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Design Program proposed by John Arnold

The Design Program dates back to 1958 when Stanford Professor John Arnold, formerly of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, first proposed the idea that design engineering should be human-centered. Building on Arnold’s work, Bob McKim (Emeritus, Engineering) and Matt