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 South District below.
George Chow, IDSA
Industrial Design Assistant Professor, University of Houston (Houston, TX)
Why did you become an industrial designer? When I was a junior in high school, I flipped through a career book in my guidance counselor's office and when I read the description of industrial design. I couldn't believe there was a job/career that was so cool and amazing! I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow, this job really exists?!’ In high school, I excelled at art and science, and after reading the job description of industrial design being a combination of art and engineering, I thought it would be the perfect path for me to pursue. 28 years after flipping through the career book, I still think it is the coolest and most amazing job ever!
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? I’ve learned a lot over the years working on many different projects and with many different people. I'm truly grateful for the opportunity and count it a great honor to have been a part of bringing helpful products to life. Now as an educator, I have the opportunity to invest in the lives of future designers and world changers. I never expected this path, but I am very grateful, honored, and blessed to be doing what I love and fulfilling a calling in my life!
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? Since my college days, I've been a part of IDSA. Some of my fondest memories were the studio tour field trips we would take in different cities. Throughout the years, I've enjoyed attending IDSA conferences and events—especially meeting and connecting with other like-minded people that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to talk with in person. They were also a chance to catch up with old design friends that I hadn't seen in a while. IDSA has provided many opportunities to learn about industrial design and participate in it, which I am very thankful for!
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? IDSA continuously supports industrial design, education, and communities through hosting events, providing networking opportunities, publications, advocating for ID, and sharing resources. Without IDSA, it would be much more challenging for the industrial design community and profession at large to grow and thrive in an organized way.
Why do you think industrial design is important? Industrial design can be like a double-edged sword. With it, we have the power to make the world better or worse. We can make it better by designing products and/or services that help people and our environment or we can make it worse by designing things that pollute our world with things we don't really need. As industrial designers, we have a great responsibility to help make the world a better place with our knowledge, gifts, talents, skills, and work.
Industrial design is a great power, but also a great responsibility. I'm thankful to IDSA for supporting and helping us to do the best we can as industrial designers.
Emily Sonnier, S/IDSA
ID Student, University of Houston (Cypress, TX)
Why are you becoming an industrial designer? I wanted to become an Industrial Designer because I felt that it was a great combination of engineering, art, and business. My two strongest skills were always physics and art; industrial design is a unique job that lets you use both.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? Personally, after learning the design process, it has made me appreciate all the hard work that goes into making the smallest things such as a toothbrush. It has also made me speak up more about design when many do not know what the career of industrial design is.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has allowed me to create a network within the design world that I never would have thought possible when I first came to university. Whether it is at the conferences or through our local chapters, IDSA helps me connect to other designers’ stories and makes our niche career path not seem so small.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? IDSA contributes to the ID community because it lets designers all across the US connect and share our experiences. For myself, who did not have any previous connections to ID before university, it has given me more confidence to move throughout the industry. At every event I have been to through IDSA, all the designers have been so welcoming and helpful, and I think that shows a lot about industrial designers in general.
Why do you think industrial design is important? Industrial Design is important because it bring character into the objects of the world. Through our designs we make the world a more interesting place by letting users gain a fun interaction with their everyday products. Industrial Designers are also very empathetic in the way we design to help people and I think, in today's world, empathy is key.
For me personally, my favorite aspect of IDSA is in the Women in Design segment. It is very helpful for me to talk and connect with other established women in the industry, especially because my program does not have a women ID professor. I feel it gives me role models to look up to as I begin my career as a female designer.
