Ravi Sawhney, FIDSA

Ravi Sawhney, FIDSA | RKS Design

Inducted into the Academy of Fellows: 2009

Born in Canada and raised in Southern California, Sawhney’s contributions to the industrial design profession range from numerous to legendary. After graduating college, he was hired by Xerox’s Advanced Development Group where he was the sole industrial designer working with a team of 20 cognitive and social scientists to develop the first touch-screen interface years before computers entered the mainstream. There he created an information hierarchy (including consistent placement of status bar, return icons and help menus) that is still seen in our computers today. 

Since founding RKS nearly 30 years ago, Sawhney has received every major design award in the industry, sometimes tenfold, for a top-tier client list. In the process, RKS has helped generate more than 150 patents on behalf of their clients. In 2004, he was named chair of the Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) program. Becoming aware of the need for design to break into the boardroom, Sawhney created the IDSA/BusinessWeek Catalyst award for products that generate measurable business results. In 2008, he was named executive director of Catalyst to direct its evolution into a program that develops case studies illustrating design’s power to effect positive change. Most recently, Sawhney has become an expert design blogger sharing his insights on Harvard Business Review, FastCompany.com, and in September 2009, he was inducted into IDSA’s Academy of Fellows.

Sawhney invented the popular Psycho-Aesthetics® design strategy, which Harvard adopted as a Business School Case Study and is the subject of Predictable Magic, a book co-written with Deepa Prahalad and published by Wharton School Publishing. For this unique process that can quantify sources of emotional demand in the market, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He is a regularly featured lecturer at Harvard’s Business School, USC’s Marshall School of Business and UCLA’s Anderson School of Business, where he teaches this powerful business-driven design tool to top business school students. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge.