Robert Glenn Smith, FIDSA
IDSA New York Chapter Chairman: 1980-81
Robert Smith's design education began at Pratt Institute in 1941, but it was interrupted by the events of Dec. 7, 1941. He graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy at King Point and served on various ships and maritime posts until 1947. He returned to complete his studies in industrial design at Pratt, graduating in 1951.
An exciting 35-year career in design started while at Pratt in summers working for Jay Doblin and Carl Otto. This was followed by three years with Heritage Henredon Furniture company. Smith then became a designer with Harley Earl Associates in Detroit. This led to a position as an account manager at Raymond Loewy Associates. In 1959, Smith joined Lippincott and Margulies for nine years, becoming vice president of product design and development.
In 1968, he was offered the opportunity to start a new product design and development department for JC Penney. He was responsible for the design of hard-line products, ranging from home electronics to power tools and sewing machines. The position of chair of the JC Penney Design System was added to his responsibilities in 1971. The company had spent two years studying its marketing strategies and image objectives to help achieve the desired goals. Based on these objectives, a comprehensive design program was developed, which changed all visual aspects of the company, from its logo to the look of new stores, including its advertising, catalog, and the design of major private label products.
The company was awarded the IDSA 1974 Award for the Advancement of Design for this program.
Smith had been chair of IDSA's New York City Chapter and regional chair before becoming president of IDSA in 1981.