Thursday, May 29, 2008

David Kelley: The future of design is human-centered

David Kelley is a designer -- of products, details, environments, his own industry-leading workplace, and now a groundbreaking design school at Stanford.

Kelley was working (unhappily) as an electrical engineer when he heard about Stanford's cross-disciplinary Joint Program in Design, which merged engineering and art. What he learned there -- debate, openness to new approaches, a desire to solve fundamental problems with design -- he has maintained in his professional life as a designer.

In 1978, he co-founded a design firm that ultimately became IDEO, now renowned worldwide for its innovative, user-centered approach to design. IDEO works with a range of clients -- from fast food conglomerates to high tech startups, hospitals to universities -- building everything from a life-saving portable defibrillator to the defining details at the groundbreaking Prada shop in Manhattan (IDEO designed those famous see-through dressing rooms). Based in Palo Alto, Calif., IDEO has grown to seven offices and 400+ employees worldwide.

Now chairman of IDEO, Kelley has also been teaching design at Stanford for more than 25 years. He's now leading the university's brand-new -- an interdisciplinary institute for educating innovative designers and thinkers.

"Kelley has become a poster child for innovation in America for two reasons: His engineering firm serves as the brains behind many of today's most innovative products, and IDEO (Greek for idea) has been a trendsetter in modern-day corporate management."
Virtual Advisor (

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