Discussion about the IDSA


These posts were split from the IDSA NE conference discussion because the Moderators felt the discussion took a turn to talk about the IDSA in more of a general way. We hope this continues in a constructive way.



So, I’m going to play cynic. Some fantastic people are always involved with IDSA and every years it seems like we get a new 5 year plan… with never a move to year 2. I don’t see it guys. It still seems stuffy and dated.

I made a deal with Frank Tyneski. Since I was panning IDSA so much on core77, and he was very earnestly trying to do some of the things you all are talking about, we made a deal that I would join IDSA for one year, and be available to help in anyways I could, AND refrain from bashing it publicly, and if I didn’t see signifiant positive change in one year by my own judgment, I would leave IDSA and say what I wanted… he left before the year was even up.

From what I can see, not a lot has happened, and I’m kind of done with waiting when so much continues to happen by resourceful individuals, this site being only a small fraction of what is going on. IDSketching, Design Hub, Dexinger.com and many other have filled the void that IDSA left. They are now the voice of the profession, which means we are now the voice of the profession. Individuals seem like we can advocate far more effectively than a slow moving professional organization.

Right now IDSA is a $300 subscription to a bad magazine. There has to be a lot more to it than that, and not a website. The only thing I look forward to at the conferences are meeting people at the parties, and talking to students.

So, the gauntlet is off guys. I’d love for you to prove me wrong, I would LOVE it, but you will have to excuse me if I do not hold my breath.

Most designers I know are great at finding flaws and kind of enjoy complaining so this was bound to happen; the idea of IDSA was bound to evolve and be improved by its members. As I see it most of the purposes the organization originally filled are now being better met in other ways. There was a time when the IDSA was the only real way to meet and engage with designers of different levels of experience and backgrounds and now there are much easier, more dynamic and more affordable methods.

I cancelled my membership after 20+ years because I found myself going to the conferences to see friends but skipping all of the lectures. For me it seemed like the same group of people talking about the same thing over and over again and then giving each other awards over and over again. None of it had much to do with the type of work we do at my firm every day. And, at times it seemed to be so far astray that I felt it was an altogether different profession. At various times I thought “why isn’t anyone talking about designing and engineering products?” Are those mimes? Is that a Fight Club renactment? Is that a pinewood derby?

But a lot of members seemed to really love it so I concluded that it must be that this is just not the right organization for me. I think that if the IDSA concentrated on maximizing the value they provide to that smaller segment of designers they might find more satisfaction in be smaller in size but more potent.

How is it that IDSA has now just seen these discussions? There have been so many previous threads in the past, and they always end in heated debate. Core77 is arguably the largest, most popular Industrial Design resource in the world. How can IDSA miss that? C77 is under the hot spotlight.

On a level of professionalism, in a field that is so influenced by cutting edge news, culture, materials, technology, and thoughts, how is it possible that the IDSA website is still under construction? Websites under construction were a thing of the 1990’s. That just shouldn’t exist anymore. Hire some kid and have them design and launch the new website we’ve been hearing about since 2006.

IDSA has pigeon-holed themselves as a one trick pony. There are conferences, national and regional. Beyond that, we’re not seeing any progress or other benefits that shine through.

Frankly, I’d love to see IDSA rise out of the ashes like the phoenix. But we still wait while the IDSA website, events, and company infrastructure are perpetually under construction.


So I got these emails Friday. To be clear I have no idea if this person has anything to do with IDSA but I thought I would throw these up hear.

Why dont you step up get in the game and improve it change it or shape it instead of sitting back on the couch and bitching about it. Volunteer and act on what you say you want , instead of wasting time! Do you know how to put on a conference? Do you know that all those folks at idsa are volunteers putting these events on as gratis service to make this event as good as it can be for members ? Why dont you redirect that energy and make the event more powerful by shaping it from the inside …

[My response] Wow!! Did that email make you feel better? How do you know that I have not been in tough with the guys from IDSA? Thanks for the advice. I have been in contact with some of the guys from IDSA after posting this. I do not have time to volunteer for IDSA. I wish I did, but it is not possible. I do plan however to give more feedback. Thanks for the note.

It was intended as a constructive call for action. I do tire from too many people who do nothing but bitch. I replied to your note because I only respect the people who are goping to contribute or comment , but have the balls to sign their real name to their email.
As I have no idea of your participation or contribution , I think it also possible that you do not know what an incredible undertaking it is to organize plan and put these things on , pro bono. It is like taking on a completeyl new second job with all the BS and no Pay.

Good to hear you in touch and connected.

