Each day during the week leading up to National ID Day 2022, we're publishing the comments of IDSA community members who reached out to us from each of IDSA's five North American Districts.
Learn more about a few IDSA members and friends from the Midwest District below.
Philip Stankard, IDSA
Lead Industrial Designer, 3M (Minneapolis, MN)
Why did you become an industrial designer? For me, growing up in a creative household (father was a glass artist, mom was a sculptor, siblings all pursued studio arts) the choice became pretty clear early on. Within our household, a creative career was encouraged and my parent's social circles made it really easy to imagine a future where a Creative career was in fact possible. Fast forward to attending Syracuse University, I was accepted into the School of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), within that first year I was exposed to a variety of commercial design disciplines and studio arts. Industrial Design was that perfect fit of craft, problem-solving, and human emphasis.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? It's such a cliché, but very true to me... Design is not only a profession, but it's a lifestyle. It's been enjoyable to not only work in Design but to also consume everything about it; the contemporary designers, the endless Instagram channels, the awe-inspiring project work that's published by the minute. It's one of those careers, where if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life! Always challenging and always rewarding!
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA's commitment to organizing annual conferences has been the biggest value to me. Be it a virtual or in-person venue, where you can build design relationships and debate design methodologies. Along with the annual conference, is the annual awards gala. Seeing best-in-class Industrial Design promoted helps establish our collective design quality, setting our sights higher each year.
Christina Prestidge-Kadrlik, IDSA
Sr. Industrial Designer, Milwaukee Tool (Brookfield, WI)
Why did you become an industrial designer? I honestly had no idea there was a profession like Industrial Design before college. I knew I liked art and design but was pretty lost on what I wanted to do after college. I met with a counselor my second week of college and when he asked me what I liked to do I said, 'Well, I like art/design, being hands on, and taking things apart?' He said Industrial Design sounded like a good path for me. Once I learned what it was, it was like all the lights came on and I finally found a path that made sense to me.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? Industrial Design, like other creative fields, is not something you can turn off once you ‘leave’ work. Industrial Design influences a lot of my life both professionally and personally. The career path gave me a sense of purpose because I am a problem solver. I am curious by nature so having a job where I can ask a lot of questions, take things apart and learn how to make things better for users is rewarding to me.
When it comes to my personal life, Industrial Design is a blessing and a curse. Whenever I make decisions I seek to understand the 'why' before looking for answers. I am ALWAYS looking at how I can make things better but also how I can be better. Can this be more efficient? Can this look better? Can I share this with anyone to make their lives easier? Then the downside is that I am highly critical of products I purchase for my home because I always find the areas of 'improvement' so it takes me a lot longer to decorate. I usually end up making some sort of adjustment to any furniture I buy, such as swapping out the hardware, or repainting metals to get the right shade of metallic I had envisioned.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has given me access to stories from other designers I would not have had access to otherwise. Whether it is our IDCs and hearing from big names in our field, or virtual events at the Chapter level. It is inspiring to hear other successful designers who share experiences and feelings similar to mine.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? IDSA's biggest impact is IDEA. Seeing all my fellow Industrial Designers get recognized for their hard work makes me so happy. I am talking EVERYTHING from life-saving medical equipment down to a really well executed electric coring drill. A large population still doesn't understand that behind every great design is most likely an Industrial Designer. Credit often goes to a Mechanical Designer. Which in part, yes, it was a team of people who made it happen but there was a designer who was carefully plotting surface highlights and form lines behind the scenes. This platform gives us more visibility and credibility to our peers outside of the field.
Why do you think industrial design is important? Industrial Design is important because a product or service needs to be considered from start to finish. Whether it is a well-executed user interface, user experience, or product, it is very clear when someone missed the mark on a part of that life cycle. The contrast is that good design is usually invisible, thus making lives easier and more streamlined.
Kyle Swen, IDSA
Chief Design Officer, M4 Factory (Woodstock, IL)
Why did you become an industrial designer? Industrial Design embodies art, science, and psychology, with the ability to create things that improve the human experience. The ID profession requires the use of all parts of your brain at the same time to solve problems and craft a narrative that people can understand or are drawn to emotionally or physically. Not many professions have the ability to have this kind of impact.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? Like many Industrial Designers, when you discover the profession—you know it's what you were meant to do. The variety of paths ID can take you down is endless. You are often a year or two ahead of what's currently out in the world and have access to so much knowledge, technology, and future thinking by leading visionaries. Industrial Design has given me so many opportunities in my career and continues to push me to evolve and grow even further.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? I have always been a believer in the IDSA organization. They bring a community of like-minded people together to share experiences, discuss hardships, and push for focus on important issues. The design awards are also such a great place to see a collective of some of the best current design in the world. I can recall how excited I was to 'sneak' into my first IDSA conference as a student. I was an intern at the time, and many of the designers I was working with were attending—I just didn't have the funds. They encouraged me to go anyway. I went and left so inspired and motivated. I joined the organization the following year and have been a member ever since.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? As a practicing designer, it's easy to be siloed in the day-to-day projects without much connection to what other designers are working on. IDSA provides an easy way to connect or follow what other designers are focused on. They also highlight community and bring important issues top of mind, such as Women in Design and Design for Sustainability.
