Straight Talk On American Design | Part 3

We asked dozens of designers to critique U.S. design. They’re not a bashful bunch.

Even the most celebrated American design success story–Apple–has a British hand behind it. Let’s face it, that cute tag on your iPhone box that says “Designed by Apple in California” comes with a wink. It really means “designed in California under the watchful eye of a Brit to be made in China.”
Mark Payne, Fahrenheit 212


We lead the world in innovation, not in any particular style of design.
Nathan Shedroff, California College of the Arts

As a summer intern at Microsoft in 1996, I remember attending a reception at Bill Gates’s house and the confusion on his face when I introduced myself as a designer, not an engineer. What was a designer doing at Microsoft? Yet today user-centered design, which emerged largely out of software development in California in the ’80s, has been embraced by corporate America.
Robert Fabricant, Frog Design

Design is an iterative process of learning, exploring, prototyping, testing, and refining. It’s indicative of the American way. Nothing is ever a one-shot deal. This is the land of opportunity, of second or third or even fourth chances. American designers are up to the challenge.
Michelle Berryman, Echovizm


We lead the world in hopeful answers to new problems.
Mark Dziersk, Lunar

We Lead in the audacity to propose change.
Ric Grefé, AIGA

Companies used to come to us asking for products. More recently, they have been asking us to help them understand their customers. It’s almost as if our role has transcended from design experts to relationship consultants.
Davin Stowell, Smart Design


It’s not always good but takes the necessary risks to drive innovation. I believe American design succeeds on a form-follows-convenience model. It might not always be what we truly need, but it is very often what we want. Examples: Why does the Rabbit wine corker exist? do we really need Facebook access while driving? Design can be so embarrassing at times.
KEN CARBONE, Carbone Smolan Agency

We lag behind in maintaining our lead. Innovation requires investment, refinement, and continuous development.
Dan Harden, Whipsaw

Back To Straight Talk Part 1>>