PS No it did not make me feel better. It was not intedned as getting my point across. But to explain that IDSA as most are

[My Response]Like I mentioned before I do not have the time to contribute nor do I feel that every Industrial Designer should. I have given my feedback to IDSA many times and as you saw in the forum that my opinion is the same as many other very talented and well established designers.

As far as me knowing how much work it is to put these kinds of events together, I do actually. I have helped in the planning of professional events before. Have I planned one for IDSA, no, but for you to assume that I don’t understand, or respect them for this is just false. I also understand doing volunteer work and the amount of time that takes, but it is just that volunteer and I would have to say that they new what they were getting into when they took the job.

The bottom line is that IDSA needs to show value and stop telling us that we need to fix the problems. If they showed value and what the organization could do for us then maybe more would step to the plate and help out.

I am done with this email chain as having an email argument with someone I don’t know or knows nothing about me I see pointless. If you would like to join the forums and contribute that way that is fine.

Justin Coble

Sorry I ruffled your feathers, I just want to know what you value and what you want out of the org in order for it to improve? What is you want the org to deliver? That what I am looking for.I hear everyone say they want IDSA to do more for us but I never hear what they actually want the org to deliver, specifically.

PS I am an industrial designer in the field for 15 years and a design educator.

Well Mr Caruso I don’t know if you read these forums (oviously you do from the first message) but if you want to know what we want I think it is being voiced here.

I’ve also volunteered in various capacities… in addition to volunteering, you also get the pleasure of paying. I’ve also donated at a pretty high level. In the end, it seemed like my time and money were better spent in places that I feel more directly helped my profession and other designers. The point of the organization is to help the profession… not the other way around!


I was an ex-idsa member(and still am) when I heard Frank speak to a group of us back in Dec-2008 just as he was taking the reigns. The ideas and plans he had sounded really good, and actually got me interested in idsa again. And then… nothing. I wonder what happened. I often hear officers blame the lack involvement from members. Could this “you get what you put in” model be antiquated? Maybe the available means and opportunities to be involved are no longer in-line with what members are willing/able/desiring, so that the community has moved on to other networks. :blush:

With that said, I still receive the designbytes email news letter which usually has good content I’m interested in that I may or may not have already come across.

Basically you are paying for the privilege of volunteering?

Here in Boston we had 2 super involved co-chairs. They pulled off a great NE conference last year with a lot of effort, and by enlisting a lot of help… they both let their memberships lapse this year. I did the same thing after putting in a tone of effort into the CT chapter.

However I continue to volunteer here and the payback is great. A few years ago I helped to produce and coordinate a Core77 design offsite in Portland. We went to capacity (350 people) for a one night, free event. Had some awesome speakers, an open bar, DJ, done. People freaked out, they loved it so much… could it be that it is just not that complicated?

Everyone loves music and free booze, right? It really shouldn’t be more complicated than that.

Yo: How was it funded? Just curious.

The entire night cost maybe 4g’s and core77/coroflot paid for it out of the money they get from the services they provide and advertising. Very simple.

Wow! I didn’t the cost was so low. Core: Want to sponsor something in Montreal? hehe

The entire night cost maybe 4g’s and core77/coroflot paid for it out of the money they get from the services they provide and advertising. Very simple.


IDSA has plenty of $4ks laying around with all the membership costs, conference costs, etc. I frankly don’t see where one penny could possibly be going in IDSA. Where is all the money going? My only educated guess is that the money is going to the director/president/board/whomever’s pockets- but it is not going where it should be.

Throw some FREE parties/events. Do something FOR the designers who support you. The work of many shouldn’t profit the IDSA and its board.

Nice work Core77, as usual. If there were a membership cost, I’d gladly pay it. I would expect more at that point, and I’m sure Core/Coro would deliver.

It was a good night: we had it at 6pm on a Wednesday… by 5:30 people were lined up around the block. The guys from UNKL ( http://www.unklbrand.com/ )gave a lecture on their process and they even made a little custom piece of art for EVERYONE that came. Also a bunch of stickers, and we raffled some product. Longtime friend, Mr Strack DJ’d for free. Chris from Someday Lounge donated the space (in exchange for open bar costs) http://www.somedaylounge.com/ AND their were even sketches and redlined blueprints, and photos of prototypes up on screen… 3 things you don’t see at many IDSA conference lectures.



