Steven Madsen

Steven Madsen, IDSA | Ion Design

IDSA Western District Student Merit Winner: 2010

After enrolling at Brigham Young University (BYU), Steven Madsen test drove a few professions before arriving at his final destination. “I studied psychology, economics and advertising,” he said. “I liked some part of all of those fields, but none of them were quite right for me.” A casual conversation with BYU industrial design student Jon Wing delivered him to industrial design. “I enjoy the business side of design, so it made sense to choose it after acquiring a broad business background,” Madsen said.

Of the four projects he presented at the Western District Conference, Madsen drilled pretty deeply into one concept that merged elements from the various disciplines he experimented with during undergrad. The Sustainable Treadmill came about after Madsen’s class was asked to address sustainability issues for exercise equipment. He began contemplating treadmills and wanted to design a product that would work for two users: the people who produce the treadmill and the people who run on it. Starting with the latter, Madsen identified a need that was being awkwardly served.

 Single college-educated women indicated that they reluctantly pay for gym memberships in order to use the gym’s treadmills. Why not just buy their own treadmill? “A lot of these women were renters and they didn’t want to lug a big thing around or have it clogging up their apartments,” Madsen said. Further research revealed that only five companies in the US rented such large exercise equipment. To one degree or another, each faced the same challenges: treadmills were not designed to be mobile and the price points they offered weren’t competitive with full gyms. Madsen designed a business model to address both problems.

“I used a dolly design made of recycled plastics to accomplish mobility,” he said. “It also folds in order to conserve floor space in the user’s apartment. At the end of the treadmill’s lifecycle, the company can reuse or recycle nearly all of the treadmill’s pieces. And we ended up bringing the rental fee down to the cost of an average gym membership.”

While the Sustainable Treadmill remains a concept, Madsen would like to bring it to market after further tweaking the business model—which is no surprise for this industrial design grad who also completed a minor in business management. “I like to incorporate the product design with the business plan,” he said.

While at BYU, he interned at Aspen Medical Products in California, 4sight Inc. in New York and Ethicon Endo-Surgery in Ohio. He recently accepted a position with Ion Design as a designer who may build a career based on some of his experiences working on the treadmill. “I’m leaning toward medical product design because it is problem-based and functionality is really important.”

Steven Madsen can be reached via