Who is the Curator for Industrial Design?

I’ve been pondering the question of who is the curator for Industrial Design. The question comes up often enough in my head, that I can’t help but think that it is one that has to be going through other designers’ heads as well. It was brought even more front and center recently when I was invited to interview for the IDSA‘s recent opening for Executive Director. For years, I’ve thought of IDSA as the industry’s curator. But that definitely does not seem to be the case….at least if you use what my observations lean towards as a general malaise whenever the topic of IDSA comes up.

IDSA went outside of the design industry for the Executive Director position. I have yet to decide whether I think this a good thing or a bad thing. On the good side, IDSA needs a fresh perspective. We’re in changing times and I believe that the industry is hungry for leadership. Someone coming in with the experience of leading industry organizations could very well be the thing that’s needed.

My problem is all the grey on top of Mr. Martinage’s head. If there’s an industry that I believe belongs to youth it is industrial design. In an era of shifting communication methods and less bandwidth than ever with ever shorting time frames to keep people’s attention….I’m not convinced it is someone north of 50 who should be taking on this job. But, time will tell. The one thing I do believe from my time speaking with IDSA, is that they understand that they are behind the eight ball and they believe change is needed.

Another item that makes me question who the curator for our industry is comes from a recent 60 minutes spot about IDEO. As quoted from the spot, Charlie Rose states:

IDEO may be the most influential product design company in the world

The lines start to blur in a world of Twitter, Facebook, and PR spins at every turn. We have “design supersites” like Core77, and design management groups (DMI). Slather a layer of global organizations on top of it all with the International Council for the Society of Industrial Deign (ICSID) and then sprinkle in a dusting of local organizations like we have here in Canada (BCID, ACID, Design Exchange, etc.) and you have a veritable quagmire of voices all trying to angle for the position of Curator.

So, who is the curator for Industrial Design? I for one hope an organization like IDSA can take up the mantle. I find it disconcerting when a corporation like IDEO is in the position of being the voice of an industry. I’d love for someone to prove me wrong on this observation.

What do you think? Who is curator for industrial design?

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