03.05.05 NOTES Dan Cuffaro, CIA IDSA Industrial Design Chair - "Innovations in Art and Design"

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 03/05/2005 - 17:44.

Dan Cuffaro, CIA IDSA Industrial Design Chair - for this last presentation in the "Young Artists Series", Dan speaks on "Innovations in Art and Design". Dan
explains he graduated from CIA in 1991 and, after working here until1994
(including for Greenlee-Hess), he spent 10 years in Boston, where he worked
up the Industrial Design industry to design director - his job then
included hiring young designers. In 2003 he was hired back to Cleveland as CIA
ID Chair, and he is redesigning the program to prepare students to thrive in
the design world he knows from the inside and out, in NEO and beyond.

The subject of his talk is "Old ideas that have an
opportunity for a new life". One theme for artists giving an old idea new
life is "Artists and designers must speak to the user/viewer/consumer,
rather than just to themselves".

To illustrate this concept, he speaks of reading a
children's book with his 2-year-old son, who was able to differentiate the
"mom" and "dad" animal characters from numerous subtle
visual indicators - size, eyelashes, physical relationships to child
characters. Humans have amazing visual acuity - artists may learn much by
realizing what others see in the world and in their design and art.

Second changing old idea is artist finds a gallery and sells there
- new idea is "Artists as entrepreneurs, who redefine their art and its
distribution". He points to Derek Hess, the successful local design,
illustration and fine artist who, as a CIA student, started creating music
posters for the Euclid Tavern and quickly leveraged that to launch his art
career and many businesses, including concert promotion and clothing - based on
efficient global distribution - 90% of this market is based on WWW. In the
process, the Louvre recognized his work as significant and has bought pieces
for their collection.

Third changing old idea is that designers work for or start design
firms to design products for other businesses, whereas increasingly designers invent products which they then build businesses to commercialize - artists and
designers as agents for change - the inventors and innovators. Dan speaks of going to Ikea and seeing cars in the lot from eight different states, and
inside he found products from developed countries that leverage great design -
people didn't come for WalMart-low-prices but for high design, and that pays
well and has great economic value for all.

Thus, Dan sees a Northeast Ohio where our great
designers, like from the CIA, design high end, innovative products, which are manufactured by
our great manufacturing and assembly industries, and commercialized in many
ways, including through outlets like Ikea (and WalMart), over the Internet, and
ideally through an innovative design center in one of our great old
underutilized buildings downtown - e.g. May Co., Higbees buildings. Dan
sees NEO supporting talented designers coming up with great products that are built by small
local machinists - rather than pursuing big-box retailers and factories building mass market
products. Our designers should become masters building great niche products for design-oriented
markets, and doing that all the time here in NEO... become hub for such culture
change... the New Milan.

Dan asks us to consider his 2 and 4 year old kids sitting
in front of the Jackson Pollock painting at the Cleveland Museum and sharing what
they see - the 4 year old see effervescent soda pop - the two year old sees
sharks swimming in pop - together they decide it is sharks swimming in a wild
ocean. They see order in abstract information. Einstein did the same when he
looked at light shining on a pond and thought about the order of light and
physics at play. If we help young people find order in abstract information,
that will enhance the innovation economy - CIA is capable to lead that type of

Dan's vision is that artists and designers here speak to
the user/viewer/consumer, act as entrepreneurs, redefine art and its
distribution, and drive change as leaders of our economy. There is no greater
concentration of artistic energy anywhere else than is found at the CIA - we
can be world-leaders.

Q. What is the response Dan is getting to his
observations and ideas? A. All leaders in government and industry are very

Q. What is delaying progress? A. Lack of
"bandwidth" - not able to share vision broadly and keep visible - he
is presenting his vision over and over.

I point out CIA Senior Joe Stanley is using Internet to
share his work and vision. Dan points out Hess broke models. "We" all
need to break old models - be innovative - do new things new ways.