2012  September 11

Remembering Bill Moggridge

Design pioneer Bill Moggridge passed away recently. Luckily there are a couple collections of stories about Bill from Julie Lasky and Linda Tischler so those that didn’t know Bill can know him better. I shared the following tribute with both Julie and Linda:

Around five years ago I invited Bill to give a talk at the Media Lab. It was around the time that his book on interaction design just came out. Most people who are fans of that book would be surprised to learn that all the videos for that book were shot by Bill himself. And I recall seeing Bill a few years prior when he interviewed me for that book -- I asked Bill where his video crew was. He said, “It’s me. And I’m also the audio person and the make up person. So can you please lean forward so I can work on the shine on your forehead with my makeup kit?”

I never expected such an entourageless luminary -- as a co-founder of IDEO and as a patriarch of the design field, Bill’s unexpected humility and curiosity has stuck with me ever since. So when Bill prepared to give his talk at MIT, when he asked a question I didn’t expect ... I knew it was for a good reason, and so I made it work. He asked with his patent, knightly accented English, “I’ll need an extra audio feed.”

How did Bill use it? To power his own deejaying of background music for the various parts of his lecture. It was elegant and awesome. I’d never seen anything like it before. And I am sad that I won’t see it again. Rest in peace, Bill. We’ll keep the deejaying going.

It’s sad for the world to lose Bill. He was like a mixture of Gandalf the Grey and Jay-Z. Bill cofounded the global design consultancy IDEO with David Kelley — who I recorded a couple of years ago in this post. -JM

Bill Moggridge: “If there’s a simple, easy design principle that binds everything together, it’s probably about starting with the people.”

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