Mark Schoening, Director of Industrial Design assist students.


Two local schools offer Industrial Design degrees: The Art Institute of Portland [BS Industrial Design] and University of Oregon [BFA Product Design].  Both have active student chapters in IDSA [Industrial Design Society of America], ID’s professional organization.  Every year, one student from each school is honored with an IDSA Merit Award, and the Design Students compete at the Western Region IDSA Conference [held this year in April/ Long Beach, CA.]  There, they face stiff competition from otherwestern schools: Art Center in Pasadena, California State Universities at Long Beach and San Jose, BYU, Arizona State University and others.  Similar competitions occur at 5 different district conferences throughout the US; one student from each district will then be showcased at the IDSA National Conference, this year in August / Chicago. 

Mark Schoening, SIGMADESIGN’s Director of Industrial Design, shares his experience as an IDSA juror:

I was asked, along with five other local professional designers, to sit on a jury to select this year’s IDSA Merit Award Winners.  Held [Tuesday evening March 19] at the White Stag building in downtown Portland; three top students from each school were allowed 10 minutes each to present their work, to jurors and an audience of about fifty other professionals, fellow students and supporters.  Most had slideshows, some included video.  All were somewhat anxious – though the high standard of work more than made up for their nervousness.  Each shared three or four projects.  Their goal was to communicate the breadth of both their design interest and experience; demonstrate their verbal and visual skills, and somehow, convince us of their potential.  Projects ranged from table-lamps to single-skull-seating for a double-amputee athlete.  At the end of the presentations, we jurors – along with our copious notes – retired to chambers to discuss and deliberate.  And then the fun began: we were all amazed how our different perceptions and perspectives led to such different conclusions.  All votes were very evenly split, and only after much debate were we able to decide on a single [for each school] winner.   Then back to the auditorium where all six competitors would stand front and center prepared for the thrill of their award … or the agony of their critique. Each student was first given short, generally positive, feedback from each juror, ranging from “nice images” to “great research on project X.”  Once this was done, Scott Peterson – Portland chapter IDSA president – announced the winners.  This year, it will be Tim Ploeger from UofO, and  Jonathan Wilson from Art Institute.  Jurors and audience members all stayed for another hour or so generously sharing more one-on-one feedback with students – until asked to leave by weary but gracious UofO personnel.  Great to meet up and coming designers; delightful to see the quality of design education continuing to improve; wonderful to connect with design community and old friends – will look forward to next year!