director of the Intelligent Materials Applied Research and Innovation Lab (IMARI) at Pratt. With her vast experience in the industry, Rebeccah provides her students with invaluable insights as a female design leader—and not just from her work at Interwoven, but also as a former design director for Fila, Champion, and Nike.
Rebeccah says she is inspired by creative problem-solving and loves finding the answer to really tough questions; so, in a sense, she is well-suited for uncertain times like these. However, there's "no doubt 2020 has been a hard year for everyone," Rebeccah says. "When business was shut down here in NYC in early March, we [at Interwoven] had to scramble to find a way to work together without losing our momentum."
By finding and adopting multiple software platforms for collaboration, "we were able to continue to work together without skipping a beat and deliver incredible products for our clients," she continues. "I am inspired everyday by the resilience of the incredible designers who keep Interwoven going, and who worked together with me to solve difficult problems and overcome the challenges of working remotely."
What's next? "Sky's the limit!" says Rebeccah. "No, seriously—I’m working on some top-secret space exploration stuff."
An IDSA Student Merit Award winner in 2015, Rotimi Solola, IDSA has continued to grow and succeed as a designer, even in as tumultuous a year as 2020. As the founder of the independent consulting practice SO design and a visiting instructor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Rotimi has been motivated by many factors this year, including his commitment to design education and to his students at UIC. If you follow Rotimi on Instagram, either at @rotimi_solola or @so.dsgn, it's easy to see why his students admire and are continually inspired by him and his work.
"2020 has been hard on students nationwide, and I’ve tried to adapt and continue to add value even under less than ideal circumstances," Rotimi says. On the business side, "for most people, 2020 started a bit rough," he adds. "This was going to be THE BIG YEAR for SO design, but that’s not exactly how things went. As the year progressed though, I found myself picking up more and more projects from industries that were positively impacted by the pandemic. It started to get so busy that I was able to hire my fourth summer intern since I opened up shop in 2018."
Another big motivation for Rotimi was found in collaborating with other designers in 2020. "When work slowed, I was able to collaborate with the talented branding and packaging designer Candace Carson," he says; their stunning work together can be found here. "We were able to produce a strong portfolio piece that showcased a small portion of our abilities as designers, and this sparked many new ideas for the future."
"The last significant motivator has been with my clients," Rotimi continues. "Maintaining a strong and respectful relationship with my work partners is extremely important to me. I’ve focused on building lasting relationships that go beyond the present-day projects that I’m working on into being viewed as an integral part of various teams that I work with."
Rotimi's work in 2020 also includes the elegant Alt Pen, a minimalist pen with a secondary function a precision tool that is available to order now. And the future for new projects is looking bright. "I can honestly say that SO design has started to take off," says Rotimi. "I’ve been able to expand and work with so many trusted freelancers because of the amount of work that has been coming in. I’m looking forward to further expanding the business and working with new talent along with my current design partners; but above all, I’m very excited to finally be able to share some of the amazing work that SO design has been doing as we bring new products to market in 2021!"
Miranda Degg, IDSA is an industrial designer at Delve in Madison, WI and a dedicated volunteer for numerous ID groups. As Vice Chair - Madison for the IDSA-Northern Lakes chapter, she and the chapter board have hosted many virtual events to keep their community connected, from more casual Happy Hours and Water Cooler Zoom meetups to bigger events like "Women in Industrial Design: Generations," a panel discussion moderated by Degg with star designers Lucia DeRespinis, IDSA, Amelia Kennedy, and Lea Stewart.
"I've been able to be a part of so much this year because of the teams that surround me," says Miranda. "Nothing I've accomplished has been a solo act and I owe the success of these events to the support of my teammates. Sara Pedersen and Gabriel Ruegg [Event Coordinator and Vice Chair - Minneapolis/St. Paul for IDSA-Northern Lakes, respectively] were instrumental in building connections for the 'Women in Industrial Design: Generations' panel discussion, and they were so supportive anytime I got nervous about the event. Talking to rockstar designers is nerve-wracking!"
