ID World Mourns the Passing of "Corporate America's Secret Weapon"

Sep 20 2016 - 2:07pm

The New York Times reports Sara Little Turnbull, the Parsons School of Design alum and industrial designer hailed as “corporate America’s secret weapon,” died Sept. 4, 2015 at her home in Seattle at the age of 97.

Known professionally as Sara Little, the former House Beautiful editor designed for giants such as 3M, Corning, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, DuPont, Ford, Nissan, Volvo, Pfizer and Motorola. She consulted for NASA. Little taught for almost two decades at Stanford University and lectured at Harvard University, MIT, Rhode Island School of Design and others institutions of higher learning.

She “liked to say that she never invented anything, only made improvements,” writes Pulitzer Prize reporter Robert D. McFadden in The New York Times obituary. “She traveled the world for design concepts, finding many in nature and human customs, and used them in furniture, storage systems, toys, foods, packaging, fabrics and countless other products.” Read more.

Little's website also shows she consulted for government institutions in India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Great Britain. She earned a Design Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Trailblazer Award from the National Home Fashion League; and an honorary doctorate from The Academy of Art. She was designated as a Bay Area Living Treasure by the Modern Art Council of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the former International Council of Graphic Design Associations.

On her website, Little offered words to live by: “If you don’t stretch, you don’t know where the edge is.”