There is an article on Marc Newson in the magazine section of the January 29 New York Times. He is presently one of the world’s most visible designers. We have not talked much about individual designers, but you should find it an interesting read and we will talk more about designers later.
To date, the course ME 314 has been involved with several things. The students have read the first five chapters of my book and each student has submitted examples of products that show outstanding human fit, poor human fit, outstanding craftsmanship, and poor craftsmanship, along with a paragraph justifying each choice. Courseworks, the software used at Stanford and many other universities to allow internet communication and discussion between all parties, now shows some 400 examples and comments by the students and the teaching staff on these examples. This activity will continue through the remaining chapters of my book. I will mention some of the conclusions from this exercise in a future post.
The students have been divided into a number of small groups who will give presentations on the book chapter topics at the end of the term. These groups have been also asked to read the pertinent product examples from the students and react to them. The purpose of all of this is obviously to stimulate deeper thinking and more discussion about the topic of product quality
The course utilizes a number of speakers from outside of Stanford presenting work and thinking that is pertinent to the quest for high quality. David Beach, the person responsible for the course these days, is particularly interested in imagery not only as a component of good presentations, but also as an aide in evaluating the quality of products. Therefore the first two speakers were professional media people, one, Jonathan Edelmann speaking on creating stories, and another, Scott Doorley, discussing video. The next two were typical of the remainder of the speakers, in that they represented companies that they had founded that are particularly noteworthy as far as high quality is concerned. The first, Peter Dreissigacker, was co-founder of Concept II, a company that produces oars for competitive rowing and the favored ergometer among rowers. Their success depends on producing the best. The second, Steen Strand, was a co-founder of ICON Aircraft, developer of a an amphibious sport aircraft. A glance at the company URL’s gives a sense of what they are up to. Obviously quality is key to both of them. Competitive athletes buy the best, and low-quality airplanes are clearly not desirable. Concept II is here, and ICON Aircraft is here.