David Hill, IDSA, Begins a New Chapter

Jul 8 2017 - 12:00pm

A longtime IDSA member who's an IDSA International Design Excellence Award and Design of the Decade winner is, in his words, “rewiring.” David Hill, IDSA, stepped down on June 30, 2017 as vice president of design at Lenovo, after a 30-plus year career in industrial design. 

"I’ve never been a big fan of the term retiring," Hill writes on his Lenovo blog. "Somehow it conjures up images of rocking chairs, deeply shaded front porches, out of style clothing and wasting the day away. It’s not for me. I’m a designer through and through. Design is as much a life’s calling as it is a career. It’s actually one of my most significant hobbies. I love to make things, and to make things better. I can’t imagine life without design."

In addition to the thoughts on his blog that you can read in full here, Hill tells IDSA he plans to continue to design, or as a consultant, help others to design. Hill has some advice for other designers. "Never deviate from your core beliefs as a designer. Do good work. The core design principles I learned in school at the University of Kansas, or from my professional colleagues such as Paul Rand, and Richard Sapper, are still as valid as ever."

Hill has always tried to avoid trendy design, or fleeting ideas of the moment about what design is. "Design is a strategic problem solving activity that can help to make a business successful, and at its best, can create functional art that makes people happier and our world a better place," he explains. "Design is a profession that requires enormous creativity, unique human empathy, the ability to observe, synthesize and iterate/refine solutions. Above all, it demands a demanding desire to persevere over enormous obstacles. You can never give up!"

He adds that there comes a time in one’s career, however, to think about broadening the view. "I’ve been involved with the design of computers for over 30 years. I’ve designed everything from high performance computing systems sitting in raised floor environments to USB keys that fit in your pocket. I’m most noted for leading the design of ThinkPad for over 20 years, but I’ve also designed more computers and related devices than you can possibly imagine. That’s a lot of black paint!"

Hill says he will continue to work with Lenovo as a design consultant, helping designers and sharing his thoughts on strategic directions. His handpicked successor is Brian Leonard, executive director of think and strategic design at Lenovo "He is a highly competent design executive who I admire and trust. ThinkPad and its now iconic design will continue to flourish and grow within Lenovo," forecasts Hill. "Thanks to everyone who has been a part of my journey. It’s not about retiring, it’s about rewiring and what’s next."