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Design-conference book a must-have for leading U.S. design houses

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor


Deana McDonagh
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Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Industrial design professor Deana McDonagh is the editor of "IMPACT," a limited-edition, illustrated book documenting an industrial design conference held last spring at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Academic conference proceedings aren’t typically regarded as must-read page-turners. But “IMPACT,” a limited-edition, illustrated book documenting an industrial design conference held last spring at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is reportedly turning heads in the design world.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback,” said U. of I. industrial design professor Deana McDonagh, the book’s editor. “All the top design houses in the United States have contacted us (seeking copies).”

The book recaps discussions that took place during “IMPACT: The Synergy of Design, Business and Technology,” a three-day regional conference of the Industrial Design Society of America, hosted by U. of I. faculty and students last April. McDonagh said the book, designed by U. of I. art and design professors Nan Goggin and Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud, was created “to capture the Zeitgeist of that unique event.”

Contents include edited conference presentations by such noted design practitioners and observers as Larry Bell, Cat Chow, Bruce Nussbaum, Karim Rashid and Tucker Viemeister; contributions by the conference’s student organizers, Mona Haggag and Danielle Moorman; essays on design education and research by McDonagh and colleagues Benjamin Grosser, Alexander Fekete and Rob Lopez; and a bonus essay by U. of I. alumnus and motorcycle-fairing designer Craig Vetter.

“We really had some of the leading designers of our time here – people who have shaped the material landscape that you and I navigate everyday,” said McDonagh, who was convinced that what the conference participants had to say was worth repeating. And because the subject was design, the resulting publication needed to be “engaging and tactile, and had to sizzle with passion,” she said.

One reviewer who felt the passion was blogger Don Lehman, who recently lauded the book on the “industrial design supersite” Core77:

“All encompassing content, good clean layout, and a point of view make ‘IMPACT’ a book you would want to put on your design bookshelf,” Lehman wrote. “We can only hope that more industrial designers are inspired to create works like this.”

One thousand individually embossed editions were printed, with funding provided by Richard Herman, the chancellor of the Urbana campus; Charles Zukoski, vice chancellor for research; and Kathleen Conlin, the dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts.

Numbered copies of “IMPACT” can be obtained by contacting McDonagh by e-mail at, or by sending a $25 check addressed to her in care of the School of Art and Design, University of Illinois, 28 Art and Design Building, 408 E. Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820.