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Research is the Hot Topic at Industrial Design Career Day

Posted April 30, 2012 in Classes & Presentations

On a quiet April spring-like day, a sizable group of students and faculty gathered at Kendall College of Art and Design to listen to a panel of industrial designers talk about their careers and give advice to the students as they begin theirs.

The three speakers agreed that their career paths have taken different and interesting twists and turns.

The panelists were Sudhakar Lahade from Steelcase, Grant Carmichael, who has his own consultancy called Thinkxd, and Munis Oomalia who works for Czamowski in Chicago.

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First and foremost, they all talked about the importance of research. “I’m not sure I totally understood this in school, “ said Grant, “but now I appreciate the research skills--interviewing, listening and collaboration-- that I have acquired.”

Sudhakar, who shared that he went to architecture school in India because he had been told, “You are the architect of your future,” said he moved to the world of industrial design because he really wanted to understand objects.

“I’m always searching to create not only an object of beauty but an object of business. The critical question is what do people want and don’t have and will pay for?” he said.

Sudhakar recommend a couple of books: Back of a Napkin and Design Thinking. I could see students scribbling down the titles in the intense atmosphere in Room 103 at Kendall.

But, back to the topic of research. It kept coming up during the hour-long presentation.

“There are tons of things that need to be re-invented,” said Sudhakar. He cited a favorite quote from Henry Ford. “If you asked people what they want, they’d say a faster horse.”

He also expressed the views of the panel succinctly when he said, “Your career is not about the destination. It’s about the journey. Have an open heart and be open to opportunities.”

Grant piggy backed on that idea, “Yes, and get out there and work with people. Keep stretching yourself... that’s where the opportunities happen.”

~by Susan J. Smith
~photography by Matthew Gubancsik  

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