Tom Hardy (designer)

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Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy (born 1946) is an American design strategist and former corporate head of the IBM Design Program.


Tom Hardy was educated in industrial design at Auburn University (1964–1970) under Eva Pfeil (German) and Walter Schaer (Swiss), former students at the Ulm School of Design in Germany (Hochschule für Gestaltung - HfG Ulm: 1953-1968).[1][2] Pfeil and Schaer established their curriculum at Auburn in 1961 based on the ′Ulm Model′ and their experiences under Max Bill (Swiss), co-founder of HfG and pupil at the Bauhaus (1919–1933) and Tomás Maldonado (Argentinian), HfG Rector and advocate of systems-thinking.[1][2] Pfeil had also worked in Bill's studio where she collaborated on the classic 1957 Junghans wall clock.[3]A major influence on the Auburn curriculum established by Pfeil and Schaer was the seminal teaching of Horst Rittel, HfG professor (1958-1963), whose courses included design methods, cybernetics, operational analysis and communication theory.[1][2][4]

Hardy's graduate studies at Georgia Institute of Technology's School of History, Technology, & Society (1995-96) focused on broad socio-historical perspectives as sources of analysis to address issues of technology, science and industry as they affect human society.

IBM Design Program and ThinkPad[edit]

As corporate head of the IBM Design Program,[5][6] Hardy directed worldwide identity operations in concert with distinguished designers Paul Rand [7] and Richard Sapper [8] He played a key role in development of the first IBM ThinkPad notebook computer (1992) [9][10][11][12][13][14] together with a new differentiated product personality strategy which focused on providing more unique character to help revitalize IBM's brand image in the 1990s.[9][13][14][15][16]

Early in his career, Hardy was the industrial designer of numerous award-winning IBM products, [17][18][19][20][21][22]including the original IBM Personal Computer introduced in 1981.[23][24]During the 1970s, he also designed advanced industrial design concepts for 'single user computers' during the infancy of personal computing. [25] His work included a design model in 1973 to complement the IBM engineering prototype of SCAMP, dubbed by PC World as "the world's first portable computer".[26] Some of these early concepts by Hardy are highlighted in the book DELETE: A Design History of Computer Vapourware.[25] In reviewing DELETE, Peter Maxwell of Grafik magazine declared, "Tom Hardy's IBM Yellow Bird and Aquarius computers are each as beguiling an arrangement of keys, buttons and bright plastic as anything Ettore Sottsass ever produced for Olivetti." [27]

Other Influences[edit]

During the course of his 22 years at IBM, Hardy crossed paths with Eliot Noyes, Edward Tufte, Ivan Chermayeff, Saul Bass, Henry Wolf, George Nelson and Niels Diffrient.[28][29] Interaction with these prominent designers, in addition to Rand and Sapper, would cultivate his design perspective. Likewise, Hardy's insight into the symbolic structure of popular culture would be broadened by time spent in London with renowned artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi who was a major influence in the Pop Art movement.[30]

Design Strategist[edit]

Later an independent consultant, Hardy created Verbal-Visual Framework (VVF); a brand-design management tool which combines qualitative and quantitative research with semiotics and predictive analytics. VVF delivers insights as to how brand intent resonates emotionally with consumers through design in a cultural context. Hardy's work includes Samsung Electronics [31][32] where his integration of a comprehensive design management system and design strategy into the corporate infrastructure [33][34][35] is cited as a strategic asset that helped elevate the company's global brand image and brand equity value.[36][37][38]


Hardy serves as Adjunct Professor of Design Management at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Courses taught are: (1) Idea Management in Business, (2) Design Futures: Trends, Foresight and Intuition, (3) History and Interpretation of Innovation, (4) The Human Factor: Design-Thinking, (5) Collaborative Culture in Design Organizations, (6) Collaborative Experience for Graduate Students, (7) Collaborative Learning Center: Sponsored Projects.[39]


