Inaugural DesignWisconsin event showcases state companies, industrial design

Professor’s idea takes shape with speakers, product displays in Madison
The inaugural DesignWisconsin event held recently in Madison drew about 250 industrial designers and displays from leading Wisconsin companies. / UW-Stout
​Jerry Poling | June 20, 2022

A first-of-its-kind state event, DesignWisconsin, recently highlighted the impact of industrial design and featured about a dozen leading Wisconsin companies.

Created by University of Wisconsin-Stout, DesignWisconsin was held over two days at the offices of DELVE, a product innovation firm, in Madison.

Nearly 250 people heard keynote speeches, saw displays of some of the latest and most innovative Wisconsin-made products and discussed design.

UW-Stout Associate Professor David Richter-O’Connell created DesignWisconsin and hopes to see it become an annual event.
UW-Stout Assistant Professor David Richter-O’Connell created DesignWisconsin and hopes to see it become an annual event. / UW-Stout

“It’s an event to showcase the impact of industrial design and industrial designers on Wisconsin’s culture, commerce, community and brand — past, present and future,” said David Richter-O’Connell, UW-Stout assistant professor in the School of Art and Design.

Richter-O’Connell, a former designer for Kohler Co., began planning the event pre-COVID. He was excited to see it finally come together, with the support of DELVE, UW-Stout Chancellor Katherine Frank, who spoke at the event, Stout University Foundation and the Milwaukee chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America.

UW-Stout faculty and staff providing support for the event, held May 20-21, included Maria Alm, Dave Beck, Julie Peterson and Bob Zeidel.

An operational, 3D-printed motorcycle was displayed by Brooks Stevens Inc. of Milwaukee.
An operational, 3D-printed motorcycle was displayed by Brooks Stevens Inc. of Milwaukee. / UW-Stout

“We had a fantastic turnout and displays,” Richter-O’Connell said. “It's really about creating a space and time for people to get together and re-establish ourselves as a community of makers in Wisconsin.”

David Kohler, CEO of Kohler Co., presented on the importance of product and industrial design. Kohler sells plumbing and bath fixtures, power systems, and it operates resort and golf facilities in the U.S. and internationally.

Michael Hopkins, president of Brooks Stevens Inc. in Milwaukee, also presented on design. He displayed a full-scale, operational 3D-printed motorcycle developed for Harley-Davidson. The company’s historic designs include the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide motorcycle and Lawn Boy mowers.

Five UW-Stout students served as ambassadors at the event, including, from left, Adam Nielsen, Grayson Kief and Jordan Jentsch.
Five UW-Stout students served as ambassadors at the event, including, from left, Adam Nielsen, Grayson Kief and Jordan Jentsch. / UW-Stout

Including UW-Stout’s industrial design program, an expo with state companies’ displays of their latest products featured:

  • American Skillet: skillets of all 50 states and waffle irons
  • Ashley Furniture: case goods and chairs
  • Brooks Stevens Inc.: 3D-printed motorcycle and smaller scale projects
  • Colony Brands: products from mail order and online shopping portals
  • DELVE: health care and diagnostic-related products
  • Fiskars: cutting tools for homeowners and professional landscapers
  • Kohler: sink, faucets, tiles and kitchen and bath accessories
  • Mercury Marine: prototype electric outboard motor and drive systems
  • Milwaukee Tool: power tool products
  • Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design: kiosk with student projects
  • National Presto: new cookware and a fire extinguisher concept
  • Oshkosh Corp.: scale models of vehicles from commercial and military divisions, as well as a virtual reality experience of a new commercial truck cab
  • Saris: large bike carrier designed for heavy e-bikes
  • Trek: bikes, including electric, and the B Cycle civic bike rental division, with charging stations.
     
American Skillet of Wisconsin displayed its designs of skillets in the shape of U.S. states.
American Skillet of Wisconsin displayed its designs of skillets in the shape of U.S. states. / UW-Stout

Five UW-Stout industrial design students were event ambassadors, and students also displayed their portfolios.

The IDSA presented Student Merit awards to Riley Crotteau, of UW-Stout, and Josh Horth, of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. The schools have the only industrial design programs in Wisconsin.

Crotteau, of Rice Lake, a senior, graduated May 7.

Richter-O’Connell, also the host and emcee of DesignWisconsin, already is planning next year’s event and hopes it can become an annual tradition. “We have the blueprint established for a new kind of design experience in Wisconsin,” he said.

###


Symphonic Band presents winter concert in the Great Hall Dec. 4 Featured Image

Symphonic Band presents winter concert in the Great Hall Dec. 4

Songs will depict dreamscapes, natural and historic settings
A bow on top: Three students presented scholarships from Institute of Packaging Professionals Featured Image

A bow on top: Three students presented scholarships from Institute of Packaging Professionals

Three UW-Stout packaging majors, Anna Kent, Gretchen Subialka and Annabelle Meyer, have been awarded industry scholarships for 2022-23.
School of Education’s Teach Day gives high school students opportunity to ‘explore teaching in an interactive way’ Featured Image

School of Education’s Teach Day gives high school students opportunity to ‘explore teaching in an interactive way’

Education students help to inspire others to meet the growing need of teachers in Wisconsin