IDSA 2006 National Conference Day 2

IDSA 2006 National Conference Day 2

At the general session on the morning of day 2.

On Day 2, this year's IDSA National Conference and Educational Symposium got into full swing. The event that is hosted at the plush Hilton Hotel in downtown Austin, woke delegates up with coffee and breakfast and then the day, whose theme was "The Human Element" truly began.

To a packed auditorium, under grand chandeliers, Stephen Wilcox posed the question: "Why isn't just design intuition good enough?" His short answer was because of "human variation." To address this design needs to use research and scientific method. Social scientists and the like bring rigor to the process. Designers bring relevence. Wilcox suggested a combination of the two approaches for best results.

Bill Moggridge gave an entertaining presentation tackling the complexity of the design field today, including a video of a Japanese consumer buying a coke from a dispenser. Half an hour - and one call to customer services, and one lengthy online form to complete, and a cash deposit! - later, the exhausted consumer walks away with her coke.

Jamer Hunt expressed delight to be in the city named after the Six Million Dollar Man - Steve Austin. He talked about being post-human: "Right now we are re-making our bodies and our minds." Jamer backed up his argument with examples of different forms of prosthetic devices and echoed an observation that disabled people, by embracing enabling technologies, are at the leading edge of a new design trend.

There were many options for delegates after lunch and your reporter elected to attend the session "So, You Think Your Services Are Valuable, Do You?" This large conference session was also filled to overflowing with delegates eager to hear how to explain the tangible benefits of design to their colleagues or clients. "What metrics do you use?" was posed on more than one occasion by more than one speaker.

Philip Thompson of Whirlpool talked about "Performance Based Design Leardership". He began with advice that 'if it can't be measured it won't be appreciated' and warned of the consequences of designers not taking accountability for their actions: "We end up like a child, being told what to eat, what to wear..." His conclusion, that the whole idea was for designers to "show our value and get rewarded for it," must have rung true for most of the hard-working design professionals in the audience.

Marty Gage a principal at Lextant reminded the audience that styling is an accepted part of design. Clearly drawing from abundant experience, Marty summarised the roles of design "problem solving" and research "problem seeking." He decorated his talk with interesting observations: "Make the qualitative, quantitative." "If you use graphs they believe it." "If you want them to really believe it, laminate the graphs."

"You're asking for a raise. Your boss asks how does your work impact on the bottom line. You respond by saying..." Was the question posed to start off the panel discussion. One helpful reply came from the audience: "We have gone from 6-Sigma to using NPS" which this reporter understands to refer to Net Promoter Scores.

With student designers having their portfolios assessed in one hall, parralel sessions on design practice and design education were in full swing addressing issues such as that 500 pound gorilla in everyone"s living room: China. The industrial design world is abuzz with talk about China. It's a massive market. It's where all the manufacturing is going.

It's where to go to find work. And now, it's where they are establishing 400 industrial designs schools. In a session entitled, "Finding Design Niches: Models for positioning US and Chinese design education," Lorraine Justice of Hong Kong Polytechnic University valiantly tried to make some sense of these dizzying developments for us all. "China, right now has 243 ID programs" she informed us while showing a selection of examples of student work from mainland China. "They're not far behind." We all had to agree. The student design work Lorraine showed us was interesting and of a high standard. Good ID models, well photographed and rendered.

"Even though China is gearing up for those 400 design school, that doesn't mean the death of industrial design in the US" Lorraine assured us. "What will save the USA is graduate education and design research" to better pose the kind of questions that lead to innovation. Lorraine argued that it took years to develop a tradition of design research and therefore the US and other countries had a head start on China. In light of the rapid improvement of undergraduate ID education in China, some of the audience seemed less confident.

Alex Velasco

Delegates enjoy breakfast and coffee on day 2.

Delegates enjoy breakfast and coffee on day 2.

Howard Mullin of Control Plastics shows samples of injection molded products produced at his facility.

Mark Schuchardt demonstrates a production sample of a lightweight foldable snow shovel for mountain rescuers developed together with his company, Du Pont Engineering Polymers.

Companies, like Wacom and Autodesk demonstrate their wares to delegates.

Charles Harrison, who received a IDSA lifetime distinguished service award on the opening day of the conference, signs autographs copies of his recently released book. A Life's Design: The life and Work of Industrial Designer, 2005, Ibis Design Incorporated.

The tension rises as the early rounds of the IBM-sponsored Ultimate Derby get under way.

Delegates in deep discussion at one of the parallel sessions.

Students and recent graduates get an opportunity to show their work and get helpful feedback at the portfolio review.

Students and recent graduates get an opportunity to show their work and get helpful feedback at the portfolio review.

Students and recent graduates get an opportunity to show their work and get helpful feedback at the portfolio review.

Test driving Dell's latest high speed gaming computers.

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