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David Gresham: Director of Design, Steelcase
David Gresham is vice president of design for Steelcase, Inc., Michigan's largest designer and manufacturer of products used to create high performance work environments, including office furniture, work stations and related services.The company is headquartered in Grand Rapids.His job is to insure design continuity of all North America products and for design direction for seating, systems, storage and architectural products.His previous role at Steelcase was as director of product design.He has designed products for a number of prestigious companies including Kodak, Hitachi, Xerox, AT&T, Digital, Mitsubishi, NCR, Thermos, Harman International and Iomega.He was principal and co-founder of Design Logic, a Chicago based product development/advance research firm.The work produced at Design Logic is widely regarded in the design community as reshaping the ideas of design.The influence of this work is still evident in design direction today.Throughout his career, David has been recognized by numerous design organizations for expanding the boundaries of traditional product design.Many of the products he has designed are in the permanent collections of museums and have been featured in international design publications.He has lectured extensively on design in the U.S., Europe and Asia.Gresham has bachelor of science in industrial design from Georgia Institute of Technology and his master of fine arts in design from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills.He is a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America and the American Center for Design.
David Gresham has been named director of industrial design for Steelcase , Inc. , Grand Rapids , MI.Gresham will oversee Steelcase North America product design for seating , systems and storage.He also will provide industrial design direction on product development projects across the Steelcase brand.
The Leap's primary evangelists are Ken Tameling, the project's coordinator, and David Gresham, Steelcase's head of design.
Gresham, 43, comes across like the canny, ring-wise design veteran, while the 39-year-old Tameling, with his taut gestures and bright blue eyes, is the team spark plug. Gresham and Tameling walk me through the chugging heart of the plant, where they proudly show American industrial might in action. So here is a fascinating David versus Goliath story. David Gresham isn't among them. "A chair is magical and wonderful because it can be sort of an icon of intent, an icon of vision," he says, growing happy and intense. "At its best, it transcends being just two physical planes in relation to each other, which you then perch your buttocks on to take X amount of load off your legs. A chair becomes an outlet of self-expression; it becomes about our perception of ourselves. He really isn't among them. Nor is Niels Diffrient, though Diffrient is a more reserved man than Gresham, and his ruminations are more pragmatic. Gresham and Diffrient aren't just two people who feel a certain way about chairs-they're also the hopeful fathers of a couple of new ones. Gresham directs the design efforts of Steelcase, the largest manufacturer of office furniture in the world. His chair, eight years and $35 million in the making, is called the Leap. With these chairs, Gresham and Diffrient are pointed toward the same customers (big companies, the bigger the better) and the same approval from the design community. Gresham is a man who has a collection of 120 pieces of twentieth-century seating in his two houses and one apartment. His intention for the Leap was to announce to everyone, not least of all the design community, that there's a new Steelcase in town. "At the end of the day," he says, "our goal was to provide some level of delight, some level of I want." The two industry Goliaths also face competition from an unlikely David: Humanscale. Leap's design team, led by Steelcase's head of industrial design David Gresham and George Simmons from outside design firm IDEO, addressed this issue by providing independent controls for the upper and lower back to mimic the way the spine changes shape.