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Charles L. Owen

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Charles L. Owen

Charles L. (Chuck) Owen was Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Design, where he conducted research and taught until 2010 in the MDes, MDM, and PhD Design graduate programs. ID honored Chuck with a memorial event in 2019, just after his passing.

He joined the Illinois Tech faculty in 1965 following studies for degrees in chemistry and product design, additional studies in city planning and computer science, and four years as an officer in the U.S. Navy. Then he worked in the fields of product design, design planning, computer-supported design, design methodology and design theory—directing the product design program for 20 years, founding and directing the Design Processes Laboratory for 14 years, publishing the Design Processes Newsletter for 10 years, and teaching, conducting research and consulting (in the last 20 years with the U.S. Air Force, Doblin, Steelcase, Kohler Company, Protohaus DTB, and the New Zealand government). He has acted as advisor to several universities in the U.S. and abroad and served on the advisory boards of the journals: Visible Language (U.S.), Design Recherche (France), Design Studies (U.K.), ARCOS (Brazil), Asia Design Journal (Korea), Journal of Design Excellence (Malaysia), Journal of Design Research, and the Wiley International Book Series on Design.

Professor Owen wrote a number of computer programs for business and institutional applications, published widely (over 150 papers, articles, book chapters and books), served on international juries, and was an invited lecturer at over 200 institutions in the US and abroad. Among the many awards his students have won are two Grand Prizes in the Japan Design Foundation’s International Design Competition, the Grand Prize in Sony Corporation’s International Design Vision Competition, and the 1991 Grand Award in the Environmental Technology category of Popular Science’s “The Year’s 100 Greatest Achievements in Science and Technology.” In 1990 he was the recipient of the American Center for Design’s Education Award for his contributions to design history, theory, and practice. In 1995 he was honored at Illinois Tech with recognition as Distinguished Professor of Design. In 1997 he was elected Honorary Member of the Japanese Society for the Science of Design, the first in its 44-year history. In 1999 the Institute of Design honored his work by establishing an endowed chair for design research in his name, and he was named one of 36 “IIT People of the Millennium” for his contributions. In 2007 he was named Honorary Fellow by the International Design Research Society.

He was an international consultant to industry, institutions, and government on concept development and structured planning. His last book, Structured Planning: Advanced Planning for Business, Institutions and Government, was published in 2007.

Awards and media mentions