David M. Kelley

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David M. Kelley
David M Kelley (9375796736) (cropped).jpg
David M. Kelley in 2012
Born (1951-02-10) February 10, 1951 (age 71)[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
RelativesTom Kelley (brother)

David M. Kelley (born February 10, 1951) is an American engineer, designer, entrepreneur, businessman, and educator. He is co-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, [3][4] and is the brother of Tom Kelley, the general manager of IDEO and author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation.[5] He earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 1973,[3] where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He later completed a master's degree in design at Stanford University in 1977. 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.[6] 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.[7] 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).[8]

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.[9] 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 as an educator[edit]

Kelley began teaching in the Stanford Product Design program in 1978, after earning his master's. He was briefly a PhD student.[10] In 1990, he became a tenured professor, and was named the Donald W. Whittier Professor in Mechanical Engineering in 2002.[7] In 2004, Kelley led the creation of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, known as the "d.school."[11] For his contributions to the practice and study of design, Kelley has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Dartmouth and ArtCenter College of Design.[12][13]

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,[14] which a Forbes review called "an empowering, compelling, relentlessly hopeful and optimistic read."[15]

In 2012, Kelley spoke on building creative confidence at TED 2012.[16] He had earlier spoken at TED 2002 on human-centered design.[17]

In 2009, he was awarded the Edison Achievement Award 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."[18]

In 2005, he was recognized for his "distinguished contribution to design education" with the Sir Misha Black Medal.[19]

In 2001, the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum presented David Kelley and IDEO with the National Design Award in Product Design.[20]

In 2000, he was honored with a Chrysler Design Award,[21] and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for "the creation of products of diversity and 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.[22]

In 2020, he received the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education from the National Academy of Engineering “for formalizing the principles and curriculum of ‘design thinking’ to develop innovative engineering leaders with empathy and creative confidence to generate high-impact solutions.”[23]


  1. ^ "IDEO's David Kelley on Love and Money". Fast Company. February 14, 2011. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "David Kelley elected to National Academy of Engineering". Stanford University News Release. March 1, 2000. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Ideo's David Kelley on 'Design Thinking'". Fast Company. January 14, 2009. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  4. ^ Whiting, Sam (June 10, 2007). "David M. Kelley's journey from designing Apple's mouse to fostering creative thinking". SFGate. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Schawbel, Dan. "David And Tom Kelley: How To Gain Creative Confidence At Work". Forbes. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  6. ^ "School of Bright Ideas". Time. March 6, 2005. Archived from the original on November 24, 2006. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "David Kelley bio". Stanford d.school website. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  8. ^ "David Kelley interview – Founding Hovey-Kelley". Making the Macintosh: Technology and Culture in Silicon Valley. July 24, 2000. Archived from the original on September 20, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  9. ^ "Free Willy? Free the engineers". Palo Alto Daily. October 26, 1994. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  10. ^ "Successful Stanford Dropouts: Quitters Sometimes Prosper". Bob Sutton: Work Matters. August 21, 2007. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  11. ^ "Sparks Fly". Stanford Magazine. March–April 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  12. ^ "Recent Honorary Degree Recipients".
  13. ^ "David Kelley".
  14. ^ Creative Confidence
  15. ^ "Creative Confidence: Tom And David Kelley's Compelling How-To Guide For Optimistic Doing". Forbes. November 26, 2013. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  16. ^ "TED 2012: David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence". May 2012. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  17. ^ "TED 2002: David Kelley on human-centered design". February 2002. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  18. ^ "Edison Achievement Awards list of winners". Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  19. ^ "Sir Misha Black Medal list of recipients". Archived from the original on December 29, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  20. ^ "Cooper-Hewitt: IDEO Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection". December 5, 2005. Archived from the original on April 14, 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  21. ^ "Chrysler Design Awards Dropped After 10 Years". The New York Times. June 5, 2003. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  22. ^ "Tony & Grammy Winner Leslie Odom, Jr. To Deliver Commencement Address". cmu.edu. Carnegie Mellon University. April 2, 2019. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  23. ^ "2020 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education Awarded to Stanford Educator". NAE Website. Retrieved June 9, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

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