Tom Hardy (designer)

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Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy (born 1946) is an American design strategist, educator 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 distinguished Ulm School of Design in Germany (Hochschule für Gestaltung - HfG Ulm: 1953-1968).[1][2][3] 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][3] Pfeil had also worked in Bill's studio where she collaborated on the classic 1957 Junghans wall clock design.[4]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][3][5]

Hardy participated in a student team project sponsored by Armco Steel Corporation in cooperation with the Marine Technology Society, Washington D.C. to research and develop design concepts for future ocean systems. [6] Their work traveled to Brighton, England for the Oceanology '69 Exhibition and Conference, followed by a special exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC). [7] During his academic / industry co-op position with Diversified Products, Hardy was involved in modifying an isometric exercise device for NASA called "ExerGym" that accompanied Apollo 11 astronauts on their historic 1969 moon mission. ExerGym was subsequently used by astronauts on all Apollo 12-17 missions and SkyLab II. [8][9][10][11]

IBM Design Program and ThinkPad[edit]

As corporate head of the IBM Design Program,[12][13] Hardy directed worldwide identity operations in concert with distinguished designers Paul Rand [14] and Richard Sapper [15][16]He played a key role in development of the first IBM ThinkPad notebook computer (1992) [17][18][19][20][21][22] 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.[17][21][22][23][24]

Early in his career, Hardy was the industrial designer of numerous award-winning IBM products, [25][26][27][28][29][30]including the original IBM Personal Computer introduced in 1981.[31][32][33] During the 1970s, he also designed advanced industrial design concepts for 'single user computers' during the infancy of personal computing. [33] His work included a design model in 1973 to complement the IBM engineering prototype of SCAMP, dubbed by PC Magazine as "the world's first personal computer".[34][35] Some of these early concepts by Hardy are highlighted in the book DELETE: A Design History of Computer Vapourware.[33] 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." [36]

Design Strategist[edit]

Later an independent consultant, his work with Samsung Electronics [37][38] involved integrating a comprehensive design management system and strategy into the corporate culture[39][40][41] and is cited as a strategic asset that helped elevate the company's global brand image and brand equity value.[42][43][44]

In 2015, Hardy was designated Master of Strategic Branding by DeTao Group in Shanghai, China. DeTao operates a unique 'knowledge capital' business model by inviting notable global experts across diverse fields to join the DeTao Masters platform. The objective is to facilitate engagement of DeTao Masters' expertise as independent consultants in collaborative projects with Chinese companies to increase knowledge and innovation in the greater China region. [45]


Hardy serves as Professor of Design Management and Graduate Coordinator at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). [46] 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) Methods of Contextual Research, (6) Facilitating Creative Thinking, (7) Business and Design Practicum, (8) Collaborative Culture in Design Organizations, (9) Collaborative Experience for Graduate Students, (10) Collaborative Learning Center: Sponsored Projects, (11) M.A. Final Project. [47]

Honors and Recognition[edit]

Awards for his industrial design of IBM products include: Industrial Designers Society of America Gold IDEA - 1980, The Premio Smau Award - 1977 (Italy), iF Product Design Award - 1983 (Germany) and four I.D. Magazine Annual Design Review Awards - 1977, 1981, 1982, 1983. He holds several design patents and his work is on permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC).[25][26][27][28][29][30][31]

In 1992, Hardy was invited by the U.S. Presidential transition team to participate as a member of President Bill Clinton's Roundtable on Design. [48][49] He later testified before the 103rd Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology as to the importance of design to the successful commercialization of technologies and U.S. competitiveness. [50] In 1993 he served as Chair of a National Endowment for the Arts' Design Program working group to propose a White House Council on Design. [51] and in 2000 was appointed to the Presidential Design Awards Jury for Federal Design Achievement in Graphic Design and Industrial/Product Design [52]

The 2007 anniversary issue of PC Magazine highlighted Hardy's innovative management leadership role in the original IBM ThinkPad development process and deemed him 'Innovator of the Year 1992'.[53] In 2016, two products directly influenced by Hardy during his IBM career were selected by Time Magazine as being among "The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time". They are: (#5) the first IBM Personal Computer 5150 and (#21) the iconic IBM ThinkPad 700C. The 50 products were cited by Time as "The tech that forever changed the way we live, work and play". [54]


