In 1978, after receiving master's degree from Stanford's product design program, David Kelley started up his own company David Kelley Design. It was a time when most consulting firms consisted of specialists, with technological companies lacking clear access to a general product development firm. And Kelley was aware of that through his part-time consulting experience. So in 1991, when David Kelley Design merged with ID Two and Matrix forming the new company IDEO and Kelley as chief executive of the new firm, IDEO offered its customers design version of "concurrent engineering" which was a mix of art and engineering in order to produce aesthetically and technically pleasing and competent products.
IDEO offered its clients all services that they needed to design, develop and manufacture new products: mechanical and electrical engineering, industrial design, ergonomics, information technology, prototype machining, and cognitive psychology. And although practicing concurrent engineering was very hard in devices involving compact and complex design, IDEO was always ready for such challenges. IDEO had major clients like Apple Computer, AT&T, Samsung, Philips, Amtrak, Steelcase, Baxter International, and NEC Corp. In the 1990s, IDEO won more industry awards than any other design firm. Company employed over 300 staff and held design centers in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Palo Alto, Grand Rapids, New York, Milan, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo. And in 1996 IDEO's annual revenues reached $40-50 million.
Design Philosophy and Culture.
IDEO's design philosophy was the role of prototyping. Frequent prototyping was the most important way for communicating with clients, marketers, experts and end users, it also made sure that everyone was imagining the same design during discussions about a product. So IDEO offices were staffed by highly skilled machinists to rapidly produce simple and sophisticated prototypes.