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Budd Steinhilber Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 13 Sep 2007

Biographical History

Budd Steinhilber (1924-2021) was an American industrial designer and environmental activist.

Born in New York City, Steinhilber graduated with Honors from Pratt Institute in 1943. His first job was with Raymond Loewy Associates in New York City, but after only a year he left to become one of the first two employees of Dohner & Lippincott (later J. Gordon Lippincott & Co. and then Lippincott & Margulies). In 1947 Budd worked on the team that designed the short-lived Tucker automobile, producing drawings, models, and design prototypes.

Soon after this, Steinhilber joined with a Lippincott colleague, his friend and fellow Pratt graduate Read Viemeister, to form Vie Design Studios, based in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Vie's clients included the Antioch Summer Shakespeare Festival, for whom Steinhilber eventually designed sets for every one of Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays, an achievement unmatched by any other designer thus far. (Steinhilber also appeared onstage in several productions.) In 1951 Vie served as consultant to Steinhilber's former employer, Lippincott & Margulies, on designs for the crew and officer's quarters for the USS Nautilus nuclear submarine.

In 1964, Steinhilber and well-known West Coast industrial designer Gene Tepper formed Tepper & Steinhilber Associates based in California. T&S was among the first to work with the then-new Silicon Valley electronics industry, designing console interfaces, optical disk storage units, video cameras, and a number of innovative medical devices.

Ten years later Steinhilber and graphic designer Barry Deutsch formed Steinhilber & Deutsch, Inc. S&D's clients ran the gamut of American businesses, including Atari, Campbell's, Gallo Vineyards, Intel, Nabisco, Pabst, Northface, and Warner Communications. The firm's work won numerous awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York Art Director's Club, San Francisco Art Director's Club, and International Design Review, and has been featured in many popular and trade publications including Product Design Annual, Japan Design, Graphics USA, AdWeek, and International Design. In 1984 Steinhilber was named a fellow of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).

In 1987 Steinhilber "retired" and moved to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. His interest in alternative fuel vehicles led him to serve as design advisor to the Konawaena High School's award-winning solarmobile team in the 1990 World Solar Challenge. (The team later went on to the Swiss Tour de Sol, and drove their car across the United States from coast to coast entirely on solar power.). That same year he founded IDSA's Environmental Responsibility Committee, and in 1991 IDSA honored him at its national convention for his efforts to awaken the profession to environmental concerns. He was one of two U.S. delegates invited to participate in a seminar on "The Eco-Design of Products" (Delft, Holland 1991) and appeared on NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw to discuss waste reduction through "design for disassembly." In 1998 he founded Personal Electric Transports (PET) to develop concepts and prototypes for battery-powered motorscooters and other small vehicles. He served as delegate to two international climate conferences, the U.N. Conference on Global Climate Change (Kyoto, 1997) and the U.N. Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002), demonstrating some of PET's prototypes at the latter. In February 2007 he was invited to speak on "Designing Sustainable Mobility," along with Jay Baldwin of the Buckminster Fuller Insitute and Dr. Paul Macready, designer of the Gossamer Condor and EV-1.

Steinhilber has been honored many times both for his design work and for his contributions to the field in general. He has received IDSA's Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) twice (1981 and 1984); he also served on the IDEA jury in 2004. In recognition of his efforts on behalf of the environment he received a $20,000 "Distinguished Designer Fellowship" grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (1991) and his alma mater, Pratt Institute, awarded him an Alumni Achievement Award (1993).

Steinhilber was also an artist; his watercolors have been shown at the Dayton Art Institute, the Thomas Watson Gallery in New York, and many other California and Hawaii venues.

Steinhilber was married twice and had three children. He died on 25 January 2021 in Greenbrae, California, at the age of 96.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Budd Steinhilber Papers consist of biographical material, artwork, clippings, photographs, slides, digital photographs, and writings.

Biographical material contains an autobiographical narrative, including some family photographs, that covers the first forty years of the designer's life.

Artwork contains Steinhilber's designs of postcards, brochures, and birthday cards. Also includes his comics and two watercolors.

Clippings regard Steinhilber and his designs as well as his work as an environmentalist.

Memorabilia contains awards, brochures, digital photographs, photographs, and slides. Also includes memorabilia related to Steinhilber's time at Mancos Work Camp in Colorado as a conscientious objector of World War II. Digital photographs contains digital representations of all 500+ slides in JPEG (jpg) format. One DVD contains archive-quality high-resolution suitable for reproduction or publication; one CD-ROM contains lower-resolution for quick reference. Slides contains more than 500 35mm slides, arranged chronologically, covering Steinhilber's entire career. Of particular interest are the photographs of Steinhilber's work on the 1948 Tucker automobile, which include newspaper ads, sketches, clay models, front and rear end treatments, and prototypes. Also included are a few photos of a restored Tucker owned by filmmaker George Lucas. Other clients represented on the slides include Greyhound, Bell Aircraft (personal helicopter, 1946), Antioch College and Shakespeare Festival (signs, catalogs, programs, 1950s), General Electric (shipping cartons, 1962), Lockheed (data entry console, 1967), MultMode Transit System (electric car, 1967), Fresno Air Terminal (signage, 1970s), Atari (exhibit booth and staging, 1970s-80s), Pabst (can and bottle designs, 1984), several California vineyards (labels and packaging, 1980s), and Christen Industries (biplane and other aircraft components and miscellany, 1977). Also included here is a detailed index to the slides provided by the donor.

Writings contains three of Steinhilber's writings. There is an essay about the environment, a letter about excluding religion from school, and an incomplete essay about technology.

Arrangement of the Collection

Material is arranged alphabetically. Slides and digital files are in original order.


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.

Access to audiovisual material requires advance notice to produce a use copy.

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 the papers of a number of important industrial designers including Egmont Arens, Lurelle Guild, Tucker Madawick, Jerome Moberg, Arthur Pulos, Jens Risom, Walter Dorwin Teague, John Vassos, Russell Wright, and many others. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Steinhilber, Budd.

Corporate Bodies

Mancos Project (U.S.)
Personal Electronic Transports
Steinhilber & Deutsch, Inc.
Tepper & Steinhilber Associates
Vie Design Studios


Art, American -- 20th century.
Communication in design.
Conscientious objectors.
Ecological engineering.
Graphic arts.
Graphic design (Typography)
Industrial design -- United States.
Industrial designers -- United States.
New products -- Design
Packaging -- Design
Product engineering
Sustainable engineering.
Tucker automobile.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Comics (documents)
Digital images.
Slides (photographs)


Industrial designers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Budd Steinhilber Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Budd Steinhilber, 2007.

Mancos Work Camp material, awards, drawings, jazz band photographs, and writings are a gift of Julie Steinhilber, 2021.

Table of Contents

Biographical material