Meet Steve Goldberg
May 7, 2018

Meet Steve Goldberg: Award Winning Design

Steve GoldbergWe got the opportunity to catch up with Steve Goldberg, winner of Mockett's Annual Design Competition, to learn more about his award-winning design and to find out more about his process and his thoughts on the future of design.

What was the inspiration for your award winning design?

The concept for EDGETRACK was prompted by the wiring mess along one edge of the area rug in my living room; that edge also happens to lie alongside the walkway to an outside balcony. On the rug are two powered recliners, and a halogen lamp; the problem was how to neatly route the wires from three different locations to an outlet plate on the adjacent side wall. We had tried looping the cables over the carpet edge, then running them underneath the carpet toward the outlet - which sort of worked - but as we walked back and forth to the balcony, occasionally stepping on the rug, inevitably the wires would to creep out from underneath and become trip hazards. Finally, I went searching for an appropriate wire manager, but found nothing (not even from Mockett...), so to solve the problem, I created Edgetrack.

What first got you interested in design?

It seems like I’ve always been interested in design. I was fascinated by chemistry and the design of molecules. I loved photography and developing my own film and prints. My parents got me a drafting set (with a backlit table...!) for my 12th birthday so I could draw my ideas. But cars brought out the industrial designer in me. I loved cars. 
Like most kids, I built models; at first, ships and planes. But model cars soon became my focus, and I started building kits, and learning to paint candy apple finishes. Soon I was swapping and combining parts, chopping and channeling car bodies, even scratch building working suspension components. I entered national model-building competitions, won two honorable mentions, and had my designs published; I’ve been building things for a living ever since. Since 1979, and continuing today, my major career focus has been the design and production of technical furniture and consoles for television and radio broadcasting control rooms. Along the way, I’ve also designed several (and patented one...) ergonomic and wire management products.

How has the design world changed during your professional career and how has that influenced your approach to designing as a result?

That’s easy: Computer Aided Design; CAD. I’ve been designing and building control room consoles and technical furniture for 35 years, and I still have the last set of plans I drew by hand, from 1986, when I got my first PC. I switched from pencil, pen, and a parallel rule drafting table, to designing in 2D on the computer, and printing drawings with a 6-color pen plotter. Drawing elements could now easily be moved, copied, or reused, and changes made without redrawing everything; it was amazing, and changed everything. Then 3D design programs with similar features appeared, and combined with rendering software, photorealistic product visualization became possible. Thanks to these newfound capabilities, more design variations could be tried, in more detail, and faster than ever before. CAD was the epitome of a disruptive technology, and has evolved into today’s desktop 3D printing and rapid prototyping, which allow for quick, hands-on evaluation and usage testing of new products. Different variations are quicker, easier, and less expensive to explore than ever before, and that process leads to more refined products. For example, Edgetrack, my first- place winner this year, required three printed prototypes to reach the final design; another current project has already gone through five iterations. But so what? Since the cost of prototyping each version is so low, I’m more than willing to produce and test variations until I’m satisfied with the design. This is valuable and unprecedented design freedom.

What are the most important elements of a good design? How do you address those factors during the design process?

For me, first of all, a memorable design pleases the senses. Whether the product being designed is a sculptural artwork or a wrench, we humans are part of the design equation, and we respond favorably to certain combinations of proportion and color, as evidenced by the fact that the principles of sacred geometry have remained valid for centuries. And so, while engineering a product’s function, I’m also designing its visual aspects, and one effort continually influences the other.

The primary reason for designing anything is to accomplish some purpose, whether solving a mechanical problem or creating a beautiful sculpture. And that’s the other most important element to consider – how well the design delivers on its intended purpose. For instance, a tool has to do its job, the sculpture should evoke emotion, and an online checkout form must be easy to use on a smartphone.

Another increasingly important factor in product design is called “design for manufacturability” (DFM), an approach wherein how something will physically be made informs the product’s design, with the goal of reducing manufacturing cost and lead-time. Today, 3D printing and desktop prototyping are valuable tools for developing DFM practices. There’s one more factor to weigh, though, a more elusive quality: “DESIRABILITY”. That’s the element, which draws people to a product and makes them want to possess it...! For me, this factor is a synthesis of attractive form, touchability, and clear purposefulness; it’s more art than science...and always worth considering.

During the design process, in order to address these concerns, I’ll ongoingly ask questions like, “Who will use this? Will it be intuitive to operate? Does the shape evoke emotion? Are the materials inviting to the touch? Can a display be read by older people without glasses? Can you conveniently change batteries? Can it be manufactured economically, or do we need to change materials? Is there a better way to accomplish the same thing?” And that’s the key: keep asking questions. Consider the design from as many angles as possible. Think simultaneously like an end user, a manufacturer, and a salesman; the more perspectives, the better the product.

How do you see technology affecting the future of industrial design?

We’re entering Industry 4.0, based on CAD and modeling software, where 3D printing - additive manufacturing (AM) - becomes a regular and “ordinary” means of producing goods, employed where appropriate, alongside traditional methods. And the means to 3D print design prototypes quickly, and locally, in materials and finishes similar to those used in during large-scale manufacturing, will continue to improve. These new capabilities inherently foster a closer relationship, and greater understanding between designers and manufacturers, building on the DFM (design for manufacturability) movement already underway.

6. Trends come and go, but are there any trend(s) that you see happening in the design world right now that are here to stay?

3D printing tops my list. The changes being brought about by additive manufacturing are so sweeping and disruptive, it’s difficult to predict what’s next, but as a production technique, it’s definitely here to stay. Here are some other current trends I expect to continue growing and evolving:

  • Virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR) assisting in design visualization and validation

  • Internet of Things (IoT) requiring designers to integrate electronic components with more product designs

  • crowdsourced product design and bespoke manufacturing of tools, products and even artworks

  • a shift from using AM mainly for prototyping and tooling, to manufacturing short-run, end-use parts

  • professional “desktop” 3D printing, especially in metals and multi-color, multi-material plastics

  • ever-increasing additive manufacturing part size capabilities and faster printing speeds, in all materials

  • decentralized, local 3D printing of new products, components, and replacement parts

American Style

American Style

Steve Goldberg's Winning Entry pictured above. EDGETRACK Floor Wire Manager. Visit SGE Designs Inc to learn more.

Meet the other 2017 Design Competition Winners