What are some of IDEO's recent marketplace successes?

I recently got into a debate with my boss regarding IDEO. Don’t get me wrong, I know they do good work, but I wanted to know if you guys can give a short list of designs they did that were hits in the marketplace (last 1-2 years).

My point is that if they are considered to be the “biggest and the best” (by the media & corporate buyers), show me the money! What are they rockin’ lately?
Is there megacool stuff that they can’t show due to NDA’s? Am I missing something?


This may be a result of their shift in focus to experience design and emphasis on process and evangelism.

What kind of companies are going to IDEO and why?
What kind of work are they seeking/accepting these days?

This is a very good question. There are many mega-million dollar new products hitting the market everyday… Who is doing them? Have they done any? at least lately.

That is why you wonder if there is substance behind the hype of them, fuseproject, etc. Maybe they are doing more experiential work. Strategy. Influencing process. What about fuse? They are almost hotter but everything I see the hype around I never see in the market, on the shelves or being worn or used? Only in magazines. I wonder why the “show me the money” question does not come up more in relation to supposed “design successes” in general?

Just jumped to IDEO’s site. If you go there they have some impressive work though. Not really consumer products. More medical, experience and strategy. And the Lifeport product is an amazing breakthrough that will save many lives. Guess you don’t need to do the next perfume bottle when you can make that kind of impact. True emotional design.

Please don’t misunderstand my thinking, I’m not knocking their work or their hype (just jealous). I’m just wondering if they are the “thought leader” - who is our “sales leader”?

Anyone know of another ‘Swiffer level’ success that came from an ID firm? Why are we so afraid/incapable of being able to say “this was a shit product before we got involved, now it’s got tons of free media coverage and selling 642% more than the product it replaces”?

I think the lack of cachet of something like the Catalyst Award from BW revolves around the fact that as design consultants, we are not privvy to the marketing numbers that justify our ROI. I am postulating, therefore, that one of the major reasons we have not been able to further elevate our collective importance in Corporate America, is the cruel fact that we can’t prove our financial impact on marketplace success beyond anecdotal evidence. Until we do, we will not see real, new, organic growth in our industry.

What can we do as a community to create/share these case studies, and why are the “first tier” firms so afraid of sharing what they know - if they indeed are capable of demonstrating it in the first place…

Please nominate any ID firm that you know has had (and can list) at least 3-5 bona fide bestsellers in the last 5 years.

Astro - Triax - Catalyst
New Deal - Zire - Catalyst; some Rio stuff that did well i think

then there are plenty of small firms that don’t promote and do many of the day in and day out volume pieces for companies…

hard though to point out the firms doing the disruptive products that are the big hits from a design and business standpoint. most are done in-house by corps these days when you think about it…

Are they really beiing done in-house corporate? Or is it possible that some of the megafirms are signing restrictive NDAs that disallow promotion from the designers?

Anyone from the megafirms care to comment?

A friend of mine who works in Minnesota was telling me that they recently picked up several projects that were IDEO redo’s. Apparently their work has gone very experimental and many of the clients have been unhappy with the results - too difficult to implement and manufacture.

I know my old boss was infatuated with them and thought that they were the greatest company ever. When I told him that they were essentially bought out by Steelcase a while back and that David Kelly left for Stanford’s D-School he was stunned and didn’t beleive me. He later emailed me telling me that he had looked into it and found it and other things to be true.

I think like anything greatness and perceived greatness come and go. IDEO did some brilliant work but as times and staffs change the company takes different directions and many times the results are less than many would expect. I’m sure that there will continue to be a steady stream of new companies that will inspire us all. The only constant is change.