Why do you think industrial design is important? I truly believe that we need creativity to address some of the bigger issues we are faced with in today's world. Industrial Designers are often thinking outside of the box—translating analytics and research into actionable results. Industrial Designers have the ability to tell stories and create narratives that get people excited and create momentum for change.
I have met so many great, talented, driven people throughout my career. I am so grateful that I have been given the opportunity to participate in this profession alongside many of the great trailblazers in the industry. It takes much effort, talent, and tenacity to stay relevant in this fast-paced, tech-driven world—but as designers, that's what we do.
Patricia Miller, A/IDSA
CEO + Visionary, M4 Factory (Woodstock, IL)
Why do you think industrial design is important? Industrial Design plays a pivotal role in identifying and solving needs—having the ability to play a critical role as we explore planetary and fundamental systems needing to be refreshed. Within M4, Industrial Design evokes the creative possibility for the factory and materials we use, challenging the constraints and posing the big ideas.
Nathan Aldredge, IDSA
Makerspace Coordinator, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (Chicago, IL)
Why did you become (or why are you becoming) an industrial designer? I grew up in Dallas Texas, I was a skateboarder, an artist, and loved Hip-Hop culture. I learned about designer (Vinyl) toys in high school and fell in love. This was my introduction to Industrial Design. I loved how it combined culture with new technology and mass-produced objects. This inspired me to learn about CAD design, 3D printing, laser cutting, root-molding, casting, and more.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? It has opened doors to several different industries that I never dreamed of working in. To name a few of these industries: Education, footwear, furniture, hospitality, consumer electronics, and prop design.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has connected me with industry professionals, mentors, friends, and support.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? IDSA is committed to training the next generation of creatives to help them change the world.
Why do you think industrial design is important? I believe Industrial Design allows people from different backgrounds to push innovation in all industries.
It is an amazing field to work in. I believe if everyone is able to take even one class in Industrial Design, it will teach them to think creatively about business, manufacturing, and consumer products.
Bryce G Rutter, PhD, IDSA
Founder & CEO, Metaphase Design Group Inc (Saint Louis, MO)
Why did you become an industrial designer? I love exploring how things work and I love the design of the human body—this intersection led me to design. I love that industrial design gives me an opportunity to bring higher quality products and user experiences to people. That has meaning to me. But aside from the deep meaning, it’s so darn fun! Why would you not want to be an industrial designer!
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? I've never done anything else but be an industrial designer, so it is not about the impact that design has had on my life…Design is my life. I love exploring new ideas, creating new designs that no one else has thought of, and each day collaborating with some of the smartest people on the planet. You can't find a cooler job!
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has been the common rail throughout my career that always connected me with the design profession. Its conferences, design awards, educational conferences, and publications have enriched my understanding of design and provided a rich networking opportunity. IDSA gave me one of the coolest opportunities I've ever had, as a Guest Editor for INNOVATION magazine on The Human Hand. It was a gas bringing together thought leaders to share insights into hand function and the design of high-touch products.
Alice Jandrisits, IDSA
Design Director, Liberty Hardware (Oakwood Hills, IL)
Why did you become an industrial designer? I grew up with a love of art, a curiosity about objects and products around me, and an interest in medical illustration. Like many similar stories that I've heard over time, I attended a presentation in college about Industrial Design as a profession—and I was hooked! I changed my major the next day and have never looked back.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? The ID profession has been incredibly rewarding and challenging, and I've been fortunate to work in several diverse industries (including medical devices, lighting, consumer electronics, kitchen & bath, etc.). During my career journey, I've worked as a staff Designer in several roles, as Design Manager, and as Director of Design. Working with and helping to direct and lead creative teams in developing innovative solutions has been truly amazing. Industrial Design is the best profession in the world, imho!
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? I've been an IDSA professional member for many years and have appreciated the ongoing learning and networking opportunities that have been available. ID has always felt like a tight-knit community to me, with some friendships and professional collaborations going back decades. The IDSA organization has always been a valuable go-to resource for me…and continues to be. I've also enjoyed giving back through IDSA by mentoring, connecting with students and professionals.
