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Designing for Innovation and the Start-up Success - a Pre-iGNITE Convergence presentation.


Curry Student Center - the Pit in the Indoor Quad

September 13, 2016 12:01 pm to 1:00 pm
September 13, 2016 12:01 pm to 1:00 pm

On Tuesday at lunchtime in the CSC, Gregory Polletta will speak with undergraduate and graduate students about Design Thinking and Innovation, New Product Development, and the Start-up Success.   

The talk is an introduction to the iGNITE Convergence Program created and running since 2005 by Gregory Polletta as the worlds first concentrated Innovation, Design, Engineering and Business program, before the Stanford iGNITE program, or Cambridge UK's iGNITE program. Tuesdays' talk focuses on helping young designers and entrepreneurs understand the multiple skills that are needed in order to be a successful innovator.

Prof. Polletta has taught at several universities and is successful international designer and is founder of iGNITIATE, an innovation strategy and new product development firm that works in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Over the years, he has worked with firms and organizations such as Parsons School of Design, Lucerne School of Art and Design, Royal College of Art, US National Science Foundation, US Department of Defense, Pfizer, L’Oreal, Louis Vuitton, Roche Bobois, Banana Republic, and many others. 

In the interview below, Polletta talks about some of the hardest lessons learned surrounding design and design thinking as well as embedding the entrepreneurial attitude into design, new product development, and new ventures activities.

Can you give some examples of where you've had successes and where you've had to learn the hardest lessons?

The best way to ensure design and innovation success and to fully integrate and balance the 3 critical factors of design/design thinking and innovation over time is to keep a very cool head via our ICED model. The key of the ICED model is paying particular attention to the time variable and that Commerce or Business is the final step and not the 1st step in bringing a future innovation conceived at a previous future point into the present. The "I" as innovation does not happen overnight. More importantly the present where commerce is utilized for future design success, is a moving target from a past design or "innovation" effort.ICED is Innovation = Commerce + Engineering + Design and articulates paying clear attention to the fact that Design and Design Thinking is the point of the arrow: the farthest point in the future where what is about to come into existence is articulated via future scenarios, R&D and prototyping.

Specifically some of our biggest successes & most difficult lessons learned while implementing our ICED model with clients and partners are:

1) Innovation = COMMERCE + ENGINEERING + DESIGN: is an even more multifaceted phase of the entire design and innovation process and with this it is even rarer still to make substantial impact but when you are lucky enough to do this. It was a true privilege to be one of the 5 lead designers of the LINK System - a fully integrated child welfare system and the first of its kind in the United States back in 1996. The LINK System, literally helps to save children's lives however the difficulty was the timing: 2yrs to design, engineer and implement a fully integrated system that was the basis for protecting children in all cases of abuse, neglect, adoption, and foster care as well as the interfaces to the financial, managerial and reporting needs of the State of Connecticut was an incredible challenge. Sleeping at the office, working weeks on end, the lesson was timing and planning appropriately. In the end, as I previously said, it was the team that made this possible and a very tight interaction between highly qualified designers, engineers and business skills that each team member had. However the lesson here was simple: careful planning is the key and managing such intense projects carefully can be the difference between success and stressful success.

2)  Innovation = Commerce + ENGINEERING + DESIGN: is the next logical step to design innovation and can sometimes take an incredible amount of effort and last minute mind crushing failures before it can be realized. In this case, the REUTPALA design for the World Retail Congress that I presented to Alberto Alessi as a lifetime achievement award is something that I'm quite proud of. The design itself literally took almost 300 days of effort, countless prototypes, and breaking two 3D printers along the way with many failures in terms of how it was even to be manufactured. Working with quite a few international teams and experts in fields such as advanced 3D metal printing, Rhino, Grasshopper and Kangaroo parametric programing, the design ended up being a poetic representation of giving which is the basis for the retail world and at the same time having a very strong underpinning to REUTPALA - a higher form through the expression of design and the 7 leaf lotus motif of REUTPALA. The problem came in manufacturing and we almost weren't able to produce the design. It was literally down to the last minute because of the complexity of the design and the budget given. When we finally found manufacturers capable to produce it, if it were not for their kind assistance and help with the engineering, the design would have never made it. Similarly, bringing a fully mass produced REUTPALA design to market and the idea of giving and receiving so it can be placed on tables and given as a gifts is something we are working on now. The engineering hurdles to this are only a function of time, much like the REUTPALA design itself but learning this lesson of delivering it right down to the wire with a very important international client such as the world retail congress was a very hard lesson to learn.

3) Innovation = Commerce + Engineering + DESIGN: is probably the most important part for me because it is where things are 1st envisioned. Our PIANOFORTE series  for Roche Bobois Paris brought us a best of Elle Decor and Architectural Digest design awards and made Roche Bobois quite happy with the product's multimillion euro sales success. In 2009 we were also very much in the throws of our success with our Topiade moving Pin facade Design for Louis Vuitton as another example of a very elegant yet highly complex design with many international partners but which ultimately got copied in the Megafon's Megafaces project in 2014. I had sketched out the initial technological underpinnings of this project back when I was working at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley and Cambridge England back in 1998 based on conversations I was having with scientists then about how to represent complex moving geometries in real time based on the work that was going on with Gryicon Balls at Xerox PARC. Fast forward to 2006 in Milan and I was able to take the core technologies and apply them to a real world client, Louis Vuitton, and the team and I were able to embed beauty and poetry into a cohesive design via topiary art - a very French art form connected to our client Louis Vuitton.