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Knowing Innovation: Designers’ Panel Discussion: Marianne Grisdale, TEAMS Design USA; Tania Aldous, World Kitchen, LLC; Alice Jandrisits, RedFusion Studios and Doris Wells-Papanek, Tailored Learning Tools

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Coming soon at the International Home + Housewares Show, the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center will present 21 educational programs, every hour beginning Saturday afternoon and ending Tuesday afternoon. The Theater is set in Room E350, near the entry to the Level 3 Lobby and the Hall of Innovation. Experts in new product development and launch will discuss critical and timely topics in our industry. To help you plan your time at the Show, we introduce you to the presenters with a series of interviews. Be sure to mark your calendars for these exciting programs!  Check regularly for updates on the schedule of Show events.

The Real Story Behind the Buying Power of Women: What Women As Designers Have Discovered
Monday, March 12, 3:30 -4:20 pm

Each year at our Theater, we host a panel discussion by members of the IDSA (Industrial Designers Society of America) Housewares Section. As design and innovation have taken center stage in the housewares industry, the work of designers is recognized and acclaimed. Despite the common understanding that women control most of a household’s spending power and determine which products enter a home, the voices of women as designers are not often heard. This panel joins women designers who have broad experience in the consumer research and design that are required to create housewares products.

MarianneHeadShot2011Marianne Grisdale, IDSA, serves as the IDSA Housewares Section Chair and creative manager for TEAMS Design USA.  This role combines the skills of designer, researcher, project manager, strategist and account manager.   As an award-winning designer for more than 20 years, Marianne works with global and local brands such as Mr. Coffee, Sunbeam, Canadian Tire, Fiskars, Bosch and Siemens.

Jandrisits Bio Pic_2Alice Jandrisits, IDSA, is the director of research + design for RedFusion Studios, where she leads user insights/research and directs industrial design. Prior to RedFusion Studios, she led the corporate Industrial Design group for Baxter Healthcare where she directed the group in User-Centered Design processes.

Aldous_picTania Aldous, IDSA, is the global director of industrial design at World Kitchen and manages such brands as Pyrex, Chicago Cutlery and CorningWare. Prior to World Kitchen, Tania was the U.S. design director at Whirlpool Corporation. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, she has applied a global perspective to a diversity of leading brands throughout her career including KitchenAid, Whirlpool, Jennair, Maytag, Swatch, Mars Confectionery and the Sydney Olympics as a designer and design leader. Tania holds two degrees in Technology and Design from Monash University, Australia.

Doris Wells-Papanek - scaledAs principal of Tailored Learning Tools, Challenge Facilitator Doris Wells-Papanek, MEd, IDSA, collaborates with educators, practitioners and learners to design and research learning experiences. Using an action research approach, Doris conducts human-centered research studies to co-create effective change strategies. She has co-authored and published five research-based and learning-centered books, published many papers and presented at numerous conferences. She has collaborated with companies and learning organizations such as Apple and Xerox, as well as public school districts and universities.

These experts will discuss demographic changes that are already affecting design, market share and success.  They will touch upon U.S. female buying power and how the U.S. differs from what’s happening globally. Looking at opportunities in global trends, they’ll outline how the new well-educated woman in the workplace affects familial roles and how design can support and enable the family to adapt.

What inspires your passion in your work or area of expertise?

Marianne: A love of design and a constant curiosity about people and their motivations.

Alice: I’m inspired by the people who will use the products, systems and environments that we design. It’s one thing to meet customers’ expectations, but quite rewarding when you can truly delight them with unique and memorable user experiences. For most product designers, I feel that this is the ultimate goal.

Doris: I am passionate about the intersection of design and learning.

Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?

Marianne: I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the community by bringing content that I hope is interesting and compelling.

Alice: I was fortunate to come to know a wonderful and talented group of fellow industrial designers: Marianne, Tania, Doris as well as several others in the IDSA community. As we were discussing our diverse backgrounds and interests, the topic of the Housewares Show came up and we decided to pull our shared learning and experiences together.

Doris: My personal connection to the Housewares Show began while participating in a panel of designers who happened to be women. We had a blast, as did our attendees – as a collective we experienced a full-on open dialogue in regards to the discipline of industrial design from a woman’s perspective and beyond.

Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.

