Victor Papanek

Victor Papanek 
(1927-1998)

Designer, anthropologist, writer and teacher, Victor Papanek was born in Vienna, Austria and arrived in the United States in 1932. He graduated in 1948 from Cooper Union in New York City with degrees in architecture and industrial design, and studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Papanek opened his own consulting office in 1953.

He became dean of the School of Design at the California Institute of the Arts, and in the early 1970s became chair of design at the Kansas City, (MO) Art Institute. He wrote a number of design-related books, including Design for the Real World (1972), Nomadic Furniture (1973), Nomadic Furniture Two (1974), How Things Don't Work (1977), Design for Human Scale (1983) and Viewing the World Whole (1983). Beginning in 1981, Papanek taught architecture and design at the University of Kansas.

As a member of design societies throughout the world, he transcended national and cultural barriers, and his books were translated into many languages. His primary concern was using appropriate design for third-world countries. His designs included a 9¢ radio receiver in Indonesia, an irrigation pump made from castoff rubber tires in Africa and a Peter Rabbit storybook printed on cuddly cloth for American children.

At its 1999 International Design Conference in Chicago, the Industrial Designers Society of America posthumously honored Papanek with its Personal Recognition Award for his 35 years of contributions to the design profession.

Read more about Victor Papanek. Image copyright Dwell magazine.