Miranda also worked with Advanced Design's Offsite program for its inaugural year of courses. "I am a member of the XP Team for Offsite and have been following the lead of Fiba Kelani, who has really pioneered the vision for how to gather feedback from the Offsite students," Miranda says. "We've gathered some great insights from the first cohort's students and are looking forward to implementing their feedback to make the next cohort even more awesome."
What's more, Miranda gives her time to the group Women in Industrial Design: Chicago, co-founded by IDSA members McKayla Barber and Mallory Evans. Says Miranda: "One of my favorite things we've collabed on was the Protestor's Handbook. Tati Ferrucio, McKayla Barber, and myself banded together to create a handbook that detailed protestors’ rights, as well as organizations individuals could support if in-person protesting wasn't an option for them." The free downloadable booklet is available to all; check it out here. Miranda is also a panelist for WIID; you can read articles written by Miranda and other panelists on the excellent WIID blog here.
To sum it all up, "the teams I'm in are really what inspire me," Miranda says. "When this lockdown started, I figured I would be getting back two hours a day (no more commute) and might as well try and fill that time with something worthwhile. I think we all entered this year with big ideas and grand plans, and though many of them fell through, we all were determined to make something happen. It's been hard and it's been fun. I think we'll look back on these events and accomplishments and feel good about the effort we gave this year."
At the same time, "we're all looking forward to 2020 ending and gaining a 'fresh start' in 2021," she says. "There is a party in the works, as well as several awesome events and collaborations."
Stephen Chininis, IDSA is a Professor of Practice in the School of Industrial Design at Georgia Tech and Principal of Chininis Product Development Group. His specialty in integrating invention and innovation, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit he infuses into both the work he does and the design studios he teaches, have proved beneficial in 2020.
For many years, Steve has a taught a course at Georgia Tech that challenges students to design and manufacture a product, and then make 10 of them to sell at an event called MAKE 10. "The idea was to help students understand how to consider manufacturing as part of the design process," Steve says. "As digital product manufacturing has become more and more feasible, it has turned into a way to generate mini startups." This project took on an urgent, real-life relevance when the pandemic hit.
In the early months of coronavirus cases surging in the US, Steve's wife Maria came home from the hospital where she works and asked him if he could figure out a way to use all of his "fancy 3D printers and laser cutters" to make face shields for frontline workers, Steve says. "I took the challenge, since I figured that if I was teaching it, I should be able to do it!"
Within a week, Steve had designed a face shield and had it reviewed by infectious disease experts at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, GA. "After the face shield design was approved, I built a factory in my garage and was making 10 reusable face shields a day, then 20, then 30," Steve says. "It was a challenge to design and manufacture a high-quality product with the tools and materials that I could get my hands on in a short period of time, but it was also a lot of fun and really rewarding."
Recognized as a "local hero" by his local Peach Tree Corners Magazine, Steve went on to provide over 300 face shields for hospitals across the US. "I was inspired by all the frontline workers that rushed in to help the first wave of COVID patients," Steve says. "They were panicked and scared, but they did not hesitate to put themselves in danger to help others. I was honored to be able to help them a just a little. They are true American heroes."
After making the face shields, Steve started working on other COVID-related problems. "My investigation into the rapid deployment of digital products like this has of course got me thinking about the future of product development with current and emerging new digital tools," he says. "It amazed me how I was able to scale quickly by finding other designers with 3D printers who could help. I sent my plans to others, who also created manufacturing lines."
Now, Steve is using some of these ideas in the classroom, such as how to design manufacturing lines along with the design of products, to teach students how to respond quickly to emerging problems.
