Ford and IDSA Panel on Technology’s Role in Design Innovation

Ford recently sponsored an Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) panel discussion on the role of technology in design innovation. Featuring Freeman Thomas, Ford’s strategic director of design; Yves Béhar, CEO/founder of Fuseproject; and Jordan Brandt, Technology Futurist at Autodesk, the conversation was moderated by Nathan Shedroff, Chair of MBA Strategy and Design program at the California College of the Arts.

What’s interesting in the above video is the interaction of these three designers — who come from different backgrounds and work within different industries — trying to find common ground. Designing a seat for an office or living room is not the same as designing one that will be used in a moving vehicle, sit in the blazing sun for continuous 12-hour stretches, or have to contend with sub-zero temperatures.

The conversation, which starts around 8:00 into the video, delved into how technology is able to change the face of design, shaping consumer behaviors and their responses to innovative products. The discussion also explored the importance of brand message — through examples such as the ‘One Ford’ initiative — as well as sustainability’s role in the future of design, with Béhar highlighting the importance of transparency in the design of sustainable products and Thomas citing Henry Ford’s practice of recycling materials.

But the inherent problem is not convincing customers that sustainable products are appealing — designers are already creating products that have the aesthetic and material quality sought for by consumers of luxury goods — but in making these products conform to the numerous safety and legislative requirements that must be endured by the automotive industry.

[toggler title=”We know your time is valuable. Click here for a breakdown of the event so you can skip through”]12:00 — Sustainability in design
19:20 — Sustainability in the auto industry
24:00 — Seating and Ford’s ‘thin seat’ technology
27:26 — Computation changing the face of design; no preconceived notions
29:27 — The human impact on computation
31:35 — Combining ideas with stories; moving ideas forward
33:15 — Freeman’s auto industry insight
34:30 — Reduction, the 2CV example, 3D printing
37:50 — The designer’s responsibility, the Apple example
38:47 — The accountability of the automobile
40:30 — Quantitative computation and quality
41:30 — Let users create their own meaning
42:00 — Concept to production: the seminal Audi TT
44:00 — Freeman on the Porsche 356
45:50 — The aesthetics communicating the experience
46:40 — Designing for specific regions and communities
49:00 — Ford F-150: A Harley Davidson for suburban cowboys?
49:50 — Qualitative approaches that lead to lasting design advances
53:55 — Embedding technology into products to react to user needs
55:28 — The industrial Internet
58:45 — The designer as a processor
1:00:00 — Automated systems for products without designer input
1:01:20 — Government and regulation is slower than innovation
1:03:00 — Personalization: How do you create standards for non-standard materials?
1:04:00 — “Easier to create a rocket to go into space than create your own car”
1:05:45 — Biggest opportunity for designers today



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