Stephen Wilcox, PhD, FIDSA

Stephen Wilcox, PhD, FIDSA
Principal and Founder
Design Science

Stephen Wilcox, PhD, FIDSA, is a principal and the founder of Design Science (Philadelphia), a 40-person consultancy that specializes in optimizing the usability and safety of products. Wilcox is a member of IDSA’s Academy of Fellows and served for several years as chair of IDSA’s Human Factors Special Interest Section.

He has given hundreds of invited talks; published more than 70 articles in professional journals; and is editor-in-chief of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society journal, Ergonomics in Design. He co-authored Designing Usability into Medical Products with Michael Wiklund.

Shipp­ō: Did Industrial Design Begin in Japan?

Shippō, i.e., Japanese cloisonné, is an art form that consists of surface decoration achieved by a thin coating of colored glass on a metal substrate. The Japanese brought Shippō, their version of cloisonné, to an extremely high level of refinement in the late 19th century.

It was made assembly-line-fashion in factories. Thus, the “artists” associated with particular works (typically produced in relatively high volumes) were actually industrial designers—they provided the designs, but the products were made by others via an industrial process.

The sublime beauty of Shippō stands as a physical argument that ID should leave room for beautiful, aesthetically-driven design—even in this age of research-driven design conducted by interdisciplinary teams.

Stephen Wilcox, PhD, FIDSA, will briefly cover the history of Shippō and make the case that it was, arguably, the first example of industrial design.