William Plumb, FIDSA
Inducted into the Academy of Fellows: 1983
William Plumb served as president of plumb inc., a design and marketing firm in Piermont, NY, and as president of Avecmedia, Inc. of Norwalk, CT, a developer and licensor of patented concepts for media packaging. He was inducted into IDSA's Academy of Fellows in 1983. He was named as a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome (FAAR) and in 1986, he earned a Prix de Rome from FAAR. He also served several terms as a vice president of the academy.
Plumb earned a degree in industrial design from Cornell University and pursued post-graduate studies at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. He began his design career in the studio of Gio Ponti, the noted Milanese architect/designer, and, while living in Milan, also worked as a consultant to the Ufficio Sviluppo (development office) of La Rinascente department stores.
In the United States, he joined the firm of Eliot Noyes and Associates. Noyes, who later also became an IDSA Fellow, was the founder and then-consultant director of the IBM Corporate Design Program, where Plumb was involved in a wide variety of activities from brand identity to the design and development of a number of successful IBM products.
Plumb opened a design firm in New York City in 1963 with IBM as his first client. The work of his firm subsequently centered on a broad range of issues, among them:
- New product design and development.
- Comprehensive corporate identity/branding.
- Visual marketing; the coordinated design of promotional materials and environments to sell products and ideas.
- The visual interpretation and expression of technology as a marketing tool.
Plumb and his associates played roles in developing design strategies for companies such as Apple, AT&T, Bussman (Buss-brand fuses), Corning, Dictaphone, Du Pont (Corian-brand solid surface material), Hitachi, IBM, International Paper, Ricoh, Savin and United Technologies, among others.
Projects for which Plumb was responsible were published widely and included in exhibitions at leading museums such as Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Brooklyn Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Whitney Museum. A number of Plumb-designed products have won "Gute Form" design awards at the Hanover Fair in Germany.
Plumb wrote extensively on design and marketing issues for many publications both professional and general in nature. He was a long-time member of the Editorial Advisory Board of ID magazine. Articles about him and his firm have appeared in ID, Metropolis, Interiors, Fortune, Domus and numerous other periodicals.
He lectured at Cornell University, Pratt Institute, Ohio State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of the Arts, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Art Center College in Pasedena and the American Academy in Rome. He taught studio design courses at University of the Arts and RISD.
In the early 1990s, Plumb co-invented and managed the development of an innovative new CD package called the Q-Pack® for Queens Group, Inc., one of the leading print/packagers for the recording industry. As a result of a series of mergers and acquisitions, the patents for this package are now licensed to International Paper. As a result of his experience in this field, he took on the presidency of a new company, Avecmedia, Inc., in 2000. He worked on the development of a new line of products for CD packaging called the AvecPAK™. The patent rights for the AvecPAK in its drink cup lid forms were licensed to Atlanta-based Convex in 2003 and distributed under the trade name of LidRock.
While retaining the presidency of Avecmedia, Plumb also redirected his energy toward clients of his consultancy.
Plumb was qualified and testified as an expert witness in a number of intellectual property cases for the New York City law firms of Darby and Darby and O’Sullivan Graev & Karabell, LLP and the Norwalk, CT firm of Grimes and Battersby. He passed away on Feb. 9, 2017.