Saturday, July 15, 2006


V12 sunglasses for Nike, communication badge for Vocera and cd player for MujiIDEO is the best-known product design company in the world. With clients that include AT&T, Cisco, Dell, Eli Lilly, Fisher-Price, Microsoft and Samsung, and offices in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, London, Munich and Shanghai, IDEO has helped create some of the most innovative consumer, consumer electronic, medical and office products.

Starting with David Kelley Designs (IDEO was formed in 1991 when David Kelly Designs merged with ID Two and Matrix Product Design), IDEO and their designers developed: the mouse for the Apple Lisa; the neat squeeze toothpaste tube for Proctor and Gamble, the Palm V for 3Com; the Leap office chair for Steelcase; the Treo for Handspring; and, the personal video recorder for Tivo.

They are also responsible for scores of lesser-known but equally cool commercially available products including: sunglasses for Nike; strollers for Evenflo; the communication badge for Vocera; a salad spinner for Zyliss; the Kart chair for Vecta; and, a wall-mounted CD player for Muji.

At the Palo Alto Arts Center, “IDEO Prototypes the Future” provides a glimpse into the creative process that has made IDEO famous. There are early mock-ups of the Palm V, client prototypes of the yet-to-be produced like the exciting Masher and DJammer for Hewlett-Packard, and IDEO-driven concepts like Crave Aid and their vision of connectivity in 2010.

Perhaps most fascinating are the multi-media installations that trace projects’ evolution. They have a case study on their work with Prada, and replaying on a large plasma screen is the 1999 Nightline Deep Dive on “how they do it.” For the program, an IDEO team designed a better shopping cart in 6 days.

“IDEO Prototypes the Future” is a small but excellent exhibit for those interested in design. It continues at the Palo Alto Arts Center until September 10.

Bonus link: download a gallery walkthrough with IDEO CEO Tim Brown
Bonus link 2: IDEO redesigns

Palo Alto Art Center: 1313 Newell Rd, Palo Alto, CA (650) 329-2366

Masher for HP, visions of 2010 and DJammer for HP