PD+I 2015 will take place at the America Square Conference Centre, in Tower Hill, London.
View a selection of the photos and videos from PD+I.
Spotlight on…Dan Harden
Dan Harden is President, CEO, Principal Designer and cofounder of Whipsaw Inc., a highly acclaimed design firm in Silicon Valley, California which designs products and experiences for companies around the world including Google, Cisco, GE, Haier, Intel, Leitz, Merck, Motorola, Nike, Olympus, Samsung and TP-Link, plus many exciting startups like Dropcam, Highfive, Livescribe, Nod Labs and Yubo. Dan is a hands-on designer and directs the strategic and conceptual direction of most client accounts. Fast Company magazine selected Dan as one of “The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2014”, calling him “design’s secret weapon,” also ranking Whipsaw among the top five design firms in the world. Dan's views and work have also been featured in Abitare, Axis, Business Week, CNN, Domus, Form, Fortune, Metropolis, Newsweek, Time, Wired, and several design books. Dan has won more than 225 design awards and has been granted over 250 design and utility patents.
You’re speaking at PD+I 2015, what made you decide to get involved?
There are many conference choices nowadays but this one focuses on my true passion, Industrial Design. PD+I also attracts notable speakers and offers good opportunities to network.
What are you currently working on?
We have about fifty very diverse projects ongoing that range from consumer electronics to medical goods to scientific equipment. Recently there has been a big focus on I.O.T. and wearable products for start-ups and “big future” things like robots and transportation.
Why did you become a designer?
It felt natural. I love art, machines, and people – an essential mix of interests for a designer to have. I also found that design was the best way for me to influence the world. When you witness individual end users inspired by one of your creations, being gratified by its utility, appearance or performance, or if they just possess a pride of ownership, you’ve made a difference. When you see this positive affect multiplied by millions of users, one realizes what a profound influence good mass produced design can have on the world.
Is there a designer or company you particularly admire and why?
I admire any creator - whether designer, architect, artist, or scientist that tries new ways to innovate, new ways of expressing meaning and emotion in their creations, and new ways of communicating with end users through their solutions. For example I’m inspired by abstract expressionist painters like Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline; architects like Zaha Hadid and Thom Mayne; designers like Mario Bellini, Dieter Rams and Antonio Citterio; and the curious physicist Richard Feynman. As far as companies, I love Porsche, Ferrari, and Boeing for staying true to their vision for as long as they have.
Should you meet your heroes?
Yes, but anticipate their fallibilities that come with being human. If your heroes are creative types you can expect extra doses of imperfection but that’s often what makes them interesting. I’ve had the good fortune to work with some of my heroes such as George Nelson, Hartmut Esslinger, and Steve Jobs. Each was brilliant but a pain in the ass to work with - and I cherish those experiences.
What product or design you wish you’d worked on and why?
When I use a great design, for example the product I’m speaking to you on right now – the iPhone, I’m more inclined to send a mental “job well done” and “thanks” to the designers who worked on it instead of wishing I had worked on it. There are just so many design problems out there yet to be solved, wish for those.
What is the greatest challenge you face as a designer?
As a design consultant hired to solve problems for companies in mostly capitalist societies, a long-standing career challenge has been to get clients to do the right thing beyond making money. Companies often resist producing higher quality if it cost a penny more, decline responsible or sustainable solutions because it may not be conventional, don’t take the time to develop something right, and hesitate to take a risk on unproven innovation. A designer needs to convince clients to do the right thing with their unique analytical and problem solving skills, but also know when a compromise isn’t going to kill the design.
Obsolescence is also every industrial designer’s challenge. You pour your heart into designing the ultimate widget and it becomes obsolete after a few years due to changing technology or market trends. I try to mitigate this by creating as timeless a design as possible but also by doing what nature does - create Brand DNA that propagates in all future product offspring.
Can you describe Whipsaw in 10 words or less?
A two-handle whipsaw epitomizes balance and cuts like hell.
Dan harden will be giving his presentation entitled 'Rule-busting principles to innovate and flourish' at PD+I on Wednesday 20th May 2015.
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