College for Creative Studies: Product Design


Gordon Stannis

Twisthink design “technology” strategy

Director of Design & Strategy

As co-founder and Director of Design and Strategy at Twisthink (TT), Gordon Stannis uses what he learned as a student at the College for Creative Studies to partner with clients in achieving commercial success through innovation.

Twisthink’s role is to conceive of strategies, products and services that surpass those of their clients’ competitors.

“At TT, we thrive on competition,” said Stannis. “As a team, we foster friendly competition in all sorts of fun, simple ways via company sponsored mountain bike rides, 5 and 15K races, hockey games, but always with a healthy spirit. As evidence of this trait, we have a Red Wings jersey hanging in our lobby, four paddleboards suspended from the rafters, a half dozen mountain bikes in the foyer and two kayaks ‘comfortably’ hanging above a conference space. We love sport, play, competition and even call our round, centralized meeting space ‘center court.’ Through this approach, we strengthen the spirit of TEAM that is so important to us. 

“We love to work hard, move fast and enjoy partnering with our clients to explore new territory. We also consider ourselves professional bridge builders (to new market opportunities) and mountain guides (to take clients on a journey that’s new to them). The words ‘team,’ ‘bridgebuilder’ and ‘guide’ (leadership) have great meaning within our firm.”

Twisthink is based in Holland, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Michigan two hours from Chicago. The firm of 25+ was honored as one of the Companies To Watch in Michigan by the Edward Lowe Foundation, has generated over 100 patents for its diverse global clients and is the recipient of Red Dot, Spark, IDEA and other international Design Awards in recognition of thought excellence. Members of the firm have spoken on the topic of design and innovation locally, regionally and internationally. 

“As a firm, Twisthink cannot simply focus on satisfying only a client’s present needs; that’s never good enough,” Stannis explained. “The team must predict and design for future realities as well.  That expectation is inherent.

“Fundamentally, industrial designers live in futures—various futures. Some live in the near term future, some way out and some in between. But fundamentally, our minds are innately fixated on some (alternate) time horizon – not today."

"CCS helped teach me the ability to, and value of, connecting the following dots: To see and understand emerging patterns in the way we live (and aspire to live)."

"I was taught to have a realistic understanding of technology trends and capabilities, to understand business obstacles and how to scale them, the ability to see markets and anticipate emerging unmet needs and to generate attractive and useful solutions and to do all of this collaboratively—with a great team. Because nothing gets done without a great team!”

Twisthink combines the art of technology with the science of design to meet their clients' diverse, challenging and ever changing needs. In fact they went so far as to officially trademark the phrase “the science of Design – the art of Technology” nearly 10 years ago. The firm is tasked with a broad range of projects from simple, stand alone products within a discrete portfolio to complex digital ecosystems conceived, designed and engineered from the ground up. The later often contain leading edge technologies and brand new techniques derived from hundreds of hours of literal research and development (R&D) at TT. 

“That’s what makes TT so special,” said Stannis. “We literally do R&D AND ID. Lots of firms naively parrot the same claim without fully realizing what they are truly saying. Or in that case…not so truly. We do. We have a staff of 20 engineers, some with dual degrees, most of them EEs. That’s very unique, and powerful for our clients.” 

Members of Twisthink’s unique team (they humbly call themselves BTP: Best Team on the Planet!) collaborate with companies serving the home, transportation, workplace, healthcare, consumer electronics, sport and other markets.

"Our team can literally design each and every touchpoint in the UX (User Experience) of a product – big or small,” said Stannis  “It’s often quite hard work, but it’s exciting! We’re good at it, and we enjoy it.”