James J. Pirkl is Professor Emeritus of industrial design and an internationally
Fellow at Syracuse University's All-University Gerontology Center, he co-authored the influential book, Guidelines and Strategies for Developing Transgenerational Products (Copley, 1988). His last book, Transgenerational Design: Products for an Aging Population (John Wiley & Sons, 1997), was awarded a Gold Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) co-sponsored by the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) and Business Week magazine.
Widely acknowledged as the father of "transgenerational design," a term he coined and defined in 1984, he's been described as a "key figure in universal design" by the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum. In 2003, AARP's The Magazine featured his Transgenerational House project's pioneering design concepts.
A 1951 graduate of Pratt Institute's Advertising Design Program, he earned his BID cum laude in industrial design in 1958 after serving four years in the Sea Bees during the Korean War. Upon graduation in he joined General Motors Design Staff as a Junior Designer, advancing to senior project designer responsible for the "Avenue of Progress" section of the General Motors Futurama pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 1963, he was promoted to assistant chief designer of Frigidaire's Advanced Product Research Studio.
In 1965 he was recruited by Arthur J. Pulos, FIDSA and appointed assistant professor of industrial design at Syracuse University. Promoted to full professor in 1974, Jim was one of five U.S. industrial design educators sponsored by the U.S. State Department who, in 1976 and 1978, conducted invited seminars on industrial design education at the All (Soviet) Union Research Institute of Industrial Design in Moscow and at the Bauhaus in Desseu, East Germany. Named professor-in-charge of industrial design in 1978, he was appointed department chair in 1985 and served until his retirement as Emeritus Professor in 1993.
In addition to his academic responsibilities he served as an industrial design consultant to a wide range of organizations both in the United States and overseas, including Age Wave, Inc., the Arthritis Foundation, Asahikasei Homes Co. (Japan), The Boeing Company, Design Age (London), Ford Motor Design Center, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, McNeil Consumer Products, the National Association of Home Builders, and Xerox Corporation.
A Fellow of
the Industrial Designers Society of America, he served
as a director and as regional vice president.
He chaired its education, accreditation, and universal/ transgenerational
design committees, and In 2001 was awarded the Society's
prestigious Education Award. He is a member of the Author's
Guild, life member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society,
and an accreditation evaluator for the National Association
of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).
Listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in American Art, and Who's Who in Science and Engineering, he lives in Leland, NC with his wife Sarah.