Marianne: We will discuss how changing roles in society, both locally and globally, affect who has direct or indirect influence over consumer spending dollars and in turn how this affects the design and function of new products for the housewares industry.

If this is your first time as a speaker at the Show, what are you expecting? If you’re returning, what are you looking forward to most?

Marianne: This is not my first time. I’ve organized the IDSA panel discussion at the Show for several years.  I’m looking forward to having people stay long past the end time again (I hope!) asking questions because they are interested.

Alice: Yes, this is my first time. I’m hoping for/envisioning a lively engagement with the audience. We certainly hope our topic is of interest and resonates with attendees. We would love to hear insights from the audience as well.

Doris: This is my first experience speaking at the Show, I have no idea what to expect. That said, I love the embracing the unknown, with the intent of discovering new ways of thinking and diverse contexts.

How does the Innovation Theater help you spread your message?

Marianne: By giving us a place to put on meaningful events and host conversations like our panel discussions, the IHA and Innovation Theater give us an opportunity to showcase the content and thought leadership that IDSA brings to its members.

Doris: This panel affords us the opportunity to share our collective thoughts along with learning from like-minded folks. We will share our positions, conversations will take place, new questions will come to light.
What kind of impact as a whole can the speakers of the Innovation Theater have at the Show?

Marianne: The speakers will give new insights and actionable items for retailers, marketers, manufacturers and designers to implement in their product development.  This will result in more successful products.

Alice: I’m sure that the variety of topics covered will be interesting and forward-thinking. Ideally, this forum of shared knowledge can help product development teams, manufacturers, retailers and marketing professionals connect with their customers more effectively.

Doris: It would be my wish that some aspect of our panel will cause our attendees to explore and engage in similar inquiry – to gain meaningful answers to worthwhile questions.

What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals face in the housewares market?

Marianne: The housewares market is highly commoditized as a fairly mature market.  Companies continually seek new opportunities to innovate and still be able to make a profit.  Because of changing needs, especially globally, manufacturers and other product development professionals need to understand what these changing needs are and why they are happening. They also must learn what can be done to satisfy these needs while bringing new innovation to the marketplace.

Alice: Providing value to the customers while still offering high design standards and innovation in the various product categories. There is a continuous pressure to lower costs in order to be competitive. However, I feel there is room for differentiation through value-added product offerings that can fulfill distinctive needs in the marketplace. Designing for mass market appeal will only get companies so far. Organizations need to adapt and remain somewhat flexible in order to offer products for custom niche markets as well.  In today’s global marketplace, understanding cultural differences and design preferences (sometimes subtly nuanced) is another important area.

Doris: We welcome the opportunity to reach out to a greater context and explore the needs of a changing market with the aim to make the world a better place.

What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?

Marianne: Ease of use, cleaning, longevity/durability, material content safety and storage.

Alice: Consumers are often disappointed, either with the overall brand promise or quality of their products (doesn’t quite do what it promised to do or doesn’t last very long) or with the complexity of the products (too many bells + whistles issues).

Regarding the latter concern, usability is key.  If a product is easy to use and intuitive, purchasers are going to rave about it…and spread the word to others.  Word of mouth is quite powerful, and with more emphasis on social networking, blog sites, etc., consumers have a strong, collective voice.

Doris: My concern is centered on the human condition, to be mindful of the impact housewares design decisions have on working women and their families.

What is the best advice you could give someone trying to get into your area of expertise?

Marianne: Pick a great industrial design school and get your degree.  Do as many internships as you can prior to graduation.

Alice: As in any profession, one starts out getting a solid educational background from a recognized university and then concentrates on building skills and experience in the chosen field. My advice: Regardless of the type of products or specific industry you have pursued…always keep the end user as the focus of your process. By doing so, you’ll develop better products that will truly delight your customers.

Doris: My advice – never stop being curious and actively engage in constructive dialogue. While conversing, carefully listen to what is being communicated and what is not. Challenge your mind to observe, connect, and identify relationships in hopes of discovering “themes” of new collective thought.

Thank you, Marianne, Alice, Tania and Doris. Your program will answer the classic question “What do women want?” with fact-based insights as well as intuition. We look forward to a unique presentation from designers who understand and know the needs of women consumers so well.

To participate in their ongoing What Women Designers are Discovering! survey, please visit:

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