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GEL 2008: Day 2, Session 3 “Make”

[Also check out other GEL 2008 posts: Day 1; Day 2, Session 1 "Connect"; Day 2, Session 2 "Twist"; Day 2, Session 4 "Success"]

Session 3: Make

Speakers: Alex Lee, Terry Border, Sam Brown, Bill Gurstelle, Rhett and Link

Alex Lee, President of OXO

  • OXO created by a man who needed more comfortable cooking utensils for his wife who had arthritis. Realized they can be used widely
  • People had just accepted that vegetable peelers were uncomfortable to use. OXO founder went to Smart Design and created new peeler
  • OXO’s goal is to design products that are easy and comfortable to use by the largest population possible
  • North Coast Medical helps OXO to design products that will work even for people with low motor skills
  • “Good OXO experience” ergonomic, thought provoking aesthetics (honest language, universal design). Creates “aha! moment”
  • OXO’s salad spinner can be used with one hand. If you identify the problems and frame the q’s the right way, there are few answers
  • Solutions are very easy once you do the research. User observation reveals problems that people don’t even know they have
  • Product suggestions straight from customers — most are redundant, but every now and then they come across a gem
  • OXO’s mango divider: “for some reason was very popular with the women in the office”
  • 2 toy designers sent in prototype, led to this: http://tinyurl.com/455qfp My favorite of OXO’s products. Sold 2 mil units in 18 mos
  • When asked about their measuring cup, ppl said that only problem was that it was heavy and breakable, but watching them revealed they were bending down to be eye-level with the counter over and over again to get the measurement right. Unaware of the problem

Terry Border, wire sculptor

Terry used to be a commercial photographer, “and I wasn’t even that good.” He had to translate other people’s ideas, but thought he could do better. So he started making these:

Sam Brown, artist of Exploding Dog fame

  • Sam spoke at the first GEL
  • Check out his book Amazing Rain — it makes people cry
  • He asked for a suggestion from the audience, someone yelled out “Don’t eat that,” and drew this on the spot:

Bill Gurstelle, contributing editor of MAKE Magazine

“What we make industrially, digitally is profitable. But what we make for ourselves with our hands is sublime”

Rhett & Link, Comedians


The guys showed the music video for their Fireworks Song (see below), sang their ode to Wal-Mart, and wrote a song on the fly about “good experience.” At the end of the day, they came back on stage to perform their Facebook song, absolutely hilarious!

NOTE: You can see all my photos of the conference or check out the photos by professional photographer Gene Driskell.

[Also check out other GEL 2008 posts: Day 1; Day 2, Session 1 "Connect"; Day 2, Session 2 "Twist"; Day 2, Session 4 "Success"]

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