Arnold Wolf, FIDSA

Arnold Wolf, FIDSA

Inducted into the Academy of Fellows: 1983

There is inherent irony in my having been elected to Fellowship or, indeed, to my being a member of IDSA in the first place. The reason is that I have never studied industrial design formally, and so can be regarded as a largely undetected impostor.

My educational record tends to bear this out. I graduated from the Bronx High School of Science (New York City) in 1943, having also been exposed to a valuable extension program at the Museum of Modern Art, which explored the sources and principles underlying 19th and 20th century art and design. Three semesters at Los Angeles City College (1944-1945) introduced me to graphic design (then quaintly called "commercial art") and typography. After military service, attendance at the University of California brought me into the world of theater and literature. My degree (1952) was in Dramatic Art, with a minor in historical Decorative Art.

My working life was similarly checkered. While still in high school, I freelanced as a juvenile radio actor, specializing in European dialects. The subsequent career path zigzags in a manner shrewdly designed to confuse the reader: draftsman and perspective sketch artist, RKO Pictures (1943-1944); assistant art director, Joe Perrett Advertising (1944); broadcast producer and writer, U.S. Air Force Band, Washington D.C.(1945-1946); instructor in theater arts, Saint Mary's College (1952-1953)and the University of California (1955); owner of Arnold Wolf Associates, industrial designers (1957-1970) in Berkeley, CA; president, James B. Lansing Sound, Inc., Los Angeles, CA (1970-1975), and chairman of the board (1975-1979); professor of design and chairman, Department of Design, California State University, Long Beach (1984-1985).

In 1981, I re-established my consulting design practice under the name of Arnold Wolf Design with services centered on product exhibit design, ergonomics, and corporate identity. In 1981-1982, I was a member of the Fellowship Awards panel (Design Arts division), National Endowment for the Arts. I moved to Pacific Grove, California in 1987 and have since retired from active design practice.

I am proud to have been a member of IDSA since its inception and also a participant in its precedent organization, IDI. Whether the above history is testimony to the usefulness of eclecticism or simply a case of gross carelessness is a question best left to others.