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Feb 18, 2021 By IIDA HQ
IIDA Celebrates Black History in Design
Influential Black designers have impacted and continue to impact the world of design. Join us in exploring the work and careers of designers including Charles "Chuck" Harrison, Ann Lowe, Emmett McBain, and Leroy Winbush.
By IIDA HQ Feb 18, 2021
Published in IIDA HQ

Influential Black designers from across many fields have impacted the history of the world of design. Join us in exploring and paying homage to the work and careers of historical Black designers such as Charles "Chuck" Harrison, Ann Lowe, Emmett McBain, and Leroy Winbush.

Charles "Chuck" Harrison

Born in 1931 Charles “Chuck” Harrison, an industrial designer and Louisiana native, was the first African-American executive to work at Sears, Roebuck and Company, as a designer and ultimately manager of the company's design group. That plastic garbage can, dozens of styles of sewing machines, and the iconic orange View-Master, were all designed by “Chuck” Harrison.

In 2008 the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum gave Harrison a Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of an individual who has made a profound, long-term contribution to contemporary design practice." Read more about his legacy.

Ann Lowe

From being born into a family of seamstresses in Montgomery, Alabama to having her work featured in renowned museum collections including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ann Lowe is no longer the fashion design world's "best kept secret," as once described by the Saturday Evening Post.


Take a stroll through her work, including dresses for the entire bridal party of Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding to then senator John F. Kennedy.

Emmett McBain

Emmett McBain, born in 1935, was a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and also studied at the Ray-Vogue College of Design and American Academy of Art. He became a designer for Vince Cullers and Associates, the first Black-owned ad agency. McBain's work had great impact on Black representation in advertising—he designed almost 75 record covers by the time he was 24.

Learn more
about Emmett McBain, a talented advertiser, and artist.

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“In the life of an ad man, you can be well paid but you’ll likely do a lot of trivial work. Emmett did work that mattered.”
Bruce Bendinger, Foote, Cone and Belding
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Bruce Bendinger, Foote, Cone and Belding

Leroy Winbush

The first Black member and president of the Art Directors Club of Chicago, Winbush was an accomplished designer. He got his start as a sign painting apprentice in Chicago and went on to become the only Black employee at Goldblatt’s Department Store, eventually becoming the art director, revolutionizing window displays in the 40’s. He became one of the country’s top airbrush artists, and established his own firm, Winbush Associates (later Winbush Designs). As art director at Johnson Publishing Company he helped to create the first issue of Ebony, and designed for Jet and other publications. He taught visual communications at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and typography at Columbia College Chicago.

Learn more about Winbush, 2008 AIGA medalist.

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I fill space with imagination.
Leroy Winbush
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Leroy Winbush
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