  1. ^ a b c Ulm School of Design | HfG Ulm Archive
  2. ^ a b c Lindinger, H., (1991), Ulm Design: The Morality of Objects, Cambridge: The MIT Press.
  3. ^ Women at the HfG Ulm
  4. ^ Rith, C and Dubberly, H, 'Why Horst W J Rittel Matters', Design Issues, Vol 23, No 1, pp. 72-91
  5. ^ Aldersey-Williams, H., (1992) World Design: Nationalism and Globalism in Design, New York: Rizzoli.
  6. ^ Nussbaum, B., ″Hot Products: Smart Design is the Common Thread″, Business Week, June 7, 1993.
  7. ^ Heller, S., (1999) Paul Rand, London: Phaidon Press, Limited.
  8. ^ Brandes, U., (1993), Richard Sapper:Tools for Life, Göttingen: Steidl Verlag.
  9. ^ a b Sakakibara, K., “IBM ThinkPad 700C Notebook Computer Case″, Centre for Design Management - London Business School, 1994.
  10. ^ Dell, D.; Purdy, G., (1999) ThinkPad: A Different Shade of Blue, Indianapolis: Sams/Mcmillan.
  11. ^ Metz, C., ″25 Years of PC Magazine: Year Eleven/1992″, PC Magazine, May 2, 2007
  12. ^ Hamm, Steve, (2008) The Race for Perfect: Inside the Quest to Design the Ultimate Portable Computer, New York: McGraw Hill.
  13. ^ a b Bruce, M.; Jennaker, B., (1998) Management of Strategic Alliances, Sakakibara, K., Chapter 4, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  14. ^ a b Golden, P., ″Big Blue's Big Adventure. Part 1″[1], Electronic Business, January 1999.
  15. ^ Hardy, T., “Rebuilding Trust: Design Saves the Brand″, Innovation, Summer 1998.
  16. ^ Hardy, T., “Innovation & Chaos”, Design Management Journal, Summer 1994.
  17. ^ Premio SMAU. International Information Technology Exhibition: SMAU, (Italy) Product design award: IBM 5230 Data Collection System, 1977.
  18. ^ 23rd Annual Design Review,I.D. Magazine, Product design award: IBM 5230 Data Collection System, 1977.
  19. ^ Industrial Design Excellence - Gold IDEA. Industrial Designers Society of America, Product design award: IBM 5120 Computing System, 1980.
  20. ^ 27th Annual Design Review.I.D. Magazine, Product design award: IBM 5120 Computing System, 1981.
  21. ^ 29th Annual Design Review.I.D. Magazine, Product design award: IBM System 23-Adjustability Model, 1983.
  22. ^ iF, Die Gute Industrieform. Hannover Messe (Germany), Product design award: IBM System 23-Adjustability Model, 1983.
  23. ^ 28th Annual Design Review, I.D. Magazine, Designers' Choice: IBM Personal Computer, 1982.
  24. ^ Markis S., ″A 25-Year Trip on the Silicon Highway″ [2], The Edmonton Journal, August 26, 2006.
  25. ^ a b Atkinson, P, (2013) DELETE: A Design History of Computer Vapourware[3], London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  26. ^ Littman, J., "The World's First Portable Computer", PC World, October, 1983, p.296
  27. ^ Grafik magazine, March 20, 2014 | Zombie Tech
  28. ^ Chermayeff, I; Geismar, T; Geissbuhler, S., (2003) Designing:, New York; Graphis, Inc.
  29. ^ Bruce, G., (2006) Eliot Noyes, London: Phaidon Press Limited.
  30. ^ Livingstone, M., (1990), Pop Art: A Continuing History, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
  31. ^ Edwards, C.; Engardio, P.; Ihlwan, M., "The Samsung Way", Business Week, June 16, 2003.
  32. ^ Chung, K.; Freeze, K., “Design Strategy at Samsung Electronics: Becoming a Top-Tier Company″, Design Management Institute Case Study - Harvard Business School Publishing, 2008.
  33. ^ Delaney, M.; Hardy, T.; McFarland, J.; Yoon, G., ″Global Localization″, Innovation, Summer 2002.
  34. ^ Krishnan, R.; Kumar, K., ″Capturing Value in Global Markets: The Case of Samsung Electronics″, SCMS Journal of Indian Management - Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, October - December, 2005.
  35. ^ Buchanan, L., "From Cheap to WOW", Case Study, Thunderbird School of Global Management, 2005.
  36. ^ Bremmer, B.; Ihlwan, M., ″Cool Korea″ [4], Business Week, June 10, 2002.
  37. ^ Chung, K.; Hardy, T.; So, S., ″Strategic Realization″ [5], Design Management Journal, Winter 2000.
  38. ^ Nussbaum, B., “The Hungriest Tiger”, Business Week, June 2, 1997.
  39. ^ Catalog, Savannah College of Art and Design. Programs of Study: School of Design, Design Management Program: Faculty

See Also[edit]

External Links[edit]