Del King, L/IDSA | Western Washington University
Professor King is the former CEO of Teague. Teague was founded in 1926 by Walter Dorwin Teague. It is an award-winning industrial design firm, internationally recognized for the past eight decades as a talented and creative team. Teague celebrated its 80th Anniversary in 2006 and continues to innovate with work for the likes of Boeing, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Samsung, Xbox, and Nike. Del King leads the senior industrial design studio.
2011 Education Award Statement
Dell King enjoyed a distinguished career in professional design practice. He managed the medical products division at Hewlett Packard. He served as Fluke’s corporate design manager. And he was president and CEO of Walter Dorwin Teague Associates. Not bad for the guy who has taught the senior ID studio at Western Washington University for almost three decades.
Each of the dozens and dozens of students who have studied with him has a “Dell Story.” Among the words Western grads have used to describe him: Critical. Meticulous. Intense. Demanding. Relentless. Scary.
Dell is also the professor who visits ill students in the hospital and arranges for them to graduate on time despite missing numerous classes. He’s the one who attends weddings and tells his current class of former students’ post-graduation adventures. And he’s the one who would advise a new grad on salary negotiation for her first design job. Dell didn’t launch the program at Western, but with the way he worries about his students and takes such pride in them, it’s no exaggeration to call him the father of it.
Back in the early eighties, Western’s young ID program experienced some serious growing pains. Dell stepped in to help out. In 1984, he began driving 180 miles round trip twice a week from his home near Seattle to Western’s Bellingham campus.
His first contribution was to take full responsibility for the senior studio. In doing so, he launched a unique tradition where the program would confer only 12 degrees each year.
To stabilize and build out the Western program, Dell worked to arrange a senior show at a professional venue in Seattle; he created a senior ID library; he pursued collaborations with local industry and he took part in the Sophomore Portfolio Review that is used to select the 12 juniors who’ll be challenged to earn a Western degree.
Dell has long been a famous advocate of process and professionalism. Each year, he guides his students through a rigorous discovery of theory, fundamental skills and hands-on design application.
The level of talent Dell has graduated is inspiring. During his tenure, Western has sent designers to work for Fluke, Teague, Boeing, Siemens, Artefact, Intel, General Electric, Pensar and Carbon, to name a few. As his students make their way through the world, they almost always return to Bellingham to conduct industry sponsored projects.
Those “Dell Stories” that Western alums all cherish often have a Dell quote at the heart of them:
“Design the solution.”
“Make everything you do, no matter what it is, the best work you’ve ever done.”
“My only interest here is to make every one of you a winner. If you fail, I fail.”
With so many successful designers crediting Dell for molding them, the last thing anyone would call him is a failure. For his singular contributions to one school—and by extension the entire design profession—we are very pleased to honor Dell King as IDSA’s Educator of the Year.