Dan Quinlan, IDSA (1960-2020)

Jan 28 2021 - 5:01pm


The Industrial Designers Society of America remembers Dan Quinlan, IDSA, who passed away in late 2020. Dan was a member of the Global Consumer Design family at Whirlpool for 28 years before retiring in July. 


Donations may be made to IDSA's Design Foundation in memory of Dan. At the donation link, there's a notes field in the second step of the donation process where donors may write "In Memory of Dan Quinlan." These "In Memory" notes will be included on the Donor List as donors are added to the website. 

From the GCD Team at Whirlpool:
In memory of our Friend, Dan Quinlan...

Dan spent 28 years at Whirlpool, prior to taking early retirement. In this time he was able to impart his knowledge and passion for design to our team members who follow in his footsteps. He will be fondly remembered as the Godfather of Refrigeration, a fountain of knowledge and open to share this with everyone he met. If an idea came up that we had tried in the past, he would know it, and he would push to try it again.

Forever learning and teaching, one of the last tasks he set for himself was to create better quality renders in Keyshot, thinking, "If the new guys can do it, so can I." He would walk around the studio, bump into you, look you in the eye, hands on his hips, then waving, say, "Just the person I need to talk to about that idea..." He was always thinking a hundred miles an hour, always looking out for you and how to help.

Dan has left a great legacy. He will be missed.

Read Dan's obituary here.

Thoughts from Dan's daughter, Annie:
While I was never as artistically inclined as my dad, his love for art still affected my life for the better while growing up. Whenever a school project required an artistic point of view, my dad was always there to help. He had a knack for teaching, and he always took the time to help me achieve the best outcome in my artistic projects, whether it be showing me how to use a 3D rendering program to create a castle or how to create a slide for a Rube Goldberg machine. Whatever the medium, he would always patiently teach the process so that I could truly understand what I was doing, and I have applied that knowledge later in life. My dad truly loved art and shared that love with me, and I am truly appreciative that he did.
From Dan's daughter, Meg: 
Dad was encouraging of anything I did art related. He was there to help me with any art project I had. Making sure I had opportunities to try out any new mediums and styles I was interested in. Developing my love and dedication to art. Making me who I am today.

From Dan's wife, Krys:
I feel like Dan and I got along so well because we both came from artistic families, his more visual, mine performing. Dan became interested in art and design at a very young age. His father was a big influence on that. Jim Quinlan was a designer at Ford for many years. 

Dan was a born teacher. An artist with a vision of the future. He was a very kind soul and a great deal of patience. I will miss him immensely. Even his bad Dad jokes.

From Dan's brother, Steve:
Having grown up with my brother Dan I always knew he was artistically talented. Dan always had a keen sense of design trends. He once commented that there are no bad design ideas...just a matter of the timing to bring design to market. Thank you to IDSA for posting this tribute to my brother Dan. I will always miss Dan.

From Dan's friend, Bob Schneider:

I worked with Dan at Whirlpool in the design group for 21 years. While I had been a model maker in consumer design and automotive, I knew nothing about appliances except as a consumer. Dan was Mr Refrigeration. My first project was with Dan and we worked on countless refrigerator projects together after that, whether revamping an existing design or building a whole refrigerator from scratch. His encyclopedic knowledge of all the parts, brands and models was amazing. His catalogue of design ideas was just as broad. Most "new" ideas were not new to him, just that now was its time. I would seldom find Dan at his desk, but always found him walking the hallways.

Dan always had time for my questions and helped me throughout my time at Whirlpool. We both retired at the same time and I last saw him as we were handing in our laptops and phones at security. Such a shame that we left in the beginnings of the virus lockdown and weren't able to say goodbye properly.

Cheers Dan! Peace and happy memories to his wife and family.

If you have memories of Dan that you'd like to share, please email membership@idsa.org.