The Designing Life

This year’s National Air and Space Museum lifetime achievement award winner, Burt Rutan, talks about music, golf and his favorite chair.

(Jim Sugar)
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How is your current floatplane project going? What stage are you at? 

It’s a good plan. It’s still in design phase. We will likely start build before the summer. 

What will you do with it? 

I’ll explore the lakes and rivers of north Idaho.

What are some of your designing rituals: Do you like to listen to music when you work? 

No music or other distractions during the creative part of design work. Music is okay while doing routine calculations, or when developing a CAD [computer-aided design] model of an existing innovative design. However, the thinking must be done in a silent room or outside in nature. 

When you do listen to music, what kind do you like? 

Interesting, I have never been asked that before! My iPod music playlist has a lot of Elvis gospel, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, Peter, Paul and Mary, John Prine, Leon Russell, Limeliters, Tammy Wynette, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart, Gordon Lightfoot, and stand-up comedy. 

What are some of your other designing rituals: Any favorite desk or chair? 

I am big on bean-bag chairs, at least the new ones that are shredded urethane foam, not the old styro beans. I spend a lot of time on a reclining chair in front of my Mac with 30-inch monitors. 

Do you follow any sports? 

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