Thursday, 31 July 2014
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Tributes Paid to Bill Moggridge

Interaction design pioneer Bill Moggridge, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in the US has died leading to a flood of industry tributes.

Bill Moggridge

Bill Moggridge

Moggridge, who died on 8 September after a long battle with cancer, was Cooper-Hewitt’s director from 2010-2012.

He is credited with designing the world’s first laptop computer, the GRiD Compass in 1982 and was a co-founder of interactive consultancy IDEO which was set up in 1991.

His lifetime’s work won him the 2010 Prince Philip Designers Prize and he was named as a Royal Designer for Industry, a title awarded to designers of excellence by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce.

Design Council chief design officer and former partner of IDEO Mat Hunter says, ‘Bill Moggridge probably had more effect on my career in design than anyone else.

‘Bringing the social sciences into design, pioneering the field of interaction design and being an empowering, non-hierarchical leader, transformed perceptions of the role, methods and experience of world class design practice. It was a privilege to know and work with him for 20 years.’

Helen Hamlyn design director Jeremy Myerson says that Moggridge was far more than the sum of his design achievements - ‘He was also expert at explaining and curating design, as his landmark book Designing Interactions and his most recent role running the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in New York attest.’

Myerson says, ‘Bill was a personal friend and mentor for 30 years, who encouraged me to set up the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA and who I always enjoyed visiting in his spectacular self-built studio-home in the misty hills above San Francisco.

‘One of my last memories of Bill is his inspirational keynote address to the Include conference at London last year. Bill explained that when he was commissioned to design a marine radio in the 1970s he insisted that he and his design team go out into the North Sea in a storm at night to see how the device was used. That project marked the start of user-centred design and the end of industrial styling.’

Myerson, who ranks Moggridge as ‘one of design’s all time greats,’ says that he was ‘a generous, humorous, amiable adventurer of a man.’

At Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Moggridge ‘worked to establish the museum as the nation’s preeminent design resource,’ according to the museum, which says, ‘He enhanced its profile as one of the world’s leading authorities on the integral role of design in daily life, and developed and presented exhibitions—both real and virtual.’

The Museum has created this tribute.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years Karin and two sons Alex and Erik. 

Readers' comments (6)

  • Not only did Bill effect the profession of design in so many ways, he was an elegant example of how to be a fine person.

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  • Among the many hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who work in design, there are only a few who genuinely lead the way. Bill Moggridge certainly led it but, more importantly, he was instrumental in determining the way in the first place and lighting it for the rest of us. He will be badly missed.

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  • I have known Bill Moggridge since College days.
    He at the Central and me at theRCA. When he decided to move to the USA I bet him he would be back, but I lost my bet. I met him over the years I was Head of Industrial Design at Illinois University and in Chicago. He was an icon of the industrial design world, a brilliant world class designer and he will be sorely missed.

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  • It was a pleasure to work with Bill at the beginning of my career and his mentorship was invaluable. A truly wonderful, modest, friendly man. He will be dearly missed.

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  • Bill above all else was an extremely nice man. He cared greatly about the people he worked with and consequently brought out the best in all his staff.
    A true one off who will be greatly missed.

    Philip Davies
    Former colleague at IDEO London
    Course Director
    Product Design BSc
    Kingston University London

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  • Ditto on what RitaSue said, but wanted to add that due to the totality of this brilliant and game-changing design leader and exceptional person, and through the inspiration and mentorship he provided to so many, his life and legacy go on eternally.

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