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Remembering McKinsey Design’s Mark Dziersk (1959-2020)

Mark Dziersk, an award-winning industrial designer, educator, and leader who helped lay the foundation of McKinsey Design, passed away suddenly earlier this year. He was 60 years old. A celebration of Mark’s life was held on March 7 at Northwestern University, where he was an adjunct lecturer in the Master of Product Design and Development Management Program.

“This is a huge loss for our entire firm and the design community at large,” says McKinsey senior partner and McKinsey Design leader Hugo Sarrazin. “We celebrate his life and his achievements, and we’ll be forever indebted to him for the example he set for all of us through his work and the way he lived his life.”

Our firm met Mark, a Detroit native and University of Michigan alum, about five years ago. At the time, we were taking our very first steps into the world of design, searching for organizations and people who could join us in our efforts to serve clients in innovative and, for our firm, unprecedented ways. Mark was then the managing director at LUNAR Chicago, a studio he helped open in 2011 that was the second location for LUNAR, a leading product design firm based in San Francisco.

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Mark was a towering ambassador for design who inspired those around him to appreciate the impact that great design can have.

Mark impressed us immediately. His intellect, his boundless good humor and optimism, and his deep passion for design were evident from our earliest meetings with him and his colleagues. That spirit never faded. McKinsey acquired LUNAR in May 2015, and Mark began building a special place within our firm, particularly among our colleagues in Chicago, where he was the leader of our Chicago Design Studio.

“Mark was incredibly genuine and had an ability to make those around him feel valued and special,” says McKinsey senior partner Virginia Simmons, who serves as managing partner of our Midwest Office. “It was rare that a conversation with Mark didn’t involve a laugh, a warm hug, and a deep and abiding enthusiasm for how the power of design can improve lives.”

Mark dedicated his work at McKinsey to spreading that message. He was a towering ambassador for design within our firm, and he inspired a generation of colleagues and clients to appreciate the impact that great design can have. In addition, Mark held over 50 U.S. patents and was a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America.

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A look at a storyboard Mark developed illustrating a new health-care pathway.

He nurtured legions of design thinkers beyond McKinsey through his work at Northwestern University, where he taught in the Master of Product Design and Development Management program at the Segal Design Institute and was honored as Faculty of the Year in 2004, 2018, and 2019. Earlier in his career, Mark taught at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Mark was also a writer who often published his thoughts about craft and hot industry topics. In a 2014 Fast Company essay about the distinction between art and design, he wrote that he thought a “really amazing design” is “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.”

By that metric, we think that Mark’s life itself was perhaps his finest design. We will miss him greatly. Mark is survived by his wife Elizabeth and their three daughters, Monroe, Emilee, and Elissa.

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