Institute of Design Professor Offers Lessons in Product Design in New Book

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By Andrew Connor

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Martin Thaler, a studio professor at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design and a product design expert, is the co-author of a new book 101 Things I Learned in Product Design School. The book is a collaboration with Sung Jang, associate professor and chair of industrial design at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and series editor Matthew Frederick. Thaler and Jang will discuss principles of design with students from ID and UIC on Tuesday, November 10, at 7 p.m. in exploreID: New to Design, a Zoom webinar

The book is the 10th in the 101 Things I Learned series, which draws on academic and industry experts to break down their respective fields into essential lessons, particularly for those still finding, or changing, their professional paths. The lessons range from “why every product is a part of a system” to “the difference between being clever and being gimmicky.”

“At ID we welcome students from every background, from former teachers to biologists, who seek to understand design from a fundamental and principled perspective,” says Thaler. “In my teaching, I try to demonstrate the principles of design through physical products: how these fit into an experience and systems approach. We work on projects to develop a student's ability to combine high-level concepts with craft skills. It's this perspective that informs many lessons in the book.”

A seasoned product designer and educator, Thaler has taught full-time at ID since 2008, leading workshops that inform a human-centered approach to product design. In celebration of the Bauhaus centenary, Thaler contributed a chapter, “Bauhaus Products for Our Time,” to Bauhaus Futures (MIT Press, 2019). He also advised on ID’s collaborative research project with Fortune magazine, “100 Great Designs of Modern Times.”

101 Things I Learned in Product Design School was released October 13, 2020, and is available in digital and physical formats.