IBM Design wins the 2017 Red Dot Communications Design award

David Townsend
Aug 10, 2017 · 4 min read

by David Townsend, David Schultz & Valeria Montrucchio

Update September 11, 2017: Our team was notified that we received an Honorable Mention in the General Excellence category of the Fast Company 2017 Innovation By Design Awards. We’re thrilled with the award, but also excited about many upcoming new capabilities coming to IBM Data Science Experience from our partnership with Hortonworks.

Fast Company award: [] Hortonworks partnership: []

IBM Design, San Francisco is pleased to announce that our design for the IBM Data Science Experience ( has been awarded the Red Dot Award: Communication Design 2017 in the Interface & User Experience Design category.

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As any student of design history will tell you, IBM has a rich design legacy, dating back to the days of Eliot Noyes, Paul Rand, Charles & Ray Eames and Isamu Noguchi. IBM made a major push to regain its leadership in design with the creation of IBM Design in 2012. In the following years, IBM has hired well over one thousand designers, and set up studios in 41 locations worldwide. Our studio in the heart of San Francisco is focused on data science, with the goal of making data simple and accessible for anyone to use to make better decisions.

Ask any data scientist and they will tell you- analyzing data to better understand complex subjects has not been easy. There are myriad tools that may or may not work together, it’s difficult to get access to data, and setting up the various back-end systems is a real chore. What they want to focus on is the problem they are trying to solve, not the fight against technology. They want to work with other data scientists, to learn from each other, share algorithms & approaches to analyzing data, and to publish the results of their efforts. They want to work with peers from other disciplines- data engineers who can help them prepare data, business analysts who will adapt their results into new approaches.

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Our design for IBM Data Science Experience (DSX) arose directly from this user research into the needs of data scientists. This understanding led to the primary user experience innovation of DSX: the convergence of a collaboration site (modeled on social media) with the open-source tools used by data scientists, in conjunction with the data. In one place, users can start by learning from the projects of other data scientists, and fork the available work into their own explorations. They can publish their work if it’s of public benefit, or share with peers if it’s confidential. DSX is free to the public, but companies can purchase additional capability as needed.

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Our team needed to ensure that the experience was easy to use, and extensible to companion sites built for data engineers, system administrators etc. We built a UI framework that simply and clearly localizes core interactions into repeatable patterns that work for many different tools. This framework is now being used by several design teams to build multiple sites, and we’ve been very gratified to see that it works beautifully. DSX is now one of the premier data science systems available, with thousands of active users worldwide.

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Design teams across IBM are doing outstanding work, and we hope this is just the first of many Red Dot awards to come. Please join me in thanking our design team, and stay tuned for more great work in the future.

David Townsend, Director of Design, IBM Analytics

David Schultz, Head of Studio, IBM Design San Francisco

Valeria Montrucchio, Design Lead, IBM Design San Francisco


Caroline Law

Renee Mascarinas

Jason Azares

Jessica Gore

Leila J

IBM Design

Stories from the practice of design at IBM

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