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Institute of Design records, 1942-2001

Identifier: 008.01.02

Academic and creative materials from the Institute of Design ca. 1948-2001. Includes multimedia output from individual students and class projects in photography, product design, industrial design, visual design, art education, printmaking, and general design; essays and articles by and about faculty members; articles, papers, and syllabi faculty used in their classes; newspaper clippings; materials related to the history of ID, including retrospectives from the 50th anniversary celebration; awards and accolades; and special exhibits and projects in which ID participated or hosted. About 2/3 of the boxes in this collection are visual materials (photos, slides, drawings, etc.). 1/6 are papers; the remaining 1/6 are audio or audio-visual. The collection has been divided into three series based on three groups of record creators: Student materials, Faculty materials, and ID materials.Because students and faculty members worked so closely together on projects, and because sometimes students became faculty members, some overlap does exist among these series. In addition, similar items can be found in more than one series or subseries. For example, each series has images of students at work around ID. The Student materials of subseries of Other student output - Photography has large prints (taken by students) of students working on class projects. The Images subseries in the Faculty materials show students working on projects with Professor Jay Doblin. And in ID materials, both the Exhibits and Images subseries show students around campus. The series descriptions, container lists, and folder contents that follow should provide a detailed guide to finding student, faculty, and ID output in this collection.

Design Philosophy In the 1950s, ID established itself as a premier design school in the United States, using an experimental approach to design methods and pedagogy. According to a poster titled “general principles/educational principles,” with this “experimental approach toward handling tools and materials, we are able to increase and refine our native ability to react to and to control the physical environment in which we live…The effective control of physical environment which is the designer’s task depends upon his understanding of contemporary man’s needs and his ability to use to their fullest the tolls at his disposal to achieve greater health and happiness for mankind.” The founding principle of Institute of Design was to make students feel comfortable with their tools and their surroundings and integrating the two creatively and practically. Once students felt this comfort they were able to design more freely and creatively. “The greatest hindrance to creative work is fear,” according to the educational principle.” Students fear ailing to live up to past genius. ID rejects the principles of glorifying past genius. Instead, students learn and study for themselves the same principles that past geniuses studied, showing the student that a good foundation will unleash “the power rests within himself.” All of the materials in this collection abide by these design principles: provide the student with a variety of materials, tools, and lessons, and allow them to create freely.


  • Creation: 1942-2001
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1957-2001


Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Research

Collection Size

443 Boxes (Plus a few non-boxed items, and items too large to fit into the vault.)


This collection is one of three primary collections which document the activities of Institute of Design, IIT's School of Design. The three collections represent official records of the school created and saved as administrative records of the school. The three collections are Acc. No. 1998.031, Acc. No. 2005.017, and Record Group 6.2. __The Record Group number 6.1 has been reserved for collection 1998.031 pending its re-cataloguing with that number. Acc. No. 2005.017 (which is not yet fully processed and catalogued as of Dec. 2011) should become Record Group 6.3.C. Bruck, Dec. 21, 2011

Biographical Note

In 1937, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, under the sponsorship of the Association of Arts and Industries, founded the New Bauhaus in Chicago. Though the New Bauhaus was short-lived, two year later Moholy opened the School of Design to continue his vision. The School reorganized in 1944 to become the Institute of Design.

After Moholy’s death in 1946, architect Serge Chermayeff took over as director. In 1949, ID merged with IIT and became a department in IIT's College of Engineering. Chermayeff resigned in 1951, and during a four-year period of architect Crombie Taylor as acting director, ID grew from a program of 50 students to over 800.

In 1955, Jay Doblin took over the role as director of the booming Institute that had moved with the College of Architecture into Crown Hall on IIT’s State Street Campus. In 1957 Doblin, formerly of the Raymond Lowey design firm in New York, established the industrial design program and broadened the curriculum to include design theory and methods, while maintaining the experimental nature of the pedagogy. Doblin worked at ID in some capacity for 24 years. In 1968 Doblin and the ID faculty revised the curriculum to include new theory, specialty and workshop classes. Doblin resigned in 1969, and a period began of several interim and shorter-term directors.

In 1970, ID began to teach computer graphics classes, well ahead of other design schools. Under Dale Fahnstrom’s direction, in 1981, the school began a Design Processes Laboratory. In 1987 Patrick Whitney signed on as director, a position he still holds. At the same time, ID was combined with the architecture program and the city planning program in a restructuring at IIT. ID did not become its own school until the following year.

In addition to these prominent designers as directors, ID boasts some of the most well-known figures in design as alumni or faculty. Photographer professors Harry Callahan, Arthur Siegel, and Aaron Siskind all worked for ID between the ‘40s and ‘70s and helped develop the first professional graduate program for photography. ID graduate students Richard Nickel, Marvin Newman, and Barbara Crane (among others) all went on to have prominent careers as photographers.

Arrangement of the Collection

This collection has been arranged into three series according to creator: students, faculty, and the Institute of Design. In addition to the items catalogued here, the collection formerly included miscellaneous published materials (books, magazines, bound periodicals and other published volumes) that have been catalogued elsewhere in Paul V. Galvin Library.

Physical Location

Most of the collection is in the UASC vault, and the following boxes are in room 3424: 52, 59, 67, 72, 146, 146a, 180a, 194, 216, 222, 224, 423a, and 433, along with a model.



Was formerly 6.2. The majority of materials in this collection were created during the years that Institute of Design (ID) was located on the main campus of Illinois Institute of Technology at 33rd and South State Streets (Chicago). During those years, 1956-1998, ID was located first in S. R. Crown Hall and then in the Tower Building (AKA, IITRI Tower). In 1998, ID moved to a downtown location at 350 N. LaSalle St., taking these materials with them. The materials were stored in a room at that location, apparently without much access to or use of them for the next nine years. It was from that location that these materials were transported back to main campus in 2007 for processing and final transfer to permanent storage in the IIT Archives.The materials were processed between Oct. 2007 and Oct. 2008 by processing archivist Mary Margaret Meg Romero (a contract worker) in rooms secured for this purpose in the Tower Building. In October 2008, the processed collection was transported to Paul V. Galvin Library (on IIT's main campus) where the IIT Archives is located.

Related Material

Institute of Design Records, 1937-ca.1955, Institute of Design Records, ca. 1960s-ca. 1990s


Meg Romero 10/2007-10/2008

Part of the Paul V. Galvin Library. University Archives and Special Collections Repository

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Paul V. Galvin Library

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