Stephen Melamed, FIDSA
Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Why did you become an industrial designer? Arriving late to the profession because prior I did not know it existed, it was a discovery of a career path that allowed me to blend my interests in the arts with science.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? Through the actualization of the profession, I have attempted to design my life, making each day an exploration with hopefully a positive outcome.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has provided me with a community of like-minded individuals who all seek to make the world a better place for everyone through physical products, digital interfaces, and effective services.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? IDSA creates a connected eco-system of engaged individuals who are seeking to improve their knowledge base, technical skills and methods for delivering improved outcomes for every aspect of living in our contemporary world and, through design, improve outcomes for all participants within our strained world.
Why do you think industrial design is important? Everything is designed. The profession provides a platform that attempts to assess situations, discover new opportunities, solve existing problems, and do so in a manner that is well thought out and positively engages all the senses.
Throughout the course of my career spanning almost five decades, I've witnessed the profession evolve.
• 1950 - Industrial Design (aka product design) deals with the form and function of machine-made goods.
• 2001 - Industrial Design deals with the form and function of machine-made goods, user experiences, digital interactions, commercial and social services.
• 2010 - Industrial Design deals with the form and function of machine-made goods, user experiences, digital interactions, commercial and social services; examined through an empathetic, equitable, human-centered lens.
Jung Joo Sohn, IDSA
Assistant Professor, Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Why did you become an industrial designer? My love for industrial design started from my early interest in reading comic books, fantasy novels, and watching animations. From reading comics, I was inspired by the illustration techniques and the products designed for the characters in those stories. I would read disaster comics and would be moved by the adversity the characters went through. Putting myself into the situation, I would imagine the possibilities of how I might be able to change storylines and overcome the difficulties. I believe industrial design can solve issues like the ones I read in those stories. That is why I became an industrial designer.
Why do you think industrial design is important? In the past, people longed to fly like birds and swim like fish. In order to achieve these feats, people developed technology. As people think about the future, they need to look more into developing technology that is thoughtful and considerate of the human user. I believe that industrial design can be a bridge to fulfill this goal in the future. My desire is to develop and champion the concept of industrial design as a way to predict and prepare for the future, rather than focusing only on the present.
These days, industry and society require converging talents for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Industries want their employees to be flexible, work in multidisciplinary teams, and collaborate with people from different backgrounds. Moreover, the world faces a new era with the pandemic which has changed how people interact with their work. It not only requires the transfer from office-based work to remote work, but also a new process and work culture which requires employees to have a diverse set of abilities. Based on these changes, I believe that industrial design education will also adjust for the cross-pollination between industry and academia.
Dan Neubauer, IDSA
Associate Teaching Professor, Iowa State University (Ames, IA)
Why did you become an industrial designer? I have always enjoyed creating and making. I started my studies as an engineer and found that it was not the right fit for me. Then I heard about Industrial Design and how it was exactly what I wanted to do and could do.
More recently, as I look back on where I am at now, teaching university, I think about how as a young child I wanted to be a 'mad scientist.' I can now run those crazy experiments and create new things while passing on my love of design and problem solving to my students.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? It has opened my eyes to appreciate the designed world around me. I get just as excited about a simple sewing needle and the design behind that as I do the complex, mono-bloc resin chair that is ubiquitous in this world.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? It facilitates a connection to the larger industrial design community.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has connected me to others who share my passion for design and design education.
Suresh Sethi, PhD, IDSA
Professor & Chair, Industrial Design, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
Why did you become an industrial designer? I think mine must be one of the most interesting as well as most pleasant jobs that anyone can dream of; in the first place because it is set among a community of creators and secondly because design is always about the future.
As a young boy every day on my way home I would visit a lending library and invariably come home with Superman comics. What fascinated me was not Superman but the visions of future these comics portrayed. Visions of the future are particularly important for designers because designers have to imagine both the future conditions that will exist when their designs actually come into use and how these conditions will be changed by the creation of new design. I have had the good fortune of making my childhood passion into my profession.
Design is about building connections. I have strived consistently to align the creative process with business, and the key to innovation lies in understanding consumer experience. The designer’s task is always to find simple, honest answers. Honesty, integrity, and love for life are key to delivering outstanding design work. As a designer, I do not just build the product, but I build relationships—good design comes through observing and understanding daily life and the environment.
Design is a discovery by an individual that is always for others. Empathy is very important in the act of designing. The Eames India report defines design as ‘Dignity, Service, and Love.’ And ‘love is the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes.’