What is it about British industrial designers? They seem to have a knack for creating seminal concepts for consumer electronics. Well before Sir Jonathan Ive dreamed up the iPod, his countryman Bill Moggridge designed the first laptop computer for Grid Systems Corp. Its clamshell design blazed the path that would bring mobile computing to every corner of the world. But Moggridge had perhaps an even more profound influence on product development through his focus on user-centric design and inter-disciplinary design teams.
Moggridge died on Saturday, from cancer, the Associated Press reports.
Since 2010 he had been the director of the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in New York. In 1991, he merged his design firm with those of David Kelley and Mike Nuttall to form the user-centric design consulting juggernaut IDEO.
Strong, tenacious and empathetic are among the words used to describe Moggridge in a tribute video on the Cooper-Hewitt website. He was also known for his sense of humor and openness.
“When a designer starts to build empathy for the person they’re designing for, they start to see the nuance of what is meaningful to that person,” David Kelley explains in the video. As a way to better understand people’s interests and why they like certain things, Moggridge brought psychologists into his design teams.
“Bill has had more influence, I think, on other designers than almost any other designer that is working today,” said Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO, says in the video. “Bill has always been a pioneer.”
“The important feature that design brings is this bridge between the sciences and the arts. I don’t think many people understand the power of design to put those two things together,” Moggridge said.
He stressed the importance of introducing design to students at a young age and providing access to design courses in high school. He also thought leaders of all types should know how to use design “for more successful innovation and solutions.”
Because people are at the core of design, he said, no matter how much technology evolves.
Image of Bill Moggridge: Sebastiaan ter Burg