In the Summer of 2013, as I faced a crossroads in my career, I heard about a familiar brand who was embracing a long-lost legacy in order to pave a path into the future. IBM—once a juggernaut of design thanks to its dream team of architects, brand identity specialists, and industrial designers—Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rand, Eero Saarinen, and Eliot Noyes, formed the superhero design core that propelled IBM to the forefront of enterprise design. Decades later, the group’s members had each gone their separate ways, and as a result, IBM strayed far from its design roots. Then in 2010, a man by the name of Phil Gilbert would change the course of the company once more.
You can read all about Phil by way of your favorite search engine, but it’s the direction Mr. Gilbert has taken IBM Design that affects my story. As head of IBM Design, Phil has now positioned the company to return to its glory days of elite product experiences by issuing a company-wide mandate to focus on design and mobile-first thinking.
The scope of this shift cannot be overstated. As of 2012, IBM employed 433,362 people, in 170 countries worldwide, and maintained a catalog of over 3,000 enterprise business-to-business products. A tectonic shift within such an immense, procedurally-ingrained mega-company is destined to cause tidal waves throughout our industry.
“We live in the shadow of what Eliot Noyes and the Eameses, Rand and Saarinen have done… It’s the same mission. It’s just different people.”
-Keith Yamashita, IBM Charles and Ray Eames Brand Fellow
I can’t explain the level of excitement that it brings me to finally share that I will be one of those people. I have the privilege of being a part of that design renaissance, starting in December of this year. I’ve joined IBM Design as a Senior Product Designer/Front-end Developer, where I’ll be surrounded by teams of hungry, talented, hard-working professionals and students who are just as thrilled to be a part of this history in the making as I am.
While I’ve spent about half of my career working remotely, this was the first role that I felt was worth the move. In January of 2014, my family and I will pack up our lives and travel to the vibrant, flavorful city of Austin, Texas.
Much like IBM Design, this is the beginning of a second act for me and my legacy. It’s a dream role, at a dream company. I’m so blessed to be able to have this opportunity, and I can’t wait to see the impact we make on the design community together.