Warren Ginn, FIDSA
Principal, GinnDesign, LLC (Raleigh, NC)
Why did you become an industrial designer? I discovered Industrial Design after I began college at NC State as a physics major. I was getting burnt out on the high-level physics classes and took a design course for non-design majors and it changed my life. I thought, ‘These are my people.’ This was the profession that would allow me to blend my creativity and technical knowledge to solve problems that help people. Transferring from physics to design was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? Becoming an industrial designer completely changed my life. It is my profession, but it's a big part of who I am. As a professional consultant, it's allowed me to help companies create great products and experiences for their customers. As a design educator, it's allowed me to share what I have learned with the next generation of young designers and support them in the beginning of their journeys. Both have been equally satisfying and rewarding.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA is my family. I've known many of the folks in IDSA for over 25 years and I couldn't imagine my professional or personal life without them. Many of the professional positions I've held are the direct or indirect result of the network I've developed in IDSA. For me, IDSA has been an incredibly worthwhile investment.
Derek Tucker, IDSA
Industrial Design & User Experience Intern, Medtronic Diabetes (Hoover, AL)
Why did you become an industrial designer? Like many other designers, it was knowing what I didn’t want to do that brought me to design. Going through two years of chemical and mechanical engineering, I realized I needed more of a human element, and Industrial Design was the perfect blend of engineering-like problem solving and artistic creativity.
My goal as a designer is to ultimately help create a world better than when we started. So alongside with always trying to better the world, I hope to inspire creativity, curiosity, and the positivity design can have wherever it can be applied.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? Industrial design has been life changing. Ever since learning about the profession, I knew it would become a passion. Industrial design has taught me the importance of understanding people and how they interact with the world and products around them. This profession continually teaches me how to advocate for the users’ needs in order to better their lives and experiences, and that's such a powerful tool in creating meaningful change.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has supported my career path with providing the opportunity of the Student Merit Awards. The SMAs have been a great way to showcase students' designs and hard work, and meet other students from around the country. It's great to see the other perspectives and design work from all the other schools.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? IDSA has been a fantastic group to bring together those who share the same passions to build a network of leaders and further design knowledge. Even at the school level, it brought us together as a community so we could better each other, together. It's so important to have an inclusive and equal community where your passion can be shared and you continually learn to better yourself, and IDSA provides that support.
Why do you think industrial design is important? Industrial design is the key to giving users a voice. In our job it is important to always put the user first and learn their needs in order to design equitable and inclusive products.
Industrial design is also incredibly important because we, as designers, are at the front lines in making sustainable decisions for future products that will ultimately affect the global impact of the future. Designers have a lot of power and continually need to advocate for the right choices for a better world.
Jeff Feng, IDSA
Associate Professor, University of Houston (Houston, TX)
Why did you become an industrial designer? Industrial Design is one of few professions that challenges us every day with new problems, demands new knowledge, and calls for original innovations. I enjoy making beautiful products that happen to work better as well.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? As a designer for almost 30 years, Industrial Design has shaped my life through learning, practicing, and teaching.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has been one of the most influential institutions for me in the professional field. When I was in graduate school, IDSA was the place to apply for the IDEA. When I graduated from school, IDSA was the first place to look for a job. During practice, IDSA is the place again to be recognized through awards. When I started teaching, I went to the IDSA Education Symposium to share and exchange learning and knowledge.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? IDSA is such an important organization to ID professionals and students.
Why do you think industrial design is important? ID is unique through its practice process and methodology. Now its process and way of thinking have been widely adopted by other disciplines. With technology advancement at a hyper speed, it is a unique transformational time for ID to reflect and rethink the strategic position and revolutionary role for the ID profession in the major industry sectors. IDSA is on a much better track in terms of attracting more members in the profession as well as student bodies.
David Hill, IDSA
Founder/Principal, ThinkNext Design LLC (Cary, NC)
Why did you become an industrial designer? I harnessed a lifelong interest in art, drawing, building, and creatively solving design problems. I originally started college wanting to become an architect, but serendipitously discovered the industrial design profession. I transferred to a different university and changed my major to industrial design. The rest is history.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? Design thinking is an integral part of my career and life. Everything we see and experience is a design challenge or a missed opportunity. I choose to use my design capabilities in the broadest sense possible. I've taught junior designers to become better professionals, shaped highly recognized brands such as ThinkPad, and partnered with historically significant designers such as Paul Rand and Richard Sapper. Creating design is one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I honestly can't imagine being anything but a designer.
