Spreading the Word

IDEA 2018 Juror Michael DiTullo Shares His Love of ID

Jan 30 2018 - 3:32pm


An IDEA 2018 juror and former IDEA winner who's marking 20 years as a professional designer, is spreading the word about industrial design. "What motivates me to inspire and teach the next generation is the debt I owe to the generation before me," says Michael DiTullo, founder and chief creative of Michael DiTullo LLC in Leucadia, CA. "I had so many wonderful mentors in my life—from teachers in high school who saw my potential—to instructors in college like Dan Zimerman (now designer, FCA) and Cliff Kräpfl (now VP design, TEAMS)—to many of my bosses like Aaron Szymanski (president, Evo Design) John Hoke (VP design, Nike) and Scott Patt (VP design, Cole Haan)."

DiTullo says he can't pay them back for everything they did for him, but he can (and does) pass on, what he learned from them. "When I’m working at the grade school level I’m just trying to broaden awareness. Most of these students may not become designers of course, but they might work with designers someday and they certainly will have the ability to support good design in their choices. If I can help just a couple to realize that they might want to be a designer, it's a total win."

Recently, DiTullo shared his love of design with a sixth-grade class at Del Mar Heights School—and a result—now tells us he'll continue working with the Del Mar School District. He'll also work with the Laurence School in Los Angeles on a special auto design class!

DiTullo revealed to the students he'd designed shoes for basketball legends Michael Jordan at Nike and Dwayne Wade at Converse; sports cars and custom off-road vehicles for Icon; and headphones and speakers for Sound United. He illustrated students’ ideas of a comfortable “retro future lounge chair.” As reported by the Del Mar Times, he shared that as a child, he told his parents all he wanted to do was "draw stuff from the future." Once, he was caught doodling by his math teacher, who suggested he look up the Rhode Island School of Design. And that's where he ended up earning a degree, then went on to Domus Academy in Milan to study industrial design.

DiTullo reaches out to older students as well. He's spoken at several IDSA District Design Conferences and served as a juror for IDSA Student Merit Awards. In 2017, DiTullo taught a term at the Domus School of Design program at NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego. "I took pride when one of the students pulled me aside at the end of class and told me I was the hardest teacher she ever had, and she learned the most. The instructors I remember the most were the ones who knew I could do more than I thought possible of myself," recalls DiTullo. "When I’m teaching at the college level, I’m pushing the students very hard. They have chosen to learn to be a designer and I’m doing my best to prepare them." His book, Analog Dreams, Sketches of Michael DiTullo, is used often as a primer in design schools around the world.

How does DiTullo deliver great design? He has to understand the needs of the user, the concerns of the industry and the influences of culture. And how will ID change in the future? "It has changed a lot in the last 20 years and it will change a lot in the next 20. Design has enjoyed an elevation in the past decade from a function that reported to engineering or marketing, to a full-fledged disciplinary that reports to the CEO, or maybe IS the CEO, of a company and has the ability to shape an organization’s future. We've worked very hard to return it to the status that IDSA Fellows Raymond Loewy and Eliot Noyes envisioned for us. It's up to us to prepare the next generation to carry that torch!"