David M. Kelley

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David M. Kelley
Born (1951-02-10) February 10, 1951 (age 68) [1]
Alma materCarnegie Mellon University (BSEE, 1973)
Stanford University (M.S., Design, 1977)
OccupationBusinessman, designer, engineer, professor
Known forEngineering design, founder of Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University
Spouse(s)Katharine C. Branscomb
RelativesTom Kelley (brother)

David M. Kelley (born February 10, 1951) is an American businessman, entrepreneur, designer, engineer, and teacher. He is founder of the design firm IDEO and a professor at Stanford University. He has received several honors for his contributions to design and design education.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Kelley was born in Barberton, Ohio. His brother is Tom Kelley, the General Manager of IDEO and author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 1973, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, He is married to Katharine C. Branscomb, a former CEO of IntelliCorp, whom he met through mutual friend Steve Jobs.[3]

Work in industry[edit]

Kelley began work as an engineer, first at Boeing and later at NCR.[2] At Boeing, he was responsible for the design of the Lavatory Occupied sign for the 747 airplane.[4] This experience led him to return to school. In 1977, he earned his master's degree from the Joint Program in Design at Stanford University, popularly called the Product Design program.[5] In 1978, he partnered with another Stanford Product Design graduate, Dean Hovey, to form Hovey-Kelley Design. Hovey left to pursue other interests and the firm was renamed "David Kelley Design" (DKD).[6]

In 1984, he co-founded Onset Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. He also co-founded Edge Innovations, the special-effects company responsible for the whales in the Free Willy movies, among many other film credits.[7] In 1991, Kelley merged DKD with three other design firms (Mike Nuttall's Matrix Product Design in Palo Alto, ID TWO in San Francisco, and Moggridge Associates in London, the latter two founded by Bill Moggridge) to create IDEO, which he ran as CEO until 2000.

Work in education[edit]

Kelley began teaching in the Stanford Product Design program in 1978, after earning his master's. He was briefly a PhD student.[8] In 1990, he became a tenured professor, and was named the Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering in 2002.[5] In 2004, Kelley led the creation of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, known as the "d.school."[9]

Books, talks, and honors[edit]

David Kelley has been recognized as one of America's leading design innovators.

In 2013, David and his brother Tom Kelley published Creative Confidence,[10] which a Forbes review called "an empowering, compelling, relentlessly hopeful and optimistic read."[11]

In 2012, Kelley spoke on building creative confidence at TED 2012.[12] He had earlier spoken at TED 2002 on human-centered design.[13]

In 2009, he was awarded the Edison Achievement Award by the Thomas Edison Papers at Rutgers University for his “pioneering contributions to the design of breakthrough products, services, and experiences for consumers, as well as his development of an innovative culture that has broad impact.”[14]

In 2005, he was recognized for his "distinguished contribution to design education" with the Sir Misha Black Medal.[15]

In 2001, the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum presented David Kelley and IDEO with the National Design Award in Product Design.[16]

In 2000, he was honored with a Chrysler Design Award, [17] and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for "affecting the practice of design."[2]

In 2019, he was conferred an honorary Doctor of Science and Technology by his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University.[18]


  1. ^ "IDEO's David Kelley on Love and Money". Fast Company. 2011-02-14. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  2. ^ a b c "David Kelley elected to National Academy of Engineering". Stanford University News Release. 2000-03-01. Retrieved 2015-02-15.
  3. ^ "Ideo's David Kelley on 'Design Thinking'". Fast Company. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  4. ^ "School of Bright Ideas". Time Magazine. 2005-03-06. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  5. ^ a b "David Kelley bio". Stanford d.school website. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  6. ^ "David Kelley interview – Founding Hovey-Kelley". Making the Macintosh: Technology and Culture in Silicon Valley. 2000-07-24. Archived from the original on 2012-09-20. Retrieved 2012-09-01.
  7. ^ "Free Willy? Free the engineers". Palo Alto Daily. 1994-10-26. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  8. ^ "Successful Stanford Dropouts: Quitters Sometimes Prosper". Bob Sutton: Work Matters. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  9. ^ "Sparks Fly". Stanford Magazine. March–April 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  10. ^ Creative Confidence
  11. ^ "Creative Confidence: Tom And David Kelley's Compelling How-To Guide For Optimistic Doing". Forbes. Nov 26, 2013. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  12. ^ "TED 2012: David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence". May 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  13. ^ "TED 2002: David Kelley on human-centered design". February 2002. Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  14. ^ "Edison Achievement Awards list of winners". Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  15. ^ "Sir Misha Black Medal list of recipients". Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  16. ^ "Cooper-Hewitt: IDEO Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection". 2005-12-05. Archived from the original on 2013-04-14. Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  17. ^ "Chrysler Design Awards Dropped After 10 Years". New York Times. 2003-06-05. Retrieved 2012-07-27.
  18. ^ "Tony & Grammy Winner Leslie Odom, Jr. To Deliver Commencement Address". www.cmu.edu. Carnegie Mellon University. 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2019-04-03.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]