Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) records1936-2019 Majority of material found within 1985-2011
The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is a trade organization for industrial designers that promotes the impact of design on business, culture, and society. The organization provides its members with education and networking opportunities. It also advocates for the profession through legal and business channels, and it helps colleges and universities set standards for their industrial design programs. IDSA recognizes and promotes achievements in the industry through an assortment of well-regarded awards, and it provides outreach and recognition to industrial design students through a variety of student scholarships and competitions. The Industrial Designers Society of America records document the organization's internal and external activities. Administrative records provide access to IDSA's organizational structure, bylaws, and policies, as well as its internal planning, advocacy activity, and membership relations. Newsletters and research reports provide insight into the industry's critical issues during a particular time period, and they also provide a review of IDSA activities. Materials from awards programs and student competitions provide images and analysis of products and spaces that were recognized for their superior design, and records and ephemera in the collection from other design organizations, design firms, and individual designers highlight important issues and trends in the industrial design field, both in the United States and around the world.
- Majority of material found within 1985-2011
- Industrial Designers Society of America (Organization)
21.5 Linear Feet
The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is a trade organization for industrial designers that promotes the impact of design on business, culture, and society. The organization provides its members with education and networking opportunities. It also advocates for the profession through legal and business channels, and it helps colleges and universities set standards for their industrial design programs. IDSA recognizes and promotes achievements in the industry through an assortment of well-regarded awards, and it provides outreach and recognition to industrial design students through a variety of student scholarships and competitions.
IDSA was formed in 1965 with the merger of three predecessor organizations: the American Society of Industrial Design (ASID), the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI), and the Industrial Design Education Association (IDEA). In 1965, IDSA had approximately 600 members in ten chapters across the country. John Vassos (1898-1985) became IDSA’s first chairman of the board, and Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972) was IDSA’s first president; both were significant industrial designers. From its beginning, IDSA has provided a variety of education and networking opportunities for its members through local chapter offerings, and over time it established a national, annual conference that includes symposiums, exhibition halls, career advancement opportunities, and meetings between the organization’s leadership and members. To communicate with its membership, IDSA began producing a monthly newsletter to update members on the organization’s activities, member accomplishments, and industry concerns. The organization also produces in-depth research, including compensation studies, manager surveys, and a quarterly journal that covers design’s impact on business and society.
IDSA further supports its members through advocacy, taking a role in patent protection proceedings for industrial designers, and participating in congressional hearings concerning national design policies. The organization also puts considerable effort into recognizing achievements in industrial design. Its Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) became one of the most prestigious awards given in the industrial design field. IDSA also recognizes design achievement through its Design of the Decade awards, which recognize designs that influence an era. IDSA’s Catalyst awards celebrate the impact that industrial design can have on a company’s financial success or how design can create positive change in the world. Through its advocacy and awards, IDSA draws attention to how designers and their designs improve the functionality, appearance, and overall value of the products and spaces they help to develop.
IDSA also concerns itself with the future of design through outreach programs targeting industrial design students. IDSA works with companies such as Microsoft, Dyson, Procter and Gamble, and others to host student design competitions. IDSA also works with universities and accrediting institutions to devise standards for industrial design programs on college campuses. IDSA provides its endorsement to programs that meet the established criteria. Finally, IDSA provides scholarships to promising undergraduate and graduate industrial design students.
Originally headquartered in New York City, IDSA relocated in the 1980s to the Washington, D.C., suburbs, where it remains today. The organization grew from 600 members at its founding to more than 3,300 members in the United States and internationally. Members are organized into professional chapters and student chapters to better localize education and networking opportunities. Volunteers manage these chapters and receive support from IDSA’s professional staff that oversees the organization’s day-to-day business activities. A board of directors and a variety of committees that are volunteer-run provide the organization’s long-term planning, direction, and strategy.
Many accomplished designers have been members of IDSA, including designers whose papers reside at Hagley, such as Richard Hollerith (1926- ), Raymond Loewy (1893-1986), and Thomas Lamb (1897-1988).
Scope and Contents
The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) records document the organization's internal and external activities, as well as the critical issues and important trends that affect the industrial design industry, particularly during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The collection does not include much material created prior to 1980. The majority of IDSA's records created prior to 1980 can be found in the Industrial Design Society of America's records at Syracuse University Libraries.