  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. ^ a b c Spitz, R. (2002) The Ulm School of Design: A View Behind the Foreground, Fellbach: Edition Axel Menges.
  4. ^ Women at the HfG Ulm
  5. ^ Rith, C and Dubberly, H, 'Why Horst W J Rittel Matters', Design Issues, Vol 23, No 1, pp. 72-91
  6. ^ "Student Designers Present New Concepts for Ocean Hardware and Systems", Armco Steel Corporation, Middletown, OH, 1969.
  7. ^ Industrial Design Magazine, May 1969
  8. ^ Woods, W.D., (2008) How Apollo Flew to the Moon, Springer-Praxis Books, pp. 452-453.
  9. ^ Convertino, V.; Sandler, H.,"Exercise Countermeasures for Spacecraft", pp. 253-270, Acta Astronautica, 1995.
  10. ^ "Apollo 15 Flight Journal" , Solo Orbital Operations 2, NASA History Division, 1971.
  11. ^ Fair, J.D., "Diversified Products", The Encyclopedia of Alabama, March 2013.
  12. ^ Aldersey-Williams, H., (1992) World Design: Nationalism and Globalism in Design, New York: Rizzoli.
  13. ^ Nussbaum, B., ″Hot Products: Smart Design is the Common Thread″, Business Week, June 7, 1993.
  14. ^ Heller, S., (1999) Paul Rand, London: Phaidon Press, Limited.
  15. ^ Brandes, U., (1993), Richard Sapper:Tools for Life, Göttingen: Steidl Verlag.
  16. ^ Olivares, J., (2016) Richard Sapper, London: Phaidon Press, Limited.
  17. ^ a b Sakakibara, K., “IBM ThinkPad 700C Notebook Computer Case″, Centre for Design Management - London Business School, 1994.
  18. ^ Dell, D.; Purdy, G., (1999) ThinkPad: A Different Shade of Blue, Indianapolis: Sams/Mcmillan.
  19. ^ Metz, C., ″25 Years of PC Magazine: Year Eleven/1992″, PC Magazine, May 2, 2007
  20. ^ Hamm, Steve, (2008) The Race for Perfect: Inside the Quest to Design the Ultimate Portable Computer, New York: McGraw Hill.
  21. ^ a b Bruce, M.; Jennaker, B., (1998) Management of Strategic Alliances, Sakakibara, K., Chapter 4, New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  22. ^ a b Golden, P., ″Big Blue's Big Adventure. Part 1″[1], Electronic Business, January 1999.
  23. ^ Hardy, T., “Rebuilding Trust: Design Saves the Brand″, Innovation, Summer 1998.
  24. ^ Hardy, T., “Innovation & Chaos”, Design Management Journal, Summer 1994.
  25. ^ a b SMAU. International Information Technology Exhibition: SMAU, (Italy) Product design award: IBM 5230 Data Collection System, 1977.
  26. ^ a b Annual Design Review,I.D. Magazine, Product design award: IBM 5230 Data Collection System, 1977.
  27. ^ a b Industrial Design Excellence - Gold IDEA. Industrial Designers Society of America, Product design award: IBM 5120 Computing System, 1980.
  28. ^ a b 27th Annual Design Review.I.D. Magazine, Product design award: IBM 5120 Computing System, 1981.
  29. ^ a b 29th Annual Design Review.I.D. Magazine, Product design award: IBM System 23-Adjustability Model, 1983.
  30. ^ a b iF, Die Gute Industrieform. Hannover Messe (Germany), Product design award: IBM System 23-Adjustability Model, 1983.
  31. ^ a b 28th Annual Design Review, I.D. Magazine, Designers' Choice: IBM Personal Computer, 1982.
  32. ^ Markis S., ″A 25-Year Trip on the Silicon Highway″ [2], The Edmonton Journal, August 26, 2006.
  33. ^ a b c Atkinson, P, (2013) DELETE: A Design History of Computer Vapourware[3], London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
  34. ^ Friedl, Paul J., "SCAMP: The Missing Link in the PCs Past", PC Magazine, PC 2, No. 6, November, 1983, pp.190-197
  35. ^ SCAMP (Special Computer APL Machine Portable), a prototype name for an IBM advanced microcomputer made in 1973 [4]
  36. ^ Maxwell, P., Zombie Tech, Grafik magazine, March 20, 2014
  37. ^ Edwards, C.; Engardio, P.; Ihlwan, M., "The Samsung Way", Business Week, June 16, 2003.
  38. ^ Chung, K.; Freeze, K., “Design Strategy at Samsung Electronics: Becoming a Top-Tier Company″, Design Management Institute Case Study - Harvard Business School Publishing, 2008.
  39. ^ Delaney, M.; Hardy, T.; McFarland, J.; Yoon, G., ″Global Localization″, Innovation, Summer 2002.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ Buchanan, L., "From Cheap to WOW", Case Study, Thunderbird School of Global Management, 2005.
  42. ^ Bremmer, B.; Ihlwan, M., ″Cool Korea″ [5], Business Week, June 10, 2002.
  43. ^ Chung, K.; Hardy, T.; So, S., ″Strategic Realization″ [6], Design Management Journal, Winter 2000.
  44. ^ Nussbaum, B., “The Hungriest Tiger”, Business Week, June 2, 1997.
  45. ^ "DeTao Group". 
  46. ^ "SCAD Design Management Faculty". 
  47. ^ Catalog, Savannah College of Art and Design. Programs of Study: School of Design, Design Management Program: Faculty
  48. ^ Brown, P., "Political Design? Well, Yes.", The New York Times, December 10, 1992.
  49. ^ Perlman, C.; Sorkin, M.; Woodward, S., ″Dear Mr. President: Answering Clinton's Call for a Design Strategy in America″, I.D. Magazine, March - April, 1993.
  50. ^ ″Establishment of a Design Council in the Department of Commerce″, Hearing Before the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, U.S House of Representatives: 103rd Congress, Second Session. June 21, 1994.
  51. ^ "A Proposal for a White House Council on Design: A Strategy to Harness the Power of Design", National Endowment for the Arts Design Program, June 1994.
  52. ^ "Presidential Design Awards 2000" by General Services Administration and National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C., Page 31, 2000.
  53. ^ ″25 Years of PC Magazine: Year Eleven, 1992″, PC Magazine, May 22, 2007.
  54. ^ Eadicicco, L, Fitzpatrick, A., Howorth, C., Luckerson, V., Peckham, M., Pullen, J. P., Raab, J., Vella. M. ″The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time″ [7]Time, May 3, 2016.

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