Jim Ryan, FIDSA, Remembered as "Iconic Figure in ID"
An IDSA member for nearly half a century who served as Society president and Board chair, and was inducted into the Academy of Fellows, passed away on Aug. 28, 2016. Jim Ryan, FIDSA, was 79 years old. He joined IDSA in 1970.
“Jim was an iconic figure in industrial design practice and a pioneer in how to be a true strategic collaborator to clients and business,” says IDSA Fellow Bob Schwartz of GE Healthcare. “As a senior partner at Henry Dreyfuss Associates, Jim led work with some of the most important companies on the planet. While I was executive director of IDSA, Jim became president and then Board chair in the mid-90s. He helped the Society tremendously—to further establish business rigor—and led us into the dawn of social media and the establishment of IDSA.org.”
“Jim and I believed in the value of IDSA—both to the profession and to the individual designer,” says Dave Tompkins, FIDSA. “We stayed active at many levels for many years. Working together as senior officers I knew him as a creative, incisive executive with a sense of humor. And best of all, I knew him for 40 years as a close friend.”
Prior to collaborating with ECCO Design, Ryan spent 36 years with Henry Dreyfuss Associates, the legendary design consultancy where he retired as senior partner. Ryan led design programs for many business jet interiors including Gulfstream, Falcon Jets and Honda Jet. He designed interiors for American Airlines, Amtrak intercity rail, New Jersey Transit, Long Island Rail Road and the New York City subway.
He also was deeply involved in the design and development of Polaroid cameras and many of their professional, scientific and medical products for more than 25 years from 1969-1996. Ryan designed several versions of Polaroid's folding and solid body "pack film" cameras that used "peel apart" film technology; "integral film" cameras; Polavision instant movie system; and accessories and attachments.
Internationally, Ryan consulted with the Electricity Commission of New South Wales, Australia on the design of transmission facilities; Israel Aircraft Industries on business aircraft; Eicher Goodearth Ltd. of New Delhi, India on the interior design of commuter buses; and Xian Aircraft of China on the interiors of turbo-prop commuter aircraft. His work was honored in IDSA’s International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA); ID magazine's Annual Design Review; and the International Design Yearbook, among others.
Ryan guest lectured on design at Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Harvard Business School, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Pratt Institute, The Ohio State University, Rhode Island School of Design and at his alma mater—University of the Arts—where he earned his bachelor's degree in ID in 1960.
Marilyn Ryan shares that her husband also had an impact on their community. "When our children were tiny we formed a group called Parents for Improved Playgrounds and he and two other dads, William Jacquette and Kenneth Ross—architects—designed a playground at 100th Street and Central Park West. This was funded by Estee Lauder. It received an award for excellence in 1973."
Jim Ryan is survived by daughter Cristina Ryan Raggio and son James Michael Ryan, Jr.; son-in-law Andrew Raggio; daughter-in-law Kathy de Roche; and grandchildren Emma and James Ryan Raggio; and Carson and Fischer deRoche Ryan. A celebration of his life will be held in the fall in Manhattan. Donations in his honor may be sent to: Ellen's Run, The Ellen P. Hermanson Foundation, PO Box 4098, East Hampton, NY 11937.
“Jim always had a twinkle in his eye and those of us who served the Society with him will always remember how he and his wife Marilyn lit up a room during our many adventures together,” Schwartz fondly recalls.
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