By: Robert Grace
August 19, 2013
I'm delighted this week to introduce a feature I have long wanted to include in Plastics News. Gaylon White and I first crossed paths some 30 years ago, though we didn't even know it until about two decades later.
In the mid-1980s I was in London editing European Rubber Journal. I invited Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. CEO Bob Mercer to submit a column to discuss and defend Goodyear's involvement in a South Africa still racially divided by apartheid. He accepted and submitted an eloquent column that we published.
Years later, at an Industrial Designers Society of America reception in California, I got to speaking with Gaylon, who then was director of design programs with Eastman Chemical Co. It was that evening I learned that Gaylon — a former newspaperman and sportswriter — had been Mercer's speechwriter back in the mid-80s and had, in fact, written the column in question. Small world, as they say.
In March 2004, under Gaylon's leadership, Eastman launched the award-winning Eastman Innovation Lab website (www.EastmanInnovationLab.com) for designers and brand owners. In fall 2009, the lab introduced a highly acclaimed "Design Insights" video series, further burnishing Eastman's strong reputation within the design community.
Gaylon announced he would retire from Eastman early in 2012. So in September 2011 in New Orleans, after hosting what all knew would be his last annual Eastman breakfast seminar at IDSA's big international conference, it was truly remarkable to see a ballroom of several hundred designers and educators give Gaylon a lengthy standing ovation. Few non-designers command such respect in that community.
Gaylon is many things, but foremost he is a writer and a storyteller. So I have pestered him since he retired to become a regular contributor to Plastics News. First, he had to step back, take some time off and focus entirely on completing his project of passion — a non-fiction book about a 1956 minor-league baseball team — which he had started but never completed. The book, called The Bilko Athletic Club, is now done and about to be published. And Gaylon is ready to re-engage with his larger family, the plastics and design community.
The first of his planned series of monthly PN columns, to be
called Design Stories, is a truly special one. Gaylon interviewed the legendary Bill Moggridge, the British co-founder (in 1991) of the world-renowned IDEO design studio, in IDEO's Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters Sept. 13, 2007 — about a month before the 2,000-person Connecting '07 design conference Moggridge chaired in San Francisco.
Moggridge, who designed the first laptop computer, died last September at age 69.
Gaylon regretted that he had never gotten around to publishing that interview. But, for the purposes of this week's first Design Stories column, he dug out the old Moggridge tapes and put together the highlights for our readers.
Also, at www.plasticsnews.com/moggridge-audio, we are featuring about 23 select minutes of the audio interview, culled from their informal, 90-minute session.
Of his personal relationship with Moggridge, Gaylon noted: "He was a true gentleman — and a scholar. Most of all, he was a friend and mentor who helped guide my first steps in the design world and eventually spread the gospel of design in a company as risk-averse as a grandma who stashes money under her bed mattress."
And so, let the Design Stories begin. Told by master storyteller, Gaylon White.
Grace is PN editorial director and associate publisher.