Hi everyone,

I am Claire from Pensa, & part of the volunteer team that is planning NED. I’d like to thank you all for your comments, & want you to know that our committee is putting a lot of time and effort into making it as ass-kicking as possible. Working through the logistics of managing such a large team of volunteers both in & out of IDSA is time-consuming & complicated, and the conference website is being updated by IDSA daily (the full speaker list is now up!). We’re working on finalizing the nitty-gritty details of the schedule, so that will be posted in the next couple of days as well.

In the meantime, please join our social networking pages to stay in the loop & become a part of the conversation. The planning committee, IDSA employees & members, & speakers/panel members will be periodically posting info & updates, & you can too! Find us on:




Thank you!

You guys should take that on tour, solicit volunteers from the different destinations. One of the best things about last year’s IDSA Midwest conf was going over to Worrell for the after party.

Thanks Claire. I did look at the speaker list and it does look pretty decent. The location still seems a bit weird, but I think the line up might make me eat my words and go.

True, its not well known, but we were just there again today and its a truly beautiful campus. Gotta see it to believe it. Apparently, Kean University is endowed by the Kean family, who is the NJ royalty - former governor, etc. Like the Kennedys of NJ if you will. Its like an oasis really, with these buildings and campus that appears out of no where, and they are still building.
We are pschyed that the gala this year will be at Smart Design, who is known for great parties, and we are working on seeing if people will open their doors for studio tours on Friday.
Come one come all and be sure to join the dialog on FB, Linked & Twitter.


Marco, sorry this thread is just hijacked all to heck. Now that I apologized, I’m going to continue to throw it off track… sorry…

I’d just like to say, that I want the IDSA to understand that my comments come from a place where I advocate a strong, relevant, national (and global) design organization that is an evangelist for the professional practice of product design.

With all due respect to the good people that volunteer their time, their intellect, their hard work, and their money; I think you are rowing very hard in a boat that has been going in the wrong direction for a long time.

We don’t need a better conference (or conference location), we don’t need a redesigned website, we need a better designed organization. Everything needs to be rethought, including where the organization is based out of (Washington DC).

I would love to be a part of the process, to assist in any way possible, and to champion this rebirth of relevance. Until then I will continue to speak at conferences when asked, but I won’t be a member, I won’t donate, and I won’t volunteer, and I won’t encourage others to either. You know how to contact me.

Someone might get smart and start their own design organization. The IDSA started as the result of the merging of several different design organizations. Maybe it’s time for a split? Maybe the best way to heal the bone is to re-break it?

In 1936, the American Furniture Mart in Chicago invited leading designers to form a new organization called the Designers’ Institute of the American Furniture Mart. Some members felt restricted by the sole patronage and sponsorship of the furniture industry, and in 1938 they founded a broader-based organization called the American Designers Institute (ADI), which allowed specialization in one of many design areas, including crafts, decorative arts, graphics, products, packaging, exhibit or automotive styling, to name a few. ADI’s first president was John Vassos (1898-1985).

In February 1944, fifteen prominent East Coast design practitioners established the Society of Industrial Designers (SID). Each of the founding members invited one additional designer to join the following year. Membership requirements were stringent, requiring the design of at least three mass-produced products in different industries. SID was formed in part to reinforce the legality of industrial design as a profession, and to restrict membership to experienced professionals. SID’s first president was Walter Dorwin Teague.

In 1951, ADI relocated its administrative center to New York City, absorbing the Chicago Society of Industrial Designers (CSID) in the process and changing its name to the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI). That year, IDI initiated annual national design awards, which continued through 1965. By 1962, IDI had about 350 members in 10 city chapters across the country.
In 1955, The Society of Industrial Designers (SID) changed its name to the American Society of Industrial Design (ASID). By 1962, ASID had about 100 members in four chapters nationally.
In 1957, The Industrial Design Education Association (IDEA) was founded because neither professional society (IDI or ASID) accepted educators as full members. Its first president was Joseph Carriero (1920-1978).
In 1965, after over ten years of careful negotiations, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) was formed by the collaborative merger of IDI, ASID and IDEA. In doing so, the strengths, purposes and varied philosophies of its predecessors combined to become the single voice of industrial design in the US.
When IDSA was formed, it consisted of about 600 members in 10 chapters across the country. The first Chairman of its Board was John Vassos (1898-1985), the founder of ADI, and its first President was Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972).

Written by Caroll Gantz for Wikipedia.

sad thing is that it seems Idsa still isn’t. Listening. There’s a whole discussion and audience here and the only response is to check “our facebook page”. Way to ignore the isuue and be even more irrelevant. How about actually getting a dialog going here on core? So far it seems there have been replies by at least 5 different idsa people, but none have stuck around longer than a few posts to actually follow-up or continue the dialog.