Dan Formosa is an award-winning, well-renowned researcher. Dan holds degrees in industrial design, a Master’s and a PhD in ergonomics and biomechanics, and has a background in product design. He is a design research consultant who collaborates with businesses, organizations, and internal creative teams to develop innovative and socially responsible products and services in a variety of domains. Dan has won multiple design accolades throughout his career and is frequently requested to lecture and lead workshops across the world. His work has also been chosen for national and international shows.

Dan has been working on ways to better understand design and its possibilities, using both quantitative and qualitative strategies in design research and relying on information from a variety of fields. Dan has based his career on the premise that design should be focused on people rather than things.

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Dan Formosa_©Johnny Syversen

From the beginning, Dan Formosa has been reshaping the way consumers think about design. With a background in both product design and ergonomics, he has the knowledge about how a product should operate, and how people work with the idea that design is about people, not things. He is a strong believer that innovation does not necessarily mean invention. 

Dan claims – ‘’A good design/ a good product/ a good service exceeds the expectations and that is a minimum requirement of today. The only thing one can do better than that is exceed expectations by far a lot. 

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Berlin school of creative leadership_©nadja-forbes

He co-founded Smart Design in 1981. Smart Design is a product, service, and experience design agency that specializes in strategic design. Smart Design has a 26-year track record of transforming customer research and innovation into profitable products, communications, and brands. It was one of the first firms to embrace design thinking and was featured in the 2009 documentary Objectified, where they talked about the user-centred design approach. To ensure solutions that connect with people, their multidisciplinary approach brings together professionals in product, visual, and interface design, business aspects, engineering, and design research.

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Smart design- 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid’s Smartgauge with Eco Drive_©zdnet

Ford, HP, Johnson & Johnson, LG Electronics, Microsoft, OXO, and UCB are among Dan Formosa’s clientele. Dan created SmartGauge, a Ford Motor Company instrument cluster meant to alter driving behaviour in order to conserve gasoline, which became an industry first. Dan’s OXO Good Grips kitchenware, which he invented in 1990, became a symbol of products manufactured for everyone. The OXO swivel peeler was one of the first examples of inclusive design and is now in collections at the Museum of Modern Art, and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. His other awards include the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, accepted on behalf of Smart Design, and IxDA’s first annual Interaction Design Award, in the “Disruptive” category.

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Oxo good grips_©zdnet

“People talking to each other is good for design”, says Formosa. “If you have a bad product, people are going to know about it quickly, and for a good new product the buzz will get out there quickly. I don’t see it as a drag on innovation or design, I see it as quite the opposite.”

He co-founded two collectives, 4B Collective, that primarily focuses on design and gender, and Brainpool, that also focuses on design and emotion, in addition to his consulting work. Many businesses and organisations have a huge potential to better engage with women and to explore how men and women think, behave, and are built differently. He recognises that the male-dominated design and engineering sectors have a blindspot for women, and he co-founded 4B to alter that. Food, medical items, and autos are among the topics discussed at 4B.

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Presentation summaries_©Sheryl Burgstahler and Kat Steele Washington edu

With an interest in both baseball and information design, he co-authored and illustrated the bestselling book Baseball Field Guide, employing principles of information design to explain the intricate rules of Major League Baseball. 

Dan also helped in creating the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, the first of its kind, exploring the future of brands and also lectures and writes frequently about the physical and emotional aspects of design.

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IDSANYC_©Ray Hu, core77

Dan delivers conferences and writes on design approaches, as well as the physical and emotional elements of design and innovation, all around the world. In 2017, he was a Visiting Distinguished Professor at South Korea’s KAIST University. Currently, Dan has been hosting the renowned successful Well Equipped YouTube series as a side project with an audience of more than 30 million people. While examining (typically unusual) kitchen goods, the series shows the inclusive design and points out where their designers and design teams may have gone wrong.

Testing Gadgets_©Epicurious

Among his writings is an appearance in the 2009 documentary film Objectified on product design. In May of 2011, he appeared on CBS Sunday Morning for a design program, where he discussed the notion of “design for everyone” and the requirements of persons with arthritis. He was interviewed for the books Glimmer on How Design Can Change Your Life, published in 2009, and Brand Thinking, published in 2011. Dan participated in the 2020 documentary Life on Wheels, a video on the future of transportation, and was named one of Business Insider’s DESIGN 75: The Best Designers in Technology.

References:

  1. Ideasondesign [Online] Dan Formosa. Available at http://ideasondesign.net/
  2. Dan Formosa [Online] Design is about people, not things. Available at https://danformosa.com/ 
  3. DenverDesignWeek [Online] Biography on Dan Formosa. Available at www.denverdesignweek.com 
Author

A recent architecture grad student who believes design and research play a creative role in shaping society while providing advanced solutions. Her curiosity has drawn her passion into understanding the psychology of architecture with human behaviour and art. She relishes reading, discovering, and craves to learn more each day.

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