Gideon Kramer

GIDEON KRAMER (1917 - 2012) was an American designer, artist, inventor, teacher, builder, lecturer, and businessman. Long fascinated by the relationship between materials, technology, design, and function, Kramer is recognized as one of America's great industrial designers.

A graduate of the engineering program at Chicago's Institute of Design, Kramer's achievements were myriad: he devised the first truly ergonomic chair (the ION) in 1946, began conceiving radically new truck designs in the early 1950s, and started teaching Industrial Design at the University of Washington in 1957 and architecture workshops at the University of Oregon in 1960. In 1966, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) honored his “outstanding achievement in fine arts, allied professions, [and] craftsmanship in the industrial arts” by bestowing him with their coveted Industrial Arts Medal. Kramer penned essays for the AIA Journal, The Argus, The Arts, the World Institute Journal of the United Nations, and other industrial arts and design publications.

A peer and friend to other Northwest architecture luminaries, including Ibsen Nelsen (1919-2001) and Fred Bassetti (1917-2013), Kramer also contributed to the look of modern Seattle by designing some of the Aquarium's exhibits and preparing a guideline for exhibit development by the Museum of Flight. He also designed futuristic new offices for U.S. Plywood in Seattle and visually stunning cast-aluminum doors for the Scottish Rites Temple. In 1997, Kramer was again honored by the AIA, who touted him as “the Northwest's closest kin to Buckminster Fuller”.

(Source: Peter Blecha + History Link; Image Credit: University of Oregon)