The bulk of the collection's records were generated by IDSA staff at the Washington, D.C. area headquarters through their activities creating IDSA events, producing IDSA publications, and managing the day-to-day business affairs of the organization. However, local chapters, design firms, and external organizations also created material that is part of the collection. These materials include local chapter newsletters and advertisements, documents and images submitted for competitions and award considerations, and other ephemera that IDSA staff collected.
The records are arranged into five series: Administrative records; Communication and research; Events; Other design organizations; and Industrial designers, design projects, and design schools.
The Administrative records series provides insight into the company's organizational structure, its long- and short-term planning, and its day-to-day business affairs. Founding documents, bylaws, and policy manuals found in this series reveal the governing policies that formed IDSA's values and structure. Meeting minutes, organizational assessments, and strategic planning documents show the framework of IDSA's objectives and the organization's strategies for obtaining goals. Election records and financial records can also be found here.
The Administrative records series also includes materials that shed light on IDSA's advocacy activity and membership relations. Of particular interest are several amicus curiae briefs submitted on behalf of industrial designers litigating intellectual property cases. Materials in the series that the local chapters created illustrate the sort of activities available to IDSA members at the local level.
The Communication and research series provides insight into IDSA's operations, members, and activities. Annual reports in this series provide insight into the organization's past accomplishments, its current standing, and its future objectives. Newsletters provide a review of IDSA activities and events. Of particular interest are the annual directories, which provide a wealth of information for researchers seeking a starting point for learning about IDSA and the industrial design field at large. Most of the directories include a comprehensive description of industrial design, an annual list of members organized by specialty and by employer, a code of ethics, a historical list of presidents, organizational charts, the members of the board of directors, chapter officers, and a chapter map. The directories also include a listing of industrial design school programs and standards for program accreditation. Finally, the directories include a list of award winners, including Design of the Decade Award winners and Industrial Design Excellence Award winners.
The Communication and research series is also useful for understanding the critical issues that affected the industrial design field during this time period. Industry research focused on design awareness among business leaders, consultant office and business operation, and corporate design group studies. Other topics addressed include the impact of design on the environment, standards for industrial design programs at universities, and employment in the field.
The events series is primarily concerned with the awards, competitions, and conferences that IDSA produced or sponsored. The materials in this series often demonstrate the planning that underpinned these events and illuminates the specific content presented at the events. Of particular interest in this series are the promotional materials and programs that explain IDSA's national conference. Topics discussed at the conferences reveal the key issues and ideas in the industrial design field during a particular year. Also of interest are the materials that professional and student designers submitted for competitions and award consideration. These materials often include images of the entrant's product or space. Submission materials may also include narratives that describe the philosophy behind certain design choices. In some instances, jury scorecards and critical reviews are available. The jury material provides insight into which qualities were recognized in superior design.
Series four and series five contain material produced primarily by external organizations, and highlight important issues and trends in the industrial design field, both in the United States and around the world. Series four contains materials that other design-related trade organizations created. The bulk of this material comes from the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID). IDSA was a member of this organization that brought together industrial design trade organizations from around the world to address the global issues affecting the field. Promotional material and programs from ICSID's annual conferences form the bulk of the material.
Also of interest in this series is an Accord of Mutual Cooperation between IDSA and the Society of Soviet Designers. This accord, produced during the waning years of the Cold War, documented an increasing engagement and sharing between the United States and Soviet Union organizations. Researchers interested in this topic should also consult the Design USA exhibit materials in series III, subseries F. The Design USA exhibit was a cultural exchange exhibit produced as part of the Program of Cooperation and Exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Series five primarily consists of materials that document the work of certain industrial designers or particular design projects. This series provides insight into the design choices or philosophies that guided a particular designer or project. The series is not a complete representation of IDSA members or their work. Rather, it is simply a collection of what survived in IDSA files as a result of special exhibits and promotional mailings that IDSA received.
Employee papers containing private information are subject to a 75-year time seal from the date of their creation.
Litigators may not view the collection without approval.
Materials in Box 23 are stored at Cold Storage and require 48 hours' notice.
Copyright restrictions may apply.
Language of Materials
On Deposit from the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).
Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) audiovisual materials (Accession 2021.203), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Publications received as part of the same accession were transferred to Hagley's Published Collections Department and may be found in Hagley's library catalog.
- Industrial Designers Society of America (Organization)
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) records
- Michael DiCamillo
- Description rules:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description:
- Script of description: