Graduate Program Speakers

  1. Ralph Gilles
  2. Ezio Manzini
  3. Mark T. Spencer
  4. Rick Valicenti
  5. RitaSue Siegel
  6. Christopher Pullman
  7. April Greiman
  8. Antonio Bonecchi
  9. Ian Stuart Callum
  10. Niels Diffrient
  11. Scott Robertson
  12. Kyle Cooper
  13. Dan Pitera
  14. Edward T. Welburn, Jr.
  15. Sydney Jay Mead
  16. Marco Susani
  17. Tucker Viemeister
  18. Daria Cantu

Ralph Gilles

President and Chief Executive Officer, Dodge Car Brand, Chrysler Group LLC
Senior Vice President-Product Design, Chrysler Group LLC

Ralph V. Gilles was appointed president and chief executive officer, Dodge Car Brand, Chrysler Group LLC, October 2009, with full profit and loss responsibility for the Dodge car product portfolio. He continues to lead Product Design as senior vice president, a position he was named to in June 2009.

Previously, he was named vice president of Design on Sept. 1, 2008. Since first joining the former Chrysler Corporation in 1992 as a designer, Gilles has put his extensive academic background in industrial design and business administration to use, holding various positions within the company, including:

  • 2009, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dodge Car Brand, and Senior Vice President – Product Design, Chrysler Group LLC
  • 2009, Senior Vice President – Product Design
  • 2008, Vice President – Design, Chrysler LLC
  • 2006, Vice President – Jeep/Truck, Color and Trim Studios, and Specialty Vehicles, Chrysler Group, DaimlerChrysler
  • 2005, Director – Truck Exterior/Interior Design Studio
  • 2001, Director – Design Office, Large Car Studio, Family Vehicles
  • 1999, Senior Manager – Design Office, Studio 3
  • 1998, Manager – Design Office, Jeep Interiors, Chrysler Corporation
  • 1992, Designer – Design Office

Gilles is extremely active inside and outside the company. He serves as the executive sponsor of the Chrysler African American Network (CAAN) in addition to playing a leading role with The Chrysler Global Diversity Council. He also serves on the boards of The Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich. and the Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital Regional Medical Center in Pontiac, Mich. At his alma mater, The College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Gilles serves on the advisory board of the Transportation Design Department and on the CCS Capital Committee.

An avid car enthusiast who enjoys spending time at the track, go-karting and watching Formula 1 auto racing, Gilles has participated in the Targa Newfoundland Rally and the Car and Driver One Lap of America. In addition, he has frequently served as a judge at Pebble Beach, Meadow Brook and Cranbrook Concours events, along with the EyesOn Design car show.

Gilles has earned numerous academic and industry awards, including the Michigan State University Eli Broad Graduate School of Management Young Alumni Achievement Award, The Automotive Hall of Fame Young Leadership & Excellence Award, NV Magazine Innovation Award, Black Engineer of the Year President's Award and N'Digo Foundation N'Design Award.

He holds a Master of Business Administration from Michigan State University (2002) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in industrial design from CCS (1992).

Gilles was born in New York City.

Ezio Manzini

Leading expert on social innovation and sustainable design

Ezio Manzini is professor of Industrial Design and coordinator of the doctorate in Design at the Politecnico di Milano. He is director of the university's Unit of Research Design and Innovation for Sustainability. Currently, Manzini's work focuses on the coordination of an international network called DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability).

With funding from the European Commission, Manzini has conducted several studies for Emerging User Demands for Sustainability, an international consortium of universities and research centers. These results were produced as research for programs in China, India, Brazil and Africa.

Manzini has received honorary doctorates in fine arts from The New School of New York, Goldsmiths College and University of London, and is an honorary professor at the Glasgow School of Art as well. He is a member of the advisory board at the Technical University of Eindhoven and a fellow at the University of Melbourne's Australian Centre for Science, Innovation and Society.

Mark T. Spencer

Head of Dodge/Ram Brand Communications for Chrysler LLC

In this position, Mark Spencer is responsible for establishing brand plans, priorities and key messages for the Dodge and Ram brands. He is also responsible for monitoring and improving brand health and defining brand product attributes. In addition, he develops brand marketing partnerships and alliances to promote and extend the reach of the Dodge and Ram brands. Prior to this position, Spencer was senior manager, Dodge Brand Strategy. He has held various sales and marketing positions throughout the Chrysler organization in U.S. and international markets. 

Rick Valicenti

Founder of Thirst

Rick Valicenti has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University, and an Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Iowa. He has juried countless design awards, including the President's Design Awards, National Endowment for the Arts. His work is included in the permanent collection of The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; has been featured, critiqued and lauded in design publications worldwide; and has garnered awards from AR100, Graphis, CA, Print, Step, New York Art Directors Club, ACD100, Tokyo Art Directors and ID magazine, among others. He has lectured extensively and exhibited his work around the world. He is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), has served as president of the Society of Typographic Art and was awarded the AIGA Chicago Fellows Award in 2004 for his steadfast commitment to the education of design's future generations.

RitaSue Siegel

Founder of RitaSue Siegel Resources

RitaSue Siegel is an innovator and a pioneer. After receiving her bachelor's and master's degrees in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute and serving as the school's director of placement, she founded RitaSue Siegel Resources. As president, Siegel serves as a key spokesperson for company and actively participates in business development and senior-level searches. Siegel's speaking and writing has focused on how design can enhance life, championing the designer as the people's advocate and promoting design strategy as a critical element in support of business objectives. Always an outspoken critic, her work has helped raise the standards of design education. Siegel has spoken at dozens of colleges to help graduates learn about and prepare themselves for the real world. She has served as juror for design competitions such as IDEA, Communication Arts, ID magazine and the Society of Publication Designers. RitaSue Siegel Resources (RSSR) is the consulting and advisory firm operating at the intersection of design, brand and business for more than 40 years. The firm's fundamental mission since 1969 has been to serve as trusted advisors to the design industry and to industry on design. It enables organizations to gain sustainable advantage by delivering leaders who drive the growth of their brands and businesses through innovation and design.

Christopher Pullman

AIGA Gold Medal Award Winner

Christopher Pullman received a Bachelor of Arts in history from Princeton University in 1963, enrolling the same year in a three-year graduate program in graphic design at Yale School of Art. Upon obtaining his Master of Fine Arts in 1966, he began teaching in the design program at Yale, an affiliation he continues as senior critic. For several years he was a typographer and letterpress printer for Universal Limited Art Editions on Long Island, and from 1968 to 1972 he was a consultant designer for the office of George Nelson in New York City. During this period, he also served on the original design faculty of the State University of New York at Purchase. In 1973, Pullman joined public broadcasting station WGBH, Boston, where he served as vice president for design until his retirement in 2008. In 1986 WGBH received the Design Leadership Award from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. He has lectured widely and published articles on design and television that have appeared in Communication Arts magazine, Design Quarterly, Critique, and several anthologies. He has served on the board of the Design Management Institute and the Corporate Design Foundation, reflecting his interest in the relation between design and business. He also has been a member of the national board of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the American Center for Design. In 2001, Pullman received the AIGA Gold Medal for his career as a designer and teacher.

April Greiman

Founder of April Greiman Incorporated

April Greiman is an award-winning graphic designer who is best known for her revolutionary work in the world of digital imaging. She was born in 1948 and grew up in New York City. She studied art in Switzerland at the Basel School of Design and at the Kansas City Art Institute. After graduating she moved back to New York City to work as a freelance artist until 1976, when she moved to Los Angeles. It was there that she founded her design company, April Greiman Incorporated. In 1985, she started the project that would bring her worldwide recognition. Hired by the magazine Design Quarterly, she designed a truly unique layout for the periodical: it unfolded into a single page measuring two-feet-by-six-feet. Contained on the page were both traditional photographic images and cutting-edge digital images, including a life-sized self-portrait. Since then, Greiman has worked for companies such as Esprit, Benetton, Sears, and Time-Warner. She also teaches at the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Antonio Bonecchi

Partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, Detroit

Antonio Bonecchi is a partner at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and is a member of the Firm's Global Automotive practice and co-manages the North American Automotive operations. In his capacity, he regularly advises clients in the transportation and automotive space as well as suppliers and service providers.
Bonecchi's expertise is in corporate strategy, strategic brand management and marketing. He earned a degree in business administration from the University of Parma, Italy, in 1987 and an MBA in Milan in 1991. He has 20 years of professional experience, six in consumer goods marketing and 14 in management consulting. Roland Berger Strategy Consultants is one the world's leading strategy consultancies based in Europe. Berger himself founded the company in 1967. Since, they have grown into a global network with a 2,000-strong workforce and 36 offices in 25 countries.

Ian Stuart Callum

Design Director at Jaguar Cars

Since the introduction of the Aston Martin DB7 and now the stunning new Jaguar XK, Ian Callum has been acknowledged as one of the world's foremost design talents.

Born in Dumfries, Scotland, Callum attended a course in industrial design at Glasgow School of Art, which was followed by a two-year course in automobile design at the Royal College of Art. His performance at the RCA persuaded Ford to recruit him immediately and from 1978, he spent 12 years working in the company's design studios in Britain, Japan, the United States, Australia and Germany.

He was then appointed design manager responsible for the Ghia Design Studio in Turin before he returned to the U.K. to join TWR in Oxford as chief designer in 1990. During his time with Ford, Callum worked on both the exterior and interior design of the Fiesta, the Mondeo, the Ford RS200 mid-engined sports car, the Escort RS and the Cosworth.

While he was with Ghia in Turin he played a major role in the Via design Concept for a mid-engine sports car utilizing a fiber optic lighting system and was responsible for the design and development of the Ghia Zig and Zag compact two-seater sports car and minivan vehicles.

Since his return to the U.K. in 1990, Callum has worked on TWR programs for GM's Australian subsidiary-Holden, together with projects for Aston Martin (DB7 and Vanquish), Ford (Puma), Volvo (C70), Nissan (R390 Le Mans), Mazda and Range Rover.

His brief for the DB7 was to carry through the design theme of Sir David Brown's world famous DB series, the last of which was manufactured in 1971, while taking full advantage of modern materials, components and manufacturing techniques. Callum joined Jaguar in 1999 and is responsible for the design of the Jaguar XK, launched in 2006. This is the first Jaguar that Callum has been wholly responsible for since he became design director and it has been received exceptionally well by the world media and customers. Callum was also instrumental in launching the XJ saloon, the S-TYPE face lift and he headed the design team toward the R-Coupe, RD-6, the Advanced Lightweight Coupe and other advanced design concept cars.

Callum is married and has two sons, Fraser and Alistair.

Niels Diffrient

Industrial Designer

Niels Diffrient is a preeminent American designer who holds more than 48 mechanical and design patents on furniture alone. His award-winning furniture designs have been produced by Knoll International, Sunar Hauserman, Howe Furniture Company, KI International, and currently, Humanscale Corporation. Diffrient has been published broadly in the fields of design and ergonomics, most notably the three-volume compendium Humanscale. He taught design at UCLA for eight years and at Yale University School of Architecture for two years. In addition, he has been the recipient of four research grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Graham Foundation. He has received many honors among which include: Fellow of the Industrial Designers Society of America; Honorary Doctorate from Art Center College of Design; Honorary Royal Designer from the Royal Society of Arts, London; Institute honors from the American Institute of Architects; Honorary Doctorate from the College for Creative Studies; the Daimler Chrysler Award for Innovation; the National Design award in product design from the Cooper Hewitt Museum; Legend Award from Contract Magazine and Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Interior Design Institute.

Scott Robertson

President of Design Studio Press

Scott Robertson has worked on a very wide variety of design projects, ranging from vehicle and alien designs for the Hot Wheels animated series "Battle Force Five" to theme park attractions, such as Universal Studios' "Men in Black" ride in Orlando, Florida. Some of his clients have included BMW Designworks USA, Raleigh Bicycles, Mattel Toys, Spin Master Toys, Patagonia, Scifi Lab, the feature film "Minority Report," Nike, Rock Shox, OVO, Angel Studios, Rockstar Games, Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Juice, Buena Vista Games, and Fiat, to name just a few. To date, Robertson's company, Design Studio Press, has published 28 titles on art and design. Nine of these titles have been translated into Japanese. He has authored or co-authored eight books on design and concept art.

Kyle Cooper

Co-founder of Imaginary Forces and founder of Prologue Films

Emmy Award-winner Kyle Cooper has directed and produced more than 150 main title sequences and founded two internationally recognized film design and production companies. Prologue Films, founded in 2003, was a finalist in the 2008 National Design Awards, and Imaginary Forces was co-founded in 1996. The New York Times called Cooper's title sequence for SE7EN "One of the most important design innovations of the 1990s." Details magazine credited Cooper with "Almost single-handedly revitalizing the main title sequence as an art form." Fast Company magazine named Cooper one of the 100 most creative people in business. Creativity magazine named him one of the "Top 50 biggest and best thinkers and doers from the last 20 years of advertising and consumer culture." Cooper holds the title of Royal Designer for Industry from the Royal Society of Arts in London, and earned an Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Art, where he studied independently with legendary American designer Paul Rand.

