Inspiration and Insight jury interview series: red dot award: design concept 2011
The red dot award: design concept 2011 is underway and pre-judging will begin in just over 2 months. In mid-May, a jury of 17 experts will have the important task of shortlisting the most creative, innovative yet feasible ideas and prototypes. Get an insight into the jury, what makes them tick and why they do what they do.
Gordon Bruce is the principal of Gordon Bruce Design LLC and has been a design consultant for 38 years working with many international corporations in Europe, Asia and the USA. He has worked with numerous multinational corporations on many different kinds of products of all scales – from airplanes to computers and medical equipment.
red dot: Tell us about your latest projects and activities.
Gordon Bruce: For the last two years, we have been involved with Buhler, a famous Swiss company that is considered a global leader with the highest standards of excellence in its field. As a pathway to achieving our objectives, we designed a few machines that enhance simplicity, usability, safety and design continuity, further nurturing good design as part of their business vision. Moreover, this renewed design vision serves as the foundation for a new design tool we are evolving – a process I call “design guiding” – which assists many different intangible aspects that are just as important as the tangible characteristics for improving a company’s design reputation, such as continuous internal design education helping all stakeholders to advance design more effectively as a business strategy.
Working with a Swiss company is a great experience as they have the highest standards and most rigorous views about design decisions, which, in turn, only improve our mutual results. Another great company that we worked with on a totally different level is GE Appliances in the US. This project was more about the redesign of their “system of design”. First, we created a unique design process to analyze the effectiveness of the company in order to gain better insights into specific attributes and problems before advising the company on how to improve its use of design on many levels. This is based on its specific realities – something I call a “company landscape”. Our recommendations helped GE Appliances make major design improvements rather quickly.
In addition, I have remained busy speaking about my book about Eliot Noyes – published by Phaidon Press, London. Recently I spoke at Harvard and to IBM and its global creative agencies, as they are still interested in the design DNA that Noyes created for the company more than 50 years ago.
red dot: What is the most exciting concept and idea that you have seen recently? You don’t have limit it to products.
Gordon Bruce: I have used four very different design ideas that I find most interesting and rewarding.
1. I have been using the Livescribe pen – the latest version is called the Echo pen – which is a digital pen that uses digital paper that easily converts handwriting to Word documents in parallel with voice recording. See www.livescribe.com, as this is one of the most helpful and convenient tools for designers.
2. The Freedom Chair, produced by Humanscale (see www.humanscale.com), which was designed by Niels Diffrient, continues to be the most intuitive, comfortable, easily adjustable and smartest chair ever manufactured.
3. I wear a well-designed coat called the “SeV Revolution” that has 26 pockets, which works extremely well for those who travel a lot with an abundance of electronic products. This new line of clothing is most inventive, integrating technology with clothing and in turn making travel more convenient and enjoyable. This jacket is also compatible with cell phones, iPods, and even has a pocket for an iPad. The company is at www.scottevest.com. Any designer who travels frequently with a lot of technology should take a look at this coat and their other clothing products.
4. www.Qwiki.com is a new site that is still being tested, but even at this point in development it shows a much more intelligent way to search the web. The content is presented automatically with voice and images sourced from Wikipedia pages. This is a clever and totally new way to interact with a computer. So smart!
red dot: Why did you decide to be a designer?
Gordon Bruce: I became a designer because of my father, John Bruce, who was an industrial designer originally educated as a painter in Canada who eventually returned to the University of Toronto to study mechanical engineering just before World War II. During the war, my father worked with the British Admiralty Technical Mission as an engineer and then eventually as an aeronautical engineer for Hawker Siddeley, a group of British aircraft manufacturers. After the war, he moved my family to the USA where my dad worked with Henry Dreyfuss, the famous American industrial designer – who was the first designer to merge design with ergonomics – before starting his own practice. As a child, I sat under my dad’s drafting table becoming lost in the world of my drawings of pirates and ships, but soon became interested in the computers and other products my dad was working on. My father designed the first fax machine in 1967 and his products won many design and technical awards, while some were shown at the Smithsonian in Washington DC and other museums.
red dot: What defines you as a designer?
Gordon Bruce: I strive for a description expressed by one of my key mentors, Eliot Noyes, who once described a designer best – “the consultant must himself be a significantly good architect or designer, and in addition to this, for such a role he must be some combination of designer, philosopher, historian, educator, lecturer and business man.”
red dot: What is inside your bag?
Gordon Bruce: When I carry a small bag with me I carry my Livescribe pen and matching journal, breath freshener, keys, a Canon Coolpix (extra batteries and memory cards), hand cleaner, cell phone (and charger), Post-it notes, small pad of graph paper, Faber-Castell pencil with built-in sharpener and eraser, Fisher Space Pen, clip-on sunglasses, a small At-A-Glance calendar / journal (I still believe in paper for some things), aspirin, a Nano with my Bose noise cancellation headset when size is not an issue (or my comfortable Philips earbuds designed by Kim Helmbold) and of course money and Kleenex. At present I am reading "Cleopatra" by Stacy Schiff (a most fascinating and extremely well-written book) and if there is room I bring it.
red dot: What is your favourite mode of transportation and why?
Gordon Bruce: My wife and I have owned 8 SAABs between us over the last 30 years for several reasons.
1. My father’s SAAB was hit by another car and after rolling 6 times through a gas station, he survived with only some minor injuries. Because his SAAB saved his life, I learned that safety in design is the first and most important issue.
2. SAAB is a small company but famous for the invention of many innovative products around important ideas. It has a mindset that stems from its origins as an aircraft company.
3. A SAAB is very well suited to the New England four-season environment in which we live.
Pico Art International is the official event manager and red dot traffic is a co-sponsor of the red dot award: design concept award ceremony.