As Chair of IDSA-Northern Lakes in 2020, Lauren Dern, IDSA led a committed team of volunteers and set a shining example for all other IDSA professional chapters to follow. The virtual events that IDSA-NL has hosted this year and the resources they have provided, especially after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis this summer, have inspired the ID community—especially at IDSA—to speak out against racial injustice, not only in our local communities but in industrial design as a profession and in the design industry at large. In the IDSA-NL virtual event "Racial Barriers & Breakthroughs," Kirk Morris and Le'Spencer Walker shared their experiences as Black men and designers navigating the systemic inequities and subconscious biases they've encountered throughout their careers. You can watch the recording of that event here.
"2020 has been a challenging year for many," Lauren says, citing "the shift to work-and-life-at-home, fear of the virus, and anger at the system that has perpetuated inequality" as motivating factors for her strong leadership in action this year. "However, there have been some wonderful things that have happened in response to these challenges" she adds. "I wasn't sure what to expect when I asked this team of designers to join me on the Northern Lakes chapter, but they have been invigorating to work with. Through honesty, respect, and a lot of humor, they have become an inspiring support to get through the lows of 2020 and celebrate the highs. I have learned so much from them and look forward to how we will push each other and grow in 2021."
Lauren says she's also had the privilege to make meaningful connections with many more designers in 2020, and in a new way, that probably never would have happened without virtual programming. "I have learned to be more empathetic though the greatest challenges this year," she continues. "I still have the fight in me, but now it is composed in a more constructive and kinder way."
As for what's next, Lauren and IDSA-Northern Lakes are looking forward to building on all they've accomplished in 2020, "and hopefully meeting some designers in-person later in 2021!"
Jonathan Thai, IDSA is the co-founder with Michael Yim of Hatch Duo, an industrial design and project engineering company in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jon and the team at Hatch Duo have many accomplishments to celebrate 2020, despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and also with the strong, collective desire to continue to support the ID industry in new, meaningful ways.
"The main source of motivation for 2020 was how impactful we could be: how a small team like ours could utilize social media, design, and teaching to impact the communities we participate in," Jon says. "Whether that was to serve more Entrepreneurs that were POC, designing for a pandemic support effort, or giving talks to spread our ideas about how to adapt to a changing world of tech/design, we wanted to see how we could be more than just 'designers.'"
This year, Jon and his team at Hatch Duo ran a GoFundMe campaign to help with their local effort of donating face shields to Santa Clara Kaiser and other surrounding Santa Clara County hospitals. They also put up their DIY accessible face shield design so that anyone could replicate and scale their effort internationally. They put out advice on how to help creative teams transition into a remote setting through videos, blogs, and panel discussions, helping the design community to adapt during the pandemic. They started a YouTube channel to inspire younger designers, entrepreneurs, and others within the design community. They received an IDEA 2020 Featured Finalist recognition for their design and engineering of the AI scribe Robin Healthcare, and they helped Solgaard launch their Bluetooth/solar boombox, designed with upcycled ocean plastics, among many design projects.
And through it all, Hatch Duo survived and stayed profitable in 2020. They were even able to scale their team and invest in four unique hardware startups, using design as capital. "We will publicize some very fun projects soon, including those in robotics, AI, health and wellness, and consumer electronics," Jon says. "We hope to expand our team and grow this coming year, along with growing our YouTube channel to produce more fun content. We also are hoping to continue finding great entrepreneurs and ventures to invest in. Our goal is to eventually lean into a venture studio business model."
Personally, Jon says he has been motivated to prove that he belonged in this entrepreneurial space, and that he could sustain the lifestyle and the momentum. More broadly, he has been inspired "by how much impact communities can produce, based on a collective effort to make the world better, whether through Covid support or standing up to racial injustice."
As Chair of the IDSA-Atlanta chapter, Veronica Orecchia, IDSA led the way in switching to virtual events. Though she and her chapter team were preparing to put on their second annual Southern Design Summit at Georgia Tech in 2020, fresh off a series of successful "Brew Crew" chapter events in 2019 and a rousing National Industrial Design Day celebration in early March, the rise of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. necessitated a change of plans.
