Bill Moggridge, designer of the first laptop, dies at 69Written by Dan Comand Wednesday, 12 September 2012 19:19
Bill Moggridge, designer of the first laptop computer and co-founder of IDEO, the renowned innovation and design firm, died Sept. 8, following a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
A Royal Designer for Industry, 2010 winner of the Prince Philip Designers Prize, and 2009 winner of Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement, Moggridge described his career as having three phases, first as a designer, second as a leader of design teams and third as a communicator. For the first two decades as a designer, he developed his business internationally in 10 countries, designing high-tech products, including the Grid Compass, the first laptop computer, released in 1982. With the co-founding of IDEO in 1991 with David Kelley and Mike Nuttall, he turned his focus to developing practices for interdisciplinary teams and built client relationships with multinational companies. Since 2000, he had been a spokesperson for the value of design in everyday life, writing books, producing videos, giving presentations and teaching, which were further supported by the historical depth and contemporary reach of the museum.
A graduate of the Central School of Design in London, his professional activities included those of advisor to the British government on design education (1974), trustee of the Design Museum in London (1992-1995), visiting professor in interaction design at the Royal College of Art in London (1993) and member of the Steering Committee for the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, Italy (2003). He was the author of Designing Media, published by MIT Press in November 2010, which examines the connections between traditional mainstream media and the emerging digital realm and Designing Interactions, published by MIT Press in October 2006, which explores how interaction design is transforming daily life.
“All of us at the Smithsonian mourn the loss of a great friend, leader and design mind,” said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough. “In his two short years as director of Cooper-Hewitt, Bill transformed the museum into the Smithsonian’s design lens on the world, and we are forever grateful for his extraordinary leadership and contributions.”
As Cooper-Hewitt’s fourth director, Moggridge oversaw the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. In this role, he worked to establish the museum as the pre-eminent national design resource, enhance its profile as one of the world’s leading authorities on the role of design in everyday life and develop and present exhibitions—both real and virtual.
“During his tenure, Bill led the museum to the highest exhibition attendance numbers on record, pioneered bringing design into the K-12 classroom and dramatically increased digital access to the collection through vehicles like the Google Art Project,” said Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture. “His innovative vision for the future of the museum will be realized upon reopening, and his foresight will impact museum visitors and design thinkers of tomorrow. He will be greatly missed.”
Moggridge joined Cooper-Hewitt at a critical juncture, as the museum is enhancing its exhibition and visitor facilities with a fully fundraised $54 million program to increase exhibition space by 60 percent, create a new National Design Library, restore the Carnegie Mansion’s historic structure and accommodate growth of its permanent collection with a new off-site collection-storage and conservation facility. Phase One of the renovation project, involving work on the museum’s two townhouses, was completed in 2011 and includes the new National Design Library, an additional classroom, administrative and curatorial offices, and a new staff and public entrance from 9 East 90th Street. Phase Two, renovation of the Carnegie Mansion, commenced in 2012, and the new Cooper-Hewitt will reopen in 2014.
Moggridge succeeded Paul Thompson, who was Cooper-Hewitt’s director for eight years. Baumann will serve as the acting director.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Karin, and two sons, Alex and Erik.
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