Thomas Overthun

Thursday, March 15th, 7:00 – 9:30pm



Consumer Experience and the IDEO Innovation Process

In the Duncan Anderson Design Department Gallery at California State University, Long Beach

Since 1993, Thomas Overthun has been an associate partner and the director for IDEO’s Consumer Experience Design practice. Understanding human behavior is the most important factor that influences his design process and, after having considered the many facets of the emerging insights, following his own instincts. Once the design is determined, the quality of craftsmanship on a hand-made or industrial level is key.

His most memorable experience as a designer is one that happened over ten years ago and one that has gained in relevance in recent times. A children’s toothbrush he designed, with every best intention to make his contribution to the betterment of the human condition through design, was dropped on his desk, all bleached and worn and encrusted with sand. It had washed up on a remote beach in Baja California in front of a friend of his who went there to seek unspoiled nature and wild life.

Overthun has in the past managed a group of seven designers and now directs large design programs at IDEO. His expertise is in the areas of contract furniture and seating, office and consumer electronics, kitchen tools and appliances, personal care and sports products. Clients include Audible, Brooks England, Cisco, Eastman, fizik, Microsoft, National Panasonic, Oral B, Proctor & Gamble, Selle Royal, Steelcase, Western Digital and Zyliss Switzerland.

Overthun’s work has received Gold and Silver IDEAs® as well as several iF and Red Dot awards. His products have been exhibited at the Chicago Atheneum and the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City and featured in publication including BusinessWeek, ID international, Axis, Frankfurter, Allgemeine and GQ magazine.

Overthun has a bachelor’s in industrial design from the University of Wuppertal, Germany.