An Innovator and a Wonderful Friend

IDSA Remembers Darrell Staley, FIDSA

Nov 19 2015 - 8:22am

IDSA Fellow Darrell Staley has passed away from cancer. He was 78 years old. "He was a designer, painter, traveler, writer, innovator who was creative, intelligent, fun, witty, sweet, charming, private and a wonderful friend to so many of us," former IDSA Executive Director Bob Schwartz, FIDSA, fondly recalls.

"Darrell was a wonderful guy, a highly professional designer and a generous contributor to IDSA," remembers Katherine McCoy, FIDSA.

Staley graduated from Pasadena, CA's Art Center College of Design with honors in 1962. From 1962 to 1967, he was a staff designer for General Motors Corporation, where he worked on the design of Frigidaire home appliances, special projects and the World's Fair in 1964 in New York City. He worked for Ampex Corporation from 1967 to 1997, with a broad range of domestic and international responsibilities. "As a talented designer with an open mind for problem solving and a steadfast commitment toward the role of design at Ampex, he had an early influence on the evolving role of design in the high technology field," says Deane Richardson, FIDSA.

Staley joined IDSA In 1975, chaired committees and served as Western District VP and National Secretary/Treasurer. In 1978, he served as co-chair of the steering committee for the "transformative" 1978 IDSA National Conference at Asilomar in Monterey Bay, CA. In Make it New: The History of Silicon Valley Design, Barry M. Katz and John Maeda write, "The demand for greater social and ecological relevance converged at the landmark Asilomar conference with a movement for democratic reform that had been rising within the organization itself." They quote IDSA historian Carroll Gantz, FIDSA, as calling Asilomar "the precise moment that IDSA leadership began to shift from autocratic control by non-elected elders to democratic governance by rank and file members."

Staley was elected to IDSA Fellowship in 1986. In 1988, he served as an IDSA delegate at the signing of the USA/USSR Agreement of Mutual Accord, and an IDSA representative to a USA/USSR exchange with design colleges in St. Petersburg, Tbilisi and Moscow.

At the 1985 International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid)/IDSA World Design Congress in Washington, DC, attended by 2,000 designers from more than three dozen countries, Staley was quoted by United Press International as saying user friendly is "the ability to sit down and design a product for a person that will make him happy to use it!"

Staley joined Cooper Woodring, FIDSA and Nancy Perkins, FIDSA, at Icsid Interdesign Japan 1989, "Living with Water." "I am saddened to hear of the passing of our colleague and dear friend, We shall all miss Darrell and his delightful sense of humor," says Woodring.

Staley was awarded more than 19 US patents, and received many design awards from 1973 to 1996. In 1992, he opened Darrell Staley Industrial Design in Santa Clara, CA.

"He was a personable communicator and 'doer'," adds Richardson.

Other IDSA members also are honoring Staley's memory. "Darrell's peers regarded him highly," says Clair Samhammer, FIDSA.

"He was a very lively character and was a linchpin in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley design community," says George R. Daniels, L/IDSA, Board of Directors' Secretary/Treasurer.