On Friday, February 22, the College of Engineering capped off National Engineer’s Week with a presentation by world-renowned designer and entrepreneur Mike Nuttall. Nuttall spoke on “Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurialism” as part of the Patrick J. Cunningham Jr. and Susan Ward ’80 Endowed Lecture Series. Addressing more than 300 students, faculty and visitors, Nuttall reflected on his decades in the design industry where he is known for strengthening the visual appeal of technology products to create a strategic marketing advantage for his clients.
From his formative years at the Royal College of Art in London, to his fortuitous move to San Francisco in 1980, Nuttall described his successes and failures in this highly competitive business. In 1983, just as Silicon Valley began its skyrocketing growth, Nuttall opened his firm Matrix which ultimately won more than 20 design awards. Recognized for his signature simplicity and clean lines, Nuttall established himself as a cutting-edge technology designer, particularly within the burgeoning personal computer industry. Among his “firsts” were designing a computer with color, producing a computer that went into space with NASA, and designing the original Microsoft mouse, which older audience members clearly remembered. It was during the development of this best-selling product that Matrix began working with David Kelley Design and ID Two, founded by his best friend and mentor, Britain's Bill Moggridge. The 1991 merger of the three companies established the designing giant IDEO, where Nuttall’s development efforts resulted in many successful computer, consumer and medical products for major corporations in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
From 1996 to 2001, Nuttall managed IDEO Ventures, a multimillion-dollar internal venture capital fund which made strategic equity and royalty investments in IDEO’s client partners. Since leaving the company in 2006 he has been involved in a variety of design consulting and entrepreneurial activities in Silicon Valley, United Kingdom and China. He particularly enjoys working with start-up companies, and his current project involves teaming up with singer-songwriter Neil Young to develop an affordable high quality digital music player superior to the MP3.