Dan Pitera

Executive Director at University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center

As a Loeb Fellow (Harvard University), Dan Pitera has examined the interaction of numerous issues impacting shrinking cities, including race, urban economics, cultural histories, and urban planning policies and the ways in which design and planning practices can respond to those issues. The German Federal Cultural Foundation has sponsored Pitera’s investigation into the conditions of various cities, and he has established himself as one of the key leaders in the “re-boot” of Detroit, working at Detroit Works Project “Long Term Planning” strongly supported by the Detroit' mayor. Pitera has also served as a past president of the Association for Community Design.

Edward T. Welburn, Jr.

General Motors Vice President of Global Design

Edward Welburn began his career at General Motors (GM) as an associate designer assigned to the advanced design studios. Today, he leads all of the company’s global design centers throughout the United States, Germany, Korea, China, Australia, Brazil and India. He and his team of over 1,800 men and women are responsible for the design development of every GM concept and production car and truck produced globally. Most recently, under Welburn’s leadership, GM designed and developed the revolutionary Chevrolet Volt, which was named North American Car of the Year and Motor Trend Car of the Year. Welburn has received honors and special recognition from Rainbow PUSH, African Americans on Wheels Magazine, the Michigan Chronicle and Ebony. In 2009, Black Enterprise Magazine named Welburn as one of the 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America.

Sydney Jay Mead

Futurist Designer/Speaker/Visionary

With transportation design as his first love, Syd Mead offers a unique blend of futurism and believability to projects consisting of any vehicle that travels from Point “A” to ‘B”—whether it’s a unicycle, show car, luxury yacht, cruise ship, the interior of a private jet, interplanetary spacecraft or “hypervans,” the subject of Mead’s latest full color illustrations. The designer began his career working at the Ford Motor Company’s Advanced Styling Studio, then moved on to illustrate books and catalogues for several large corporate clients. He launched Syd Mead Inc. in Detroit to accommodate the high caliber of offers he received both from companies in the US and in Europe. His assignments expanded to include architectural renderings (interior and exterior) as well as work for the big screen, including Star Trek: The Motion Picture, followed by, Bladerunner, TRON, 2010, Short Circuit, Aliens, Time Cop, Johnny Mnemonic, and “Mission Impossible-3.” He has also contributed to toy lines in Japan.        

Marco Susani

Principal at Marco Susani Design Studio

Susani, architect and industrial designer, is combining high technology with emotional design to establish “a more human future.” His original combination of consultant and corporate experiences gives him valuable insight on how to be most effective across both contexts. Prior to founding his own product/interaction/environment design studio, Susani was head of industrial design at Sottsass Associati Design Studio and vice president of digital design at Motorola USA. He also worked at the Olivetti Design Studio and served as director of the Domus Academy Research Center in Milan.

Susani’s work has been shown in exhibitions at Triennale di Milano, Memphis Gallery Milano, Centre Pompidou Paris, Axis Gallery Tokyo, Grand Palais Paris, and Design Museum London. He has won many prestigious awards, and written books and articles that have been featured in several international magazines. Currently, he is preparing a book on social aspects of mobile wireless communication.

Tucker Viemeister

Lab Chief at Rockwell Group

Tucker Viemeister leads the research and development teams at Rockwell Group, a New York-based firm specializing in a wide array of project types, from hospitality, cultural and healthcare to educational, product, and set design. A graduate from Pratt Institute, Viemeister has worked with several big-name clients, including Apple, Corning, Gap, J&J, Jet Blue, P&G, McDonalds, Timex, Levis, Motorola, Vodaphone, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Nike, Toyota, Viking and Kate Spade. He is on the Board of Directors of the Architectural League of New York, chair of the Rowena Reed Kostellow Fund, president of the International Design Network Foundation and a Fellow of the Industrial Designers Society of America. He has been featured in several industry and popular publications and teaches at ITP at New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts.

Daria Cantù

Research Unit Design and Innovation for Sustainability (DIS) in the department of Industrial Design and Multimedia Communication at Politecnico di Milano

Daria Cantu is using her design expertise to impact sustainability by investigating strategies for sustainable local development related to social innovation and food networks. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Politecnico di Milano. In addition to graduating cum laude with a master’s degree, Cantu gained expertise in this specialized field working as a services designer for the Domus Academy Research Centre, where she collaborated to develop the interaction and communication’s model for the new employment services system for Lombardy Region (Italy). She has taken part in research projects related to eco-mobility, food systems and collaborative services.

The MFA program invites renowned designers to speak at CCS and take part in classroom discussions. Here is a list of the designers who visited CCS during the 2009-2010 school year.

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