The 2021 Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education to be given to Professor Don Norman

The Committee has announced that the Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education for 2021 will be awarded to Professor Don Norman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of California, San Diego, USA.

Don Norman

He will receive the Medal at a Ceremony to be held at Imperial College London, at 6pm on Tuesday, October 19th 2021, where he will deliver a short address on his philosophy on design education.

Professor Don Norman has dedicated his professional life to advocating the importance of placing humanity as the core value, not only in the education of designers but also in other disciplines, most notably psychology and cognitive science. His mantra ‘to design for the way people behave, not for how we would wish them to behave’ has been a constant inspiration to designers, young and old. He has constantly reminded his readers and students that ‘a brilliant solution to the wrong problem can be worse than no solution at all, and this is as valid to designers as it is to engineers, social scientists, and policy makers.’

Professor Norman’s many books, especially those on design and on psychology have influenced and educated generations of designers. These designers have gone on to transform how individuals experience ‘everyday things’. It is not an exaggeration to say that our world would look and feel very different without his contribution. These books include ‘The Design of Everyday Things’; ‘The Design of Future Things’; ‘Emotional Design’ and ‘Living with Complexity’.

Professor Norman has held many academic posts and is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Sciences and Founding Director of the Design Lab at the University of California; has been conferred with Honorary Doctorates at the Universities of Padua, Delft and San Marino. He is one of the few designers elected to the U.S National Academy of Engineers and is the holder of the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Cognitive Computer Sciences. He has served on numerous Government and University Advisory Boards and worked with, amongst others, Apple Computer, originally as a Fellow, then as Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group. He initiated and is now co-Founder and co-Director of a large multi-year international initiative to propose new curricula for the education of designers, with a distinguished steering committee and over 700 volunteers from all over the world.

The Sir Misha Black Awards Committee, in honouring Professor Norman for his distinguished services to design education, recognise that his approach to innovation resonates far beyond the field of design education and is true to the principles, initially championed by Sir Misha Black in his work, now more than forty-five years ago, at both the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.

“I am greatly honored to receive the Sir Misha Black 2021 Medal. The discipline of design is starting to be recognised for its ability to address core underlying issues facing the world. As a result, we must add both depth and breadth to today’s design curricula so that future designers will be leaders in guiding the future of humankind, applying people-centered thinking to the complex issues of the 21st century.”

Professor Don Norman