Logical Design: Using Primary Sources

As summer camps are winding down, we wanted to share how campers used the collections in the Archives this week. Earlier in the week, my daughter, who is attending Cranbrook Art Museum’s camp session “Problem Solving by Design,” told me of the industrial design concepts they were learning. I immediately thought of the collection of Design Logic, Inc. Records that we have in the Archives, which contain beautiful color transparencies of 3D projects designed in the 1980s by David Gresham and Martin Thayer. (See Cheri Gay’s post.)

Studying the design drawings for the View Master and the Projector, Aug 2015.

Studying the design drawings for the View Master and the Projector, Aug 2015.

The next morning, I spoke with Kanoa, the camp instructor and a 2015 grad of the Academy of Art, and he agreed the photos would be great to show the kids. We coupled them with a copy of the exhibition catalog Cranbrook Design: The New Discourse, which featured several prototypes by Design Logic, as well as by other designers, many of whom studied under Kathy and Michael McCoy here at Cranbrook in the 1980s. The following day, I took the kids to the Art Museum vault to actually look at some of the objects. Kanoa had them do several sketches from different angles, all the while talking about various design concepts. Then the following day of course I had to show them some of Gresham and Thayer’s own design drawings which are also a part of the collection in the Archives. The kids were able to view conceptual sketches through finished drawings that were then sent to the manufacturer.

Sketching objects in the Cranbrook Art Museum vault, Aug 2015.

Sketching objects in the Cranbrook Art Museum vault, Aug 2015.

All in all, I hope it was a great experience for the kids. It certainly was fun for me to be able to enrich their camp experience with primary source materials from Cranbrook Archives.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Form Follows Emotion

View-Master 3D Viewer by Design Logic

View-Master 3D Viewer by Design Logic

This is one of the more successful products created by Design Logic, a product design company whose records I’m currently processing. This View-Master 3D Viewer was a new take on an old, familiar product, and reflected the company’s philosophy that every product has both a technical and emotional element. This new version, created in 1985, featured “push-button technology,” and larger image magnification to make it more technologically competitive with other toys of the era, while maintaining the overall look of its predecessor. Time magazine named it one of the best designs of the year.

Design Logic was founded in 1985 by Cranbrook Art Academy graduate David Gresham, and Martin Thayer, a Royal College of Art graduate; the two worked together at ITT Corporation. Operating out of Chicago, the mission of the company was to “create designs that are functional, beautiful, profitable and based on a distinctively American perspective.” The company is no longer in business.

Once the processing of the Design Logic records is complete, a finding aid will be posted on our web site and more images of their creative, unusual products will be in our digital database, so keep an eye out!

– Cheri Gay, Archivist

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