Roger Lee Funk, FIDSA
Inducted into the Academy of Fellows: 1997
IDSA Education Council Chair:
US industrial designer and educator, Roger Lee Funk, FIDSA, was born in White Hall, Ill., the second of two children of Mida and Percy Funk. He grew up in Illinois and western Kentucky and went to high school in Litchfield, Ill. He enrolled in the University of Illinois in 1952, majoring in electrical engineering. After completing three semesters, he transferred to the industrial design program in the College of Art and Architecture at the University of Illinois where three of his teachers, Arthur Pulos, James Shipley, and Jack Crist, had a major impact on his design thinking.
In 1957, he graduated from Illinois with a BFA in industrial design and immediately joined the General Electric Industrial Design Group in Bridgeport, Conn., working on small appliances. He had the good fortune of being mentored by Paul Rawson, Rudy Koepf and Don McFarland. While there, he designed a number of counter-top electric appliances including the Toast-R-OvenTM which was a combination of a toaster from his student portfolio and a small clamshell oven that had been in sketch development at GE prior to his arrival. The product was introduced in 1961 and became one of GE's most successful products. In 1961, he transferred to the GE Radio and Television design group at Electronics Park in Syracuse, N.Y., where he worked on radios and televisions including combination units—both portable and furniture based radio, TV and record player devices. During that time he had the opportunity to work closely with the office of Latham, Tyler and Jenson in Chicago who served as consultants to the GE design group at Electronics Park.
In 1963, Roger left GE and returned to school at Syracuse University. He studied, once again, with Arthur Pulos and earned an masters in ID while working as a graduate assistant for the color and design program in the Art Department. He launched a long academic teaching career in 1964 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. In 1965, he joined Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing, Mich. as an assistant professor in the Department of Art, teaching industrial design. During his first sixteen years at MSU, he not only was an active design teacher, but also served variously as the Department Chair for seven years and as assistant dean for undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Letters for three years. In 1980, he left MSU and joined the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) as chair of the Design Department. He and Ron Kemnitizer, FIDSA, were colleagues at Michigan State and both went to KCAI in the fall of 1980 as faculty members and as continuing partners in their own consulting office that had been established earlier in Michigan. In 1985, Roger joined the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning at the University of Cincinnati as director of the School of Design, which included industrial design, graphics, fashion and foundation design.
Michigan State invited Roger to return to the University in 1989 where he served in the role of consultant in seeking potential for consolidating several design programs then associated with various departments and colleges across the institution. He also served as interim chair of the Department at various junctions and continued his active teaching role in a wide spectrum of design courses. Over his academic years, Roger worked with many talented students, many of whom went on to become significant participants in IDSA and the profession. Two of special note are Michael and Kathy McCoy who earned their undergraduate degrees at Michigan State and played many "dirty tricks" on their professor, thinking he wouldn't guess their identity.
In 1965, Roger, as a member of IDEA (Industrial Design Education Association), attended the Philadelphia meeting where the three design societies—IDEA, IDI and ASID met and voted to combine and become IDSA. Since then, Roger has served variously, and multiple times, as Chair of the IDSA Education Committee (now IDSA Education Council), Chapter Chair, Ethics Review Committee and the Fellowship Selection Committee. In 1997 he was awarded Fellowship in IDSA. In 2000, he began a four-year stint as liaison between IDSA and ITEA (International Technology Education Association) and editor/writer of ID articles for their two journals. Roger retired as professor emeritus at MSU in the spring of 2000 and lives with his wife, Barbara, in Bath, Mich., just a few miles north of the MSU campus. He continues to be active in design as well as digital photography.