Mourning the Loss of Shaun Jackson

Educator, inventor, designer, and entrepreneur Shaun Jackson, IDSA, died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a Florida plane crash last weekend.

“IDSA and the entire design community are mourning the tragic death of Shaun Jackson,” said George McCain, FIDSA, chairman of IDSA.“We offer our deepest sympathies to his family, his friends, his student,s and colleagues. Shaun was an incredibly optimistic, energetic, creative,e and thoughtful person who touched so many lives in the design world. Shaun’s contributions and inspiration to IDSA and all of design are immeasurable, and leave us a bright legacy to remember him by.”

“Shaun was an inspiration and a visionary,” said Mark Dziersk, FIDSA, managing director of LUNAR Chicago.“He was formed by the combination of pure positive energy and the will to make everything better and more meaningful. You couldn’t help but be drawn to him. He will be terribly missed. He changed the world and then chose education as his calling, but there was a lot more that he was planning to do. I will miss him forever.”

Jan-Henrik Andersen, associate professor of design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan, said, “This is a typical Shaun quote by one of our exchange students, Mithula Naik from India,‘I want to show you stuff that’s intimidatingly good. Nothing less should be your standard.’ Shaun on interdisciplinary collaboration at the University:‘Michigan is a world class university in a vast variety of disciplines, and we should educate designers that move freely between the units and lend design thinking to all fields of study.’ He practiced this by being a professor in three independent academic units: School of Art & Design, College of Architecture and Urban Plannin, and School of Business, and he developed and taught classes that bridged the units.’” 

Shaun was a dedicated and active member of IDSA. He served as one of the eight IDEA jurors in 1995 and then was chosen as IDEA chair in 1999 and 2001. In 2001 he was instrumental in launching a new program, the Design & Business Catalyst Awards, by serving as the jury chair. He also served as a juror on the IDEA 2011 and IDEA 2012 juries. Shaun delivered a memorable talk as part of the Designer Spotlight Series in February 2005 and was a faculty adviser for his U of M students.

Shaun founded his first company, Eclipse Inc., while still a student at the University of Michigan. As president and design director, he guided its growth from a small entrepreneurial venture to a multimillion-dollar corporation. Eclipse, because of his commitment to design driven excellence, was selected as a case study for a National Endowment for the Arts research project entitled “The Competitive Edge: The Role of Design in American Business.”
Shaun held more than 50 patents and captured national and international honors, including an IDEA for his Eclipse Motorcycle Saddlepacks. His designs have been featured in Time magazine, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek, USA Today, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and Wired magazine. In 2000 the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum nominated him for its prestigious National Design Award. Shaun had a triple joint appointment at University of Michigan. He held a professorship in The School of Art and Design, the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and in the Steven M. Ross School of Business. Additionally, he lectured at business and design schools worldwide, including Harvard University, Auburn, the University of Houston, and Carleton University. In 2005, he was appointed Chairman of the National Design Conference in Washington, DC.

In addition to his teaching and speaking engagements, he maintained an active design consultancy with his business partner Mark Zadvinskis. Through his firm, Shaun Jackson Design and Higher Ground, his clients included Apple Computer, General Electric Medical Systems, Herman Miller, Harley Davidson, Nike, L.L. Bean, Harley Davidson, and Patagonia.

Shaun is survived by his wife, Catherine Banish-Jackson, sons Taylor and Ryan, and stepdaughters Sydney and Rachel Tuchman.