James Joseph Pirkl, FIDSA
IDSA Education Award: 2001
Inducted into the Academy of Fellows: 1985
IDSA Central New York Chapter:
IDSA Education Committee Chair:
James Joseph Pirkl is professor emeritus of industrial design, past chairman of Syracuse University's department of design and an internationally respected industrial design educator, writer, and lecturer. A former senior research fellow at Syracuse University's All-University Gerontology Center, he is an authoritative consultant for the 50+ market described as a key figure in universal design by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. In 1982, he coined the term "transgenerational design" and in 1988 co-authored the book, Guidelines and Strategies for Designing Transgenerational Products (Copley). His last book, Transgenerational Design: Products for an Aging Population (Wiley) received a 1994 Gold Industrial Design Excellence Award. In 2003, AARP The Magazine featured his design of the country's first 'transgenerational' house, exposing his ideas to over 35-million readers.
After graduating from Pratt Institute's advertising design program in 1951, he served in the Sea Bees during the Korean War and returned to Pratt, earning his BID cum Laude in 1958. He join the General Motors Design Staff, advancing to senior project designer responsible for the "Avenue of Progress" section of the General Motors Futurama pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1963, he was promoted to assistant chief designer of Frigidaire's Advanced Product Research Studio.
In 1965 he was recruited by Arthur J. Pulos, FIDSA and appointed assistant professor of industrial design at Syracuse University. Promoted to full professor in 1974, Jim was one of five U.S. industrial design educators sponsored by the U.S. State Department who, in 1976 and 1978, conducted invited seminars on industrial design education at the All (Soviet) Union Research Institute of Industrial Design in Moscow and at the Bauhaus in Desseu, East Germany. Named professor-in-charge of industrial design in 1978, he was appointed department chair in 1985 and served until his retirement in 1993. He is currently Executive Director of the non-profit organization, Transgenerational Design Matters, Inc.
A member of IDSA since 1972, Jim has served as board member, regional vice president, and chair of the Central New York Chapter. He also chaired IDSA's Education Committee, its first Universal Design Committee, and the Accreditation Council, which established the 1984 IDSA/NASAD school evaluation and accreditation agreement. He was named a Fellow in 1985 and in 2001 awarded the Society's Education Award.
Jim is a life member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the Authors Guild, and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Art, and Who's Who in Science and Engineering, he lives in Albuquerque, N.M. with his wife, Sarah. They have three children, Theo, Jay and Philip.