"His influence ran deep...."

Design Community Mourns the Loss of Martin "Marty" Smith

The design community mourns the loss of ArtCenter College of Design's first chair of its product design program—Martin “Marty” Smith—who also was an IDSA member. He was 67. “An industrial designer and educator with over 35 years of experience in product development, design education and design management, Marty was a pillar of this community and will be greatly missed,” says ArtCenter President Lorne M. Buchman.

From 1985 to 2008, Smith served as the first chair of Product Design at ArtCenter—when it first split from a larger industrial design program; his leadership helped build the nationally-recognized department. In 2005, he conceived and created a study abroad program with INSEAD, one of Europe’s leading business schools.

In his professional life, Smith worked for Designworks USA, where he managed several, major, automotive design projects for Volvo, Mazda, General Motors, Chrysler and Subaru. As a consultant, he designed products for Avery-Dennison, Reebok, Salomon, Olympus Image Systems, Playtex and Coca-Cola. He held many US and international patents and licensed half a dozen products to major companies for manufacturing and distribution. In October 2008, Smith became a professor chair of the industrial design program at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

In 2014, he returned to ArtCenter to teach product and transportation design. “All of us—especially his students—were delighted to have his great energy and talents with us again,” says Buchman. “We have been deeply touched by all the messages of love and support from the design community. Our hearts go out to Marty’s family—his wife (industrial designer) Babette (Strousse) and his sons Matt and Noah…. He was a kind and generous man, a passionate and dedicated teacher, a first-rate designer, a supportive and loyal colleague and a great friend to us all.”

A memorial service is planned at ArtCenter early in the summer term. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations can be made to the new Marty Smith Scholarship Fund at ArtCenter. Online donations may be made here selecting the “named scholarship” option and identifying “Marty Smith Scholarship” in the pull-down menu. Or, donors may call the Development Office at 626.396.4216 or write a check to ArtCenter College of Design with “Marty Smith Scholarship Fund” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to ArtCenter Office of Development, 1700 Lida Street, Pasadena, CA 91103.

Adds Buchman, “This wonderful man touched countless lives, and his influence ran deep. His passing is a tragic loss for our community.”

Add your memories of Marty Smith by logging in to your account on IDSA.org. Return to this article, scroll to the bottom (below the social media buttons) and write in the "Add New Comment" section.