What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement?
Contributing to improving the daily life of millions of people from every part of society. The New York City subway projects are good examples. We hope Antenna Workspaces [the new system introduced by Knoll this NeoCon®] will also serve that goal well.
What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
First, when we find an elegant solution for a complex problem. Then, when the solution, typically after long periods of development, finally materializes and makes an entry into the real world, where it becomes part of somebody else’s life. Seeing the production line for our design is a humbling experience.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing product designers today?
We need to change people’s behavior through design for a healthier society—not only physically healthier, but also environmentally and socially. Lots of pressing issues are man-made and derived from shortsighted poor judgment.
What is the best thing you’ve learned in the past 10 years?
Clients are critical in the success of a project. If a first encounter with a possible client doesn’t feel good, it may be better not to pursue the relationship. It will save lots of agony.
What inspired your career choices?
MU: Since my childhood, I was fascinated by the relation amongst form, material, and function. Originally, it was derived from WW2 weapons, then shifted to more civilized things like buildings and electronics.
SM: A dissatisfaction with the artifacts surrounding me in my immediate environment while growing up, most notably the furniture and the consumer electronics.
If you could have selected another career, what might you have been?
MU: Could try being an architect, I am curious.
SM: Design was always my first choice, or else a musician—if only I could play an instrument very well.
What advice would you give to design students or those just starting out in the field?
Be open-minded and flexible; it may take you in a direction you didn’t plan, but one that turns out to be very exciting.
How do you foresee the future of industrial design changing?
Future design should be utilized for the betterment of society through changing peoples’ behavior. Here it is crucial to think about interaction between artifacts and people, as well as interaction amongst people mediated by artifacts.
What would you like to leave as your legacy?
Something that keeps inspiring people will be a great thing to leave behind.