Dr. Dan with a Masters and a Ph.D. in Ergonomics and Biomechanics, based his career on the idea that design should focus on people, not things. His work has received numerous design awards and has been selected for national and international exhibits. In 1977, invited to work with the Eliot Noyes studio, Dan became the junior member of a design team that helped IBM conceive how a computer could possibly fit into a home. From 1981 to 1990 he worked with Smart Design, a company he helped establish. His work on OXO Good Grips kitchen tools became a symbol of products designed to work for everyone.
The interface he created for XM/Sirius established the standard for satellite radio in the US. Dan played a key role in conceiving SmartGauge, an instrument cluster for Ford’s 2010 hybrids designed to influence driving behavior and save fuel – an innovation for the auto industry.
"I'm sometimes surprised how some others think, or limit their thinking, as if following some invisible rules or guidelines."
If you could be rich with one thing, what would it be?
I am continually amazed by people who can get in front of an audience and perform – whether it's singing, playing an instrument, acting, dancing, whatever. It would be that, a desire to have the talent, confidence and focus to perform. I can do that when speaking or lecturing, but that's different. (Maybe it's just my inner rock star coming out.)
What do you have that you think the world should too?
I'm pretty good at making connections, sometimes abstract, and thinking wide when approaching problems or coming up with ideas. I'm not sure this is something that we are automatically born with, it's a learned trait. Or maybe we are born with it and it's driven out of us at an early age, the challenge is to retain it.
Making connections helps when designing just about anything, or when looking to innovate or to be at least somewhat disruptive. In high school I was good at, and interested in, both art and science. I was lucky because school systems tend to channel us in one direction or another. I pursued both. That may have helped. It also may stem from a tendency I have to question everything, likely the result of a 1960s radical attitude.
I certainly don't think I'm alone in doing this, but I'm sometimes surprised how some others think, or limit their thinking, as if following some invisible rules or guidelines.