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Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Records

An inventory of its records at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: CAK
Date: 3 Sep 1979

Biographical History

The term "industrial designer" originated in the U.S. Patent Office in 1913 as a synonym for the then-current term "art in industry." In 1927 Macy's department store in New York City held a well-attended Exposition of Art in Trade, which featured "modern products," many of them from the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. Public and manufacturer demand for these new "Art Deco" styles immedately surged, and a number of design professionals (including architects, package designers and stage designers) began for the first time to focus their creative efforts on mass-produced products. These professionals adopted the title of "industrial designer."

In the ensuing decades numerous organizations of industrial designers were formed, including the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen (AUDAC, ca. 1928), the National Furniture Designers' Council (NFDC, 1933), the American Designers Institute (ADI, ca. 1937), the Society of Industrial Designers (SID, 1944), the Industrial Designers Institute (IDI, 1951), and the Industrial Design Education Association (IDEA, 1957).

In 1955, SID changed its name to the American Society of Industrial Design (ASID). In 1965, after over ten years of careful negotiations, ASID merged with IDI and IDEA to form the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), thus becoming "the single voice of industrial design in the US."

In 1965 IDSA had approximately 600 members in 10 chapters across the country. Its first Chairman of the Board was John Vassos (1898-1985), the founder of ADI, and its first President was Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972). By 2000, the organization boasted over 3,300 members and 28 chapters.

IDSA's purpose is to "advances the positive impact of design on business and society while directly benefiting members by evolving into the world's most effective design organization." It strives to improve both the field of industrial design (quality, originality, innovation) and the education and careers of its members. IDSA recognizes excellence in the field via its Catalyst Awards and IDEA (International Design Excellence Awards).

[Portions of this summary adapted from IDSA's website,

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Records covers more than thirty years and comprises five series.

General files contains office files from predecessor industrial design organizations (ASID, IDI) as well as files from IDSA itself; topics include among other things advertising, annual meetings, awards, clients and products, committee activities, designs, engineering, international activities, marketing, piracy and patents, public relations, and symposiums. Also here will be found material from related organizations (for example, the American Society of Civil Engineers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Council of Industrial Design, Eastern Arts Association, Folding Paper Box Association, National Society of Interior Designers, Society of Plastics Industry).

Bound materials contains books of meeting minutes, a guest book, scrapbook, and hotel register.

Printed matter consists of brochures, pamphlets, and periodicals of commercial origin and also periodicals and leaflets published by IDSA.

Audio-visual material includes slides, films and tapes relating to industrial design.

In the Memorabilia series will be found logos, membership pins, award certificates, photographs and various pieces of artwork.

Arrangement of the Collection

General files and Bound materials are arranged alphabetically by title/topic. Printed material is subdivided alphabetically by type and then by title. Audiovisual material and Memorabilia are arranged alphabetically by type..


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has numerous collections relating to industrial design. For a complete list, please refer to the SCRC Subject Index .

Subject Headings

Corporate Bodies

American Society of Industrial Designers.
Industrial Designers Society of America.
Industrial Designers' Institute.


Industrial design -- United States.
Industrial designers -- United States.

Genres and Forms

35mm (photographic film size)
Minutes (administrative records)
Slides (photographs)
Sound recordings,


Industrial designers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Records,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

General files

Bound materials

Printed matter

Audio-visual material