First, Veronica and the other IDSA-ATL chapter officers held a twist on the classic 5 in 5 format event—5 speakers, 5 minutes each—with designers sharing their stories of working from home. It was the first cross-chapter virtual collaboration, co-hosted with the newly formed IDSA-Austin chapter, and more Zoom events followed that encouraged other IDSA chapters across the country to host their own virtual events for their communities.
"This year definitely taught us how to pivot," Veronica says. "Going from a very physical event structure to moving fully into digital was a tough transition and an accomplishment on its own. We've learned a ton about how different that is and what opportunities come with it. We've been able to collaborate with people from all over the country and it's been very exciting!"
After the 5in5 event, IDSA-ATL held an "Anything But COVID-19" virtual Brew Crew to talk about, well, anything but COVID-19. Next came a Design Discussion with Krystal Persaud, followed by the panel discussion "Kitbashing a Toy Design Career" with the Toy and Game Design Association (TGDA) and designers Luis Schittone, Katie Lim, and Omar Gonzalez.
Even during this difficult and uncertain time, Veronica has found ways to stay inspired and keep going. "It's tough to keep motivation up, but it also gives us time to really focus and hone in on our skills and what brings us joy as designers," she says. "Personally, I've been inspired to get more hands on with my work again and have started taking blacksmithing classes. It allows me to appreciate technique, time, and hard work put into creating things. And it has inspired me to find more specific and unique topics to learn more about in our events."
Veronica also credits Vice Chair Josh Madwed, IDSA, for maintaining IDSA-ATL's presence and voice on social media, and for more than doubling the chapter's Instagram following (shout out to @idsaatlanta!)
"As a chapter, we want to take our ability to be super concentrated on topics digitally and find a way to blend that back in with the IDSA-Atlanta local identity," Veronica says. "We want to find more ways to get people involved and truly feel like they are a part of the community and learn about things specific to their experiences as designers in Atlanta."
Dominic Peralta, IDSA has a big heart and a deep desire to be of service. This year alone, he has worked on five COVID-19-related projects, in addition to many other products he has developed in 2020 as an industrial designer and founder of stellar ★ design, a product design studio in San Mateo, CA.
"This year there have been many things that have inspired and motivated me, but none more than the individuals who put their lives at risk to save others," Dominic says. "Frontline workers of all kinds put their own needs aside and step in to protect humanity. Reading about and seeing them each day really motivated me to try my best to emulate their approach and bring that into an area of our design profession to help people."
Dominic contributed to the designs of the Pnuemask, a project initiated through the Prakash Lab at Stanford University Department of Bioengineering in response to COVID-19, and the Montana Mask, which originated at Billings Clinic. He helped the team at Pall quickly design a new filter for ventilators, worked with a friend and colleague to design and create a mask for children called Flo Mask, and helped a small team design and create Heartform, which helps people breathe easier while wearing a mask.
Dominic insists that people should be at the center of all we do, and especially as designers. "Without the perspective, empathy, and care for what people want, need, or do, it is hard to create something that has a lasting imprint," he says. "As designers, there are so many elements and aspects we need to take into account, but none more important than those we are creating alongside and for."
His other projects in 2020 ran the gamut of product designs, from an augmented reality speaker (Tout), security key (Google), privacy cases for mobile devices (PRVCY), and an at-home fitness system (Sk8Fit) to compostable markers for children (Tinker & Play) and a number of CAD-based projects for Restoration Hardware. He also taught an introduction to design visualization course for industrial design students at San Jose State University.
With all the twists and turns of 2020, Dominic has found that "staying grounded is important." Also: "Being prepared for anything that could come our way. Having a plan and being prepared for yourself, family, and loved ones. Continuing to help individuals, startups, small companies, and corporations build great design, both familiar and new. Spending more time outside, staying safe, and adding more healthy routines." And finally: "Letting the most important people in my life know how much I love them."