Design History

Intense Design: Product Design Lessons from Cold War Era Skunk Works


You have a wonderful idea and want to make it real. What are the first steps? Many forces act on you to slow you down, but your imagination, creativity, and passion need to overcome these constraints. Intense Design (CreateSpace, 2020) presents a time in history when great ideas became great products, such as the SR-71 Blackbird. How did an organization shrug off all the problems associated with Mach 3 travel?

Wooden Wonders: Traditional Malaysian Fishing Boats


Wooden Wonders: Traditional Malaysian Fishing Boats (UTM Academic Press, 2021) is a study undergirding ethnography design in this application.

It is an example of designing for people different than ourselves using ethnography and other epistemologies to compliment “technical” positivistic approaches.


Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit

The New York Times bestselling author of Bitter Brew chronicles the birth and rise to greatness of the American auto industry through the remarkable life of Harley Earl, an eccentric six-foot-five, stuttering visionary who dropped out of college and went on to invent the profession of automobile styling, thereby revolutionized the way cars were made, marketed, and even imagined.

The Man Who Designed the Future: Norman Bel Geddes and the Invention of Twentieth-Century America

Before there was Steve Jobs, there was Norman Bel Geddes. 

A ninth-grade dropout who found himself at the center of the worlds of industry, advertising, theater, and even gaming, Bel Geddes designed everything from the first all-weather stadium, to Manhattan's most exclusive nightclub, to Futurama, the prescient 1939 exhibit that envisioned how America would look in the not-too-distant 60s. 

Twenty Over Eigthty

Aileen Kwun and Bryn Smith have interviewed 20 of the greats in 20th-century design for their new book that covers the waterfront - from graphic design to architecture to advertising to furniture. They spoke with Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser, Denise Scott Brown, and the late Michael Graves, among others.

The Inventor's Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber

The extraordinary life and career of the iconic twentieth-century inventor, technologist, and business magnate H. Joseph Gerber is described in a fascinating biography written by his son, David, based on unique access to unpublished sources. A Holocaust survivor whose early experiences shaped his ethos of invention, Gerber pioneered important developments in engineering, electronics, printing, apparel, aerospace, and numerous other areas, playing an essential role in the transformation of American industry.

John Vassos: Industrial Design for Modern Life

What should a television look like? How should a dial on a radio feel to the touch? These were questions John Vassos asked when the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) asked him to design the first mass-produced television receiver, the TRK-12, which had its spectacular premier at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Vassos emigrated from Greece and arrived in the United States in 1918.