Design as a Change Agent

#IDSADetroit16 Panel Episode Aired Sept. 15

Jan 26 2017 - 2:45pm

An interactive panel on Design as a Change Agent that was recorded Aug. 20 at the IDSA International Conference 2016 (#IDSADetroit16) aired Sept. 15. Watch the "Autoline This Week" episode.

"Design can inspire, motivate and improve people’s lives. It can turn mundane objects into cultural icons, transform blighted areas into must-see destinations and enlighten and inform at the same time it entertains," says John McElroy, moderator of the panel and the host of the "Autoline Daily" webcast and the "Autoline This Week" television show.

The conference, themed Making Things Happen, was chaired by Sooshin Choi, IDSA, provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The panel was organized by Jeevak Badve, IDSA—chair of IDSA's International Conference 2017 which will be held from Aug. 16 to 19 in Atlanta.

"It was an amazing hour of wonderful insights and observations on not just durable object design, but on 'design' itself and how it's capable of and actually making positive things happen on a societal and economic level," says Badve. "This engaging conversation brought in the high points of how we still need to keep an eye on the past while anticipating the future needs of the rejuvenation of any city, including Detroit."

Across product boundaries, categories, economies—design has been affecting everything and everyone for the last 200 years of industrialization and apparently way before that. It weaves through products and services, experiences and spaces, society and culture. McElroy moderated the panel at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center that featured:

  • Amko Leenarts, global director of interior design at Ford/Lincoln;
  • Kevin Kerrigan, senior advisor, Automotive Initiatives, State of Michigan and senior vice president, Automotive Office, Michigan Economic Development Corporation; and
  • Marc Greuther, chief curator and curator of industry and design at The Henry Ford and an IDSA International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) 2016 juror.

Panelists brought a rich and varied background of making to discuss and ponder—not just the industrial design mechanics—but the overarching positioning of design as it affects the world of products, mobility, interiors, spaces, architecture and everything in between. Then, conference attendees participated in a challenging question-and-answer session with the experts.

McElroy also hosts WWJ Newsradio 950 broadcasts and writes for and Ward’s AutoWorld. He previously worked for Road & Track, World Cars and Automotive Industries. McElroy has appeared as an automotive expert on ABC, CBS and NBC and been interviewed by CNN, NPR and CBC. He served as a member of the jury for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. Among his honors, McElroy earned the Jesse H. Neal Award; “Communicator of the Year” by the Sales and Marketing Executives of Detroit; and International Wheels Award.