Marty Gage, IDSA | lextant
Marty merged his design research firm, Rocket Surgery, with lextant in 2006. This merger was the logical extension of a long collaboration with lextant’s President and Founder, Chris Rockwell. Marty is the Vice President of the Design Research Practice at lextant. Marty founded Rocket Surgery in 2002, after having cofounded the research firm SonicRim in 1999. Previously he practiced as a member of the research team at Fitch Inc. for 10 years, where he helped to establish Fitch as a leader in design research.
For two decades Marty Gage has pioneered participatory design techniques. He has established that user involvement at the earliest stages of the development process provides unprecedented insight for designers, engineers and marketers. Using multi-sensory toolkits along with state-of-the-art ethnography, he provides creative fuel for design firms, engineering firms, and corporate design teams
internationally. His intimate experience with creative teams and his understanding of the design process allow him to turn research findings into simple, actionable design criteria and opportunities. His body of work crosses industrial and consumer product categories encompassing subject matter as diverse as weapons systems and baby diapers.
Marty has won numerous design awards and has published widely on design research, including a chapter on participatory design research methods in the book, Human Factors Testing and Evaluation Methods. He has served on the Business Week-sponsored Industrial Design Excellence Awards jury, evaluating the research entries in particular, and is frequently asked to speak at design conferences and schools such as The College of Creative Studies, The Cranbrook Academy, The Ohio State University and The Savannah College of Art & Design. Marty holds his BA in Psychology from Hendrix College and earned his MS in Human Factors Psychology from Wright State University.
"Prior to the popularity of ethnography, design research was primarily focused on testing concepts to determine user acceptance of an idea or to select a direction for refinement. Concept testing is often overlooked in design research discussions yet continues to be the biggest portion of research conducted today. It is time to recognize that businesses tend to require testing and that it is the territory of market research. However, the way that it is typically practiced has a tendency to smother innovation.
By the end of this new decade we will have witnessed an explosion in the world of design research. This presents an opportunity to evolve what we think of as design research, how we talk about design research and how we practice design research."
Excerpted from Beyond Ethnography: Users Take the Lead
Innovation, Spring 2010.