Surya Vanka is the founder of Authentic Design, Chair-elect of Industrial Designers Society of America, and founding advisor of the Global Impact Collective. He was previously director of user experience at Microsoft, a tenured design professor of industrial design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study.
Surya has helped advance the state-of-art of industrial design in its broadest sense across multiple sub-disciplines: he chaired discipline-transforming international conferences for IDSA (IDSA 50th Anniversary Conference), IXDA (Interaction Week 2019), and DMI (DMI International Conference 2011). He has developed two widely used bodies of industrial design knowledge that have been in use for two decades: “MaterialTool: Compendium of Materials and Processes for Industrial Design” and “ColorTool: International Color Guide”. He created the Design Swarms method and platform which is now used in business, non-profit, and education worldwide. Surya helped create the Design Council Double Diamond and the DMI Design Value Framework.
At Microsoft, Surya led the corporate design excellence team for over a decade and helped build a global design community of over 1000 designers across multiple centers in the United States, and in China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, India, Ireland, Israel, and Japan. He was president of the Seattle Design Festival, the largest citizen- powered design festival in the USA and helped it to grow by 10X from 3,000 to 30,000 participants and drove a vision of unleashing the design thinker in every Seattle resident to take on civic challenges.
Surya led the World Design Organization’s global Chief Design Officer consortium of top industrial design leaders across the world. He teaches in the iDesign executive education program of the Confederation of Indian Industries. Surya has served as president of the board of Design in Public and on the advisory boards of DMI and Seattle Interactive. He serves on international juries such as Singapore Design Mark, Grand Prix Du Design, Cradle to Cradle and India Design Excellence Awards. He is a partner in the Diversify by Design, a coalition of program partners, NGOs, grassroots organizations, corporations, agencies, associations, education institutions, and individuals with a shared goal of breaking down racial inequities throughout the design discipline. Surya led the Imagine Cup Design Competition, the world’s largest student design competition, and has taught design on every continent but Antarctica.
In addition to industry design awards, he has been nominated for the Smithsonian National Design Award, received The Ohio State University Distinguished Design Alumnus Award, Microsoft Engineering Best Practice Award, Accessibility Achievement Award, and won top design speaker awards three times. Surya’s work is featured in forums like TEDx, Form, Domus, I.D., Design Council, WIRED, Interactions, BBC, and NPR.