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1933 - CHICAGO EXPOSITION EXHIBIT - Donald R.Dohner, director of the art-engineering department at Westinghouse paints the last of the tiny models in the miniature of his company's exhibit at the Century of Progress Exposition


E&MP 40.037

Electric Transformers

ca. June 1933

Donald R.Dohner, director of the art-engineering department at Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, paints the last of the tiny models in the miniature of his company's exhibit at the "Century of Progress" Exposition which opens at Chicago on June 1.

The exhibit model, 1/80 of actual size, is complete in every detail. Westinghouse will occupy 6,000 square feet of floor space to show some of the latest developments in electrical engineering.

Original Caption by Science Service
© Westinghouse

Additional Information:

A US industrial designer, Donald R.Dohner grew up in Indiana and studied at John Herron Art Institute, Indianapolis, the Academy of Fine Arts, Chicago, and Chicago Art Institute. In 1918 he went to Pittsburgh to study set design at Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT), but while waiting for classes to begin, took a teaching job as Industrial Arts instructor in the Pittsburgh public school system, then became a faculty member of CIT (now Carnegie Mellon University).

He started with Westinghouse as a design consultant in 1926, teaching there as an "Art Engineer", and was hired as Director of Art in the engineering department of its Heavy Industry Division in 1929. He and his staff of eight contributed to the design of 128 products, including electric ranges, diesel-electric locomotives, water coolers, and ash trays. In 1934, he left Westinghouse and initiated the world's first degreed program in industrial design at CIT.

He left there in 1935 to initiate a similar program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, becoming its Supervisor. In 1943 he opened a design office, Dohner and Lippincott, with J. Gordon Lippincott.

Dohner died tragically on Christmas Eve 1943 and was replaced in 1944 at Pratt by Alexander Kostellow.

Courtesy: Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)

Industrial Design at Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1934-1967
Jim Lesko - Journal of Design History, Vol. 10, No. 3 (1997), pp. 269-292
This article seeks to reconstruct the history of the Industrial Design (ID) programme at Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT). Established in 1934, CIT's programme was the first of its kind in the United States. Eye witnesses such as the first ever graduate in ID, Maud Bowers, and Professor Robert Lepper, on the faculty from 1930 to 1975, shared their memories with the author in order to establish a more reliable account of the initial stages of the programme. Donald Dohner, who taught at CIT until 1935, emerges as mainly responsible for the curriculum which for the most part is still being used by most ID programmes in the United States. He therefore rightly deserves the title 'Father of Industrial Design Education in America'. Finally, this study will explore how the programme eventually developed and in which way it changed its direction relative to its original philosophy.


National Museum of American History


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