GrabCAD had the chance to talk at length with Stephen Clambaneva, who has been organizing the IDSA NE conference in Hartford, Connecticut as well as the very popular Colour-Aided-Design Render Challenge. His primary occupation is working as an industry consultant for DASSAULT SYSTEMES for the consumer goods and retail industry. In a crowded restaurant around the corner from Times Square in New York City, we chatted for a hour about CAD, Colour, GrabCAD, PLM, DIY and the Future of Industrial Design.
We started off talking about Stephen's Greek heritage - GrabCAD has a lot of members from Greece, many whom participate in design challenges to get their work out there, make a little money or improve their skills. Stephen paraphrased a comment by William Taylor, writer of the book "Practically Radical". “People shouldn't waste a challenging time like the one we are in now.”. While times are bad for most economies in Europe and the US, there are opportunities to shake it up. The first design organizations that eventually formed the Industrial Design Society of America in 1965 began in the Great Depression of the 1930s, when Mass Production and Plastics gave Industrial Designers the ability to create new products for the consumer, but made them vulnerable to design theft. Working together, they had the opportunity to protect each other and ride out the bad times. Today, in a way, GrabCAD is somewhat similar (More on the IDSA can be found here)
This got us talking about the DIY movement and the opportunity for the professional Industrial Designer. Tools to prototype, perfect and even manufacture products independently have been a god-send. We agreed - design is not easy. Personal, or rather, the hobbyist approach to creating new products is not the future. But rather, it cuts out the middle man between the two. The tipping point is coming, however, when collaboration is made to be effortless. When I talked about the open-concept of the WeCross (Robert Nightingale's office) and how it appeared to be a 'physicalization' of GrabCAD, it got us conversing about the merits (and barriers) to good collaboration. Despite how easy it is to design a phone case, the electronics and the software are outside the average professional's domain of expertise. Finding that right person is the challenge - organizations like IDSA and community's like GrabCAD are the places created to overcome this.
After our respective lunches arrived, we moved on to the big topics: Colour, CAD, the Challenge and the Conference. The number and the quality of the submissions made Stephen very happy. The final results are to be presented at the conference - so I unfortunately couldn't pass along which were the favoured (we even blurred out the images of the final eight. No chance, GrabCADrs!). Suffice to say, the Jury had a hard time.
The Conference at which the final results will be announced has occupied Stephan's entire time. Colour has long been sidelined in it's use in ID and CAD. Of course, it matters, but Colour has always followed form and function. It's a natural fact - no one says "I want something black and I can make phone calls with it.". Stephen identified three topics for the conference: Trends in colour itself (particular types, like Pantone and WGSM), Colour and Culture (the use of colour in India may differ in the USA, for example) and Colour Coding, the Colour of Technology.
The final theme was of great interest to the both of us. The wordplay is a comment on the use of touch-screens on Industrial Design (Coding, Coating... get it?). Stephen told me that one of the questions being asked and debated is whether the ever decreasing costs of displays will make them able to be everywhere allowing the users to use the ability to display color and active color as you point out make color choice during product development obsolete. What happens next there for the Industrial Designer?
It allowed me to ask Stephen if we could pose the same question that wanted to give to IDSA attendees during the break-out sessions. "Is static colour going to become obsolete?" What do you think?