Dedication to Design

IDSA Fellow Retires After Almost Four Decades in Design

Jul 18 2017 - 12:25pm

IDSA Fellow and IDSA International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) winner Lou Lenzi, FIDSA, is retiring after a 36–year career in industrial design. Until July 2016, he served as design director at GE Appliances—leading a team that was responsible for all industrial design, user interface design and user experience design activities for all GE and GE Monogram-branded major appliance products.

Lenzi held leadership positions at some of the biggest names in corporate design such as IBM, Thomson/RCA, Audiovox and GE Healthcare. “I'll miss the camaraderie, creativity, wit and intellect in each of the design teams of which I was a member,” says Lenzi, who also has won awards from the Consumer Electronics Association; and earned Design of the Decade from IDSA and Businessweek for the DirecTV on-screen user interface and program guide.

He adds, “While each corporation had its own unique culture , the commitment to design integrity and a relentless attention to detail was a constant. I also had the great good fortune to work with a number of incredibly creative and passionate design consultants, including Richard Sapper and Paul Rand at IBM; and Michael Graves and Philippe Starck at Thomson/RCA.”

He also thanks Beth Comstock, vice chair at GE, for being a “terrific supporter of design at GE who continues to advance a design-driven culture at GE.”

Lenzi also has lectured on design, innovation and its impact on business at academic, trade and professional society venues.  “Venture out of your comfort zone on occasion by taking on assignments that might not directly relate to your scope of work,” he advises future designers. “Try dedicating an extra 10 percent of your work week to activities that will expand your overall understanding of your business. Efforts such as these will not only make you a better designer, you'll accelerate the rate of growth of your business, and raise the value of design within the business.”

What’s ahead for Lenzi? “My goal is to pursue a few hobbies and personal interests—mostly centered on the typical designer's motivation to try and create something of beauty—only it will be on my time this time. I also hope to modestly find a way to share what I’ve learned over the course of my career—through writing, speaking, mentoring, or teaching in some capacity.”

Lenzi has done just that. He's working parttime in Indianapolis as Professor of Practice at Indiana University's School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC). Lenzi is on the faculty of the Department of Human-Centered Computing, aiming to redesign and relaunch the Media Arts & Sciences master's program by fall 2018. He's also writing a column for Appliance Design magazine. See his latest posts here.

Lenzi credits his wife of 37 years, Judy Lenzi, as being his “constant companion” on his journey. “She’s been providing encouragement and support, all the way back to those many all-nighters as a design student at the University of Cincinnati (UC),” he says. “Anything I've achieved in the course of my career is because of her.” Lenzi earned a BS in industrial design in 1980 from UC.

Lenzi's  successor at GE Appliances is Marc Hottenroth, IDSA, a 24-year veteran of GE Appliances, whose GE MicroKitchen won Gold in in IDSA's International Design Excellence Awards in 2015.