Robert Lepper

1989 Robert Lepper, FIDSA (1906-1991)

At its annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, IDSA honored Professor Lepper with its second annual Educator Award. Lepper was intimately involved with the establishment of the industrial design program at Carnegie Mellon University (formerly Carnegie Institute of Technology), the first degree-granting ID program in the US, initiated in 1934. He also defined seven basic elements of visual perception (line, area, volume, space, value, color and texture) and identified their industrial equivalents.

Artist, sculptor and design educator. Lepper was born in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania, graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) in 1927 and spent 1927-1928 in Europe absorbing current art and Bauhaus design. He joined the faculty at CIT in 1930, where he painted machine art (Crankshaft, 1932) In 1938 he developed and published an article The Elements of Visual Perception, linking art elements to manufacturing processes. In 1940-1942, he created a highly acclaimed mural at West Virginia University for the Mining Industries Building. Andy Warhol was one of his students at CIT, 1945-1949. Professor Lepper taught in the Industrial Design program at Carnegie from its inception until his retirement in 1975.