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Charles Harrison wins the Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles Harrison wins the Lifetime Achievement Award
16 May 2008


Charles Harrison wins the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design
Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-term contribution to
contemporary design practice.

Charles Harrison, an industrial designer at Sears, Roebuck & Company for more than three decades, improved the quality of life of millions of Americans through the extraordinary breadth and innovation of his product designs. One of the first African Americans to enter the design field, Harrison began working for Sears in 1961 and eventually became the company’s Chief Designer. During his distinguished career, Harrison maintained an unwavering commitment to the needs of the average consumer, creating an astonishing 750 products—from radios and sewing machines to hair dryers—for nearly every area of the home. Among his most iconic designs are the first-of-its-kind plastic garbage can, a lighter, more durable alternative to its metal counterpart; and a redesign of the now classic View-Master. Harrison currently teaches design at Columbia College in Chicago.


View-Master - 1958 

Manufacturer: Sawyer Manufacturing, Portland, OR

Design Firm: Robert Podall Associates, Chicago, IL.

(photo: Joeffrey Trimmingham)


Garbage Can - 1963 

Manufacturer: GaTX, Michigan City, IN. 

Designed for Sears Roebuck & Company, Chicago, IL.

(photo: Charles Harrison)


Compact Sewing Machine and Carrying Case - 1978 

Charles Harrison (USA), Ted Nishigami (Japan) and Kenneth Grange (UK) 

Manufactured for Sears Roebuck & Company in Japan by Maruzen Sewing Machine Company


Hard Bonnet Tabletop Hair Dryer (before and after) - 1977 

Sears Roebuck & Company 

(photo: Charles Harrison)


His book 'A Life’s Design: The Life and Work of Industrial Designer Charles Harrison' tells the hidden story behind some of America’s most iconic housewares.

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