The Most Influential Industrial Designers

Forbes.com
Tastemakers Series: Industrial Designers
By Tiffany Meyers, January 2005 

We live in a world of stuff. It accumulates in our homes, garages and offices. We tuck it into nightstands and glove compartments. Occasionally we throw it out, but, inevitably, we go out and buy more stuff. In fact, we’re buying more stuff every year. In 2004, Americans spent $987.8 billion on durable goods such as motor vehicles, furniture and household equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

But even in this cycle of gather, dispose, repeat, there are objects that stand out. From the new BMW 7-Series to candy-colored iMacs, these are the products whose ingenuity captures our imaginations and whose lines catch our eye. These are the chairs that straighten our slouches, the containers that prevent us from spilling on our laps, the handy tools that are triumphs of form and function. They are the vehicles that transport us along roads–and even through the stratosphere–in comfort and style. “Good industrial design identifies unmet needs,” says Alistair Hamilton, vice president of customer experience and design for Symbol Technologies in Holtsville, N.Y., “and then fulfills those needs.”

Industrial designers must draw from a range of competencies–including ethnography, engineering, ergonomics, manufacturing and marketing, among others–to create everything from spaceships to sippy cups, interiors to interfaces.

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Gen Y + Boomers: 2 Sides of Same Coin?

How Magazine
Generationally Speaking

By Tiffany Meyers

In many ways, an assessment of Boomers and their babies/grandkids (or the millions of young Americans known as Generation Y) is an apples-to-oranges prospect. The two groups have come of age in vastly different eras of U.S. history, consuming and creating different cultural touch points.

To compare the two generations, you’d have to compare the space race to MySpace, Earth Day to Green Day, the Mod Squad to the iPod, and so on all the way up to Watergate vs. Monicagate. Perched on (almost) opposite ends of the demographic spectrum, each group brings a unique set of needs to the marketplace as consumers.

All of this makes the traits they do share particularly notable. For one, these groups both live with a rather unflattering reputation for suffering from self-entitlement issues. Also from the Department of Blanket Statements, they’re said to view the future of the world through rose-colored glasses-particularly in comparison to the purportedly nihilistic Generation X that sits between them.

And of course, they’re two highly sought-after consumer sectors.As the two largest generational segments in the U.S., Boomers and members of Generation Y exert tremendous influence over the nation’s social, cultural and political landscape. Wielding formidable power and influence in economic terms as well, they’ve emerged as two of the sweetest spots for marketers pitching all manner of products and services.

The first thing to know about Generation Y is that it possesses more monikers than a demographer’s spreadsheet. In its roughly 30 years of existence, this group has been called Millennials, Reagan Babies, Generation Next, Echo Boomers and iGeneration, to name a few.

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Marketplace Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

Author’s Note: Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual “Hot Trends” roundup of marketplace opportunities for entrepreneurs, including the two sectors I covered.

Green
Decades in the making, this $209 billion market has its roots in everything from water to energy to food. Look especially to organics, clean energy, alternative fuels, and water reuse and reclamation services.

Boomers
Representing the biggest wealth transfer in history, these individualists started the green movement and are ready to cash in on the environment, health, financial planning, travel and everything in between.

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