College for Creative Studies: Product Design


Marianne Grisdale


Vice President/Creative Director

Companies thrive on innovation. That’s why knowledgeable industrial design professionals like TEAMS Vice President/Creative Director Marianne Grisdale is highly valued as a designer and a leader.

Companies thrive on innovation. That’s why knowledgeable industrial design professionals like TEAMS Vice President/Creative Director Marianne Grisdale is highly valued as a designer and a leader.

Grisdale was recently promoted as vice president/creative director at TEAMS, a global industrial design firm with offices in Chicago, Belgrade, Esslingen, Hamburg and Shanghai. She oversees sales/sales support, writing proposals, managing clients, managing projects, tracking financials, design direction, some design ideas, strategizing projects and presentations, managing and conducting research (qualitative) and hiring/HR duties.

“I love the variety that my job offers,” said Grisdale. “While I don't directly design as much as I once did, even most of my non-design responsibilities use an astounding amount of the design skills I learned at CCS and on the job.

“In early June, I'll be going to a two-day workshop on experience design that we are hosting internally to work on unifying our design/research services globally. In the past, TEAMS took a more informal approach to conducting research. Recently, I introduced a more formal approach—one that is more anthropological and allows for greater consistency. In classes taught by Dr. Dorothy Kostuch (aka Dr. Dot) and Bill Porter, we investigated how historical events, politics, fashion and intrigue were linked to trends in design and art. This showed me the importance of understanding the past and present in order to more accurately predict where the future will lead, and I began to recognize what a valuable tool ethnographic research can be for designers.

“I'll be sharing our new approach with colleagues and examining how to apply this method across a variety of projects. Globally, we are doing more and more projects that combine hardware, web, and mobile user experiences, so continuity is very important especially since many of our clients are working with three of our offices at once.”

Prior to accepting a position at TEAMS, Grisdale worked as a senior industrial designer and project manager for Herbst LaZar Bell (HLB), a design strategy and development consultancy in Chicago. There she gained extensive experience designing houseware, personal care and electronic products. She has led and been involved with projects for many large organizations including SC Johnson, Unilever, Whirlpool, Werner Ladder, Carrier Corporation, Abbott Laboratories, Dell, Johnson Controls, Gillette, Motorola, and Agilent among others.

“I’ve worked on a broad spectrum of accounts,” Grisdale explained. “Some have been fun, smaller projects that just involved a little more styling. But I’ve also worked with clients interested in doing tremendous amounts of research. For example, I traveled the world to study parents’ diapering patterns…

“In the end, you usually feel proud to see your product out in the marketplace—especially if you worked hard on it and it looks good. But there are times when clients forego the full design process or simply try to imitate their competitors without conducting research. When this happens, there’s often no where for the product to go—no future for it. It’s times like these when you sort of cringe.”

In addition to her work with TEAMS, Grisdale has taken on leadership positions in the Chicago chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) as well as at the national level. This past term, she was elected by her peers to serve on the executive board as the IDSA National Secretary/Treasurer.

“Our board has overseen implementation of some rather large changes within the organization,” Grisdale explained. “I ran for election because I knew that IDSA, like many other organizations, was in desperate need of membership growth. Coming in at a time when the demise of IDSA was a real possibility seemed like a great challenge and opportunity. So, I am loving the chance to mold the organization into something new that is more relevant to today's designers. We’ve already received positive feedback about our new direction.”

In addition to taking on new challenges, Grisdale also enjoys the opportunities that she’s had to mentor new designers as part of IDSA. She first recognized the significance of having strong mentors as a student at CCS.

“I know firsthand how inspiring it can be to receive guidance from someone familiar with the industry,” she said.

“While I was a student, I was fortunate to have instructors, who were also working professionals, mentoring me through the program. I was prepared for the environment I encountered after graduation because of the skills I learned from them…"

“Clyde Foles probably had the biggest influence on me during my time at CCS. He always had faith in me and was supportive even in the beginning when I was struggling. There were very few women at the time, and I felt that he understood the challenges that a woman faces in an almost all-male class. Mentoring others now is my way of repaying those who mentored me.”