Why do you think industrial design is important? Design shapes the world around us and subsequently improves our lives.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? I became a member immediately after receiving an IDSA Student Merit Award and have been a full member for over 40 years. I've won numerous IDEAs at all levels and have given talks at IDSA conferences. IDSA has helped me to be a better designer and to be recognized as a worldwide design leader.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? I think the IDEAs are wonderful. They recognize the great contributions made by designers and increase the awareness of our profession to individuals and corporations who employ our services.
IDSA is an important organization that has broad power to evangelize the impact of design and design thinking. It helps bring to light what designers are capable of creating and how their work impacts our lives.
Elliott Martinez, IDSA
Hardware Design Lead, GRIND Basketball (Houston, TX)
Why did you become an industrial designer? In many ways, it's all I can do. Industrial design is a profession with a direct purpose to make the world better through creation. By nature, a designer must assume that things can always get better and we are professionally trained to intervene and take action.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? As a profession, it has allowed me to make a living while being myself. While not as lucrative as other professions, I'm able to express myself in positive ways while supporting my family.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? I'm currently the Vice Chair of a local chapter, and IDSA has allowed me to connect and stay connected to other professionals. Being part of IDSA gives immediate returns, in that as Vice Chair of my local chapter, I build events for designers to meet and, in turn, I meet everyone.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? I worked as an engineer for a handful of years and, as most professionals come to find, each professional field has a governing entity that supplies a standard for that field. IDSA is that entity for professional designers.
Thank you to all IDSA leaders, locally and regionally, as your work continues to solidify ID as a respected and required profession.
Russell Alan Flinchum, PhD, IDSA
Associate Professor, Dept. of Graphic and Industrial Design, College of Design, NC State University (Raleigh, NC)
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? I studied history of design during graduate school and took a PhD in 19th and 20th century art and design. The history of industrial design provided me with a career.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? I think IDSA is especially important as students transition to their professional careers.
Why do you think industrial design is important? It is the means of mediating between engineering and aesthetics.
Industrial design has developed in ways unanticipated by the founders of SID (Society of Industrial Designers). IDSA is critical to keeping industrial designers aware of changes in the field.
Bruce Claxton, FIDSA
Professional Designer & Consultant, Innovation Design Strategy (Coral Springs, FL)
Why did you become an industrial designer? I became an industrial designer to help make the world a better place. Like many designers, as a child I was asking why things were the way they were. I thought I wanted to be an architect until I found out about ID. As industrial designers, most of us can actually have a bigger influence on the world around us.
What impact (professionally or personally) has industrial design had on your life? Industrial design is a lifestyle and is embedded into my thoughts every day. I’m continually asking if every experience I have is useful, usable, and desirable.
How has IDSA supported your career path as an industrial designer? IDSA has been interwoven in my personal and professional development. It has provided a networking tool and professional guidance for more than 50 years. An untold number of conferences and workshops have enlightened me to world-class thinking and processes.
IDSA has provided a way to meet and access world leaders in design as well as to develop a myriad of friendships across the globe. This career is personally very rewarding, allowing me more than 60 patents and numerous IDEA, Red Dot and iF awards.
How does IDSA contribute to the ID field and community? IDSA has contributed to the industrial design field in ways beyond our imagination. As a past president, I was able to influence the origins of the Student Merit Awards (SMA) program that nurtures our next generation of designers. Another significant contribution by IDSA during my presidency was to expand the Industrial Design Excellence Awards to become the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). This was a direct result of networking with international design leaders expressing a desire to contribute to a wider vision of the program.
Why do you think industrial design is important? Industrial design is very important as we create the future cultural artifacts that make our world a better place to live. These artifacts create new categories of products and experiences as well as develop a more functional and beautiful environment to live in. Many of us are committed to improving life beyond the mundane and into the joy of new experiences. We are creating the future every day and it is a rare opportunity to live the adventure.