College for Creative Studies: Product Design


Chad Lockart

Trek Bicycles

Industrial Designer

Since the bicycle was first introduced in 19th century Europe, its concept has remained simple - a frame attached to two wheels powered by pedals and navigated by handlebars. What has changed is the bicyclist.

Now it's up to manufacturers to make sure their products are meeting the needs of the evolving market. Design is more important than ever.

"I see bicycle design encompassing a more comprehensive view of the activity itself, meaning, that to be successful in the future, bicycle companies will have to go well beyond simply providing a bicycle to be a success," said Chad Lockart, a senior industrial designer at Trek Bicycle Corporation near Madison, Wis.

"As money is put toward safer bicycle routes and advocacy, more people will rely on bicycles as a reliable means of transportation and this will open up great design possibilities. Beyond the practical side of commuting there will be more and more refinement based on specific uses and sports such as triathlons, park/dirtjumping, road racing, training tools, etc. Each category will need to meet very specific design criteria and usage parameters. The one size fits all mentality is a thing of the past."

Lockart's design career is rooted in the foundation he received through the product design program at CCS.

"I developed close working relationships with many of my instructors."

"The most influential was Keith Vreeland," said Lockart. "The information and processes he taught have made my career what it is today. He alone was worth the price of CCS."

After graduation, Lockart began working at Hewlett-Packard in Vancouver, Wash., then moved on to Insight Product Development in Chicago and subsequently started a successful freelance business. Through connections he established in the industry as an intern, he learned that Trek was looking for designers. He discovered that the company was a perfect fit.

Since starting at Trek, Lockart has designed bicycles, components and related sporting goods for Trek, Gary Fisher, LeMond, Klein, Villager, Diamant and Bontrager Cycling brands. He serves in a leadership role as lead designer completing hands on tasks from product planning, project task management, user research and design through production computer-aided design (CAD).

"Currently I am serving as the lead industrial designer for the pavement team designing bicycles for urban and suburban use," Lockart said. "My best work tends to be research that drives design development. It is primarily user-centered design practices/methods that influence my design decisions as does a firm belief in the development process.

"At Trek, we truly believe that great products come from understanding the user and immersing ourselves in the user markets (be the user). Understanding how a person or group uses a thing or wants to use a thing is key to developing successful products...

"I am also a firm believer in design as communication. If your message does not resonate with the user and their aspirations, then in my opinion you aren't designing. You are creating an art object. There is a place for art objects but when working with a team that develops product for a bunch of different brands, uses and user groups, you have to be sensitive and knowledgeable about what you are communicating with design and why - whether that is the difference in vibe between different brands or celebrating the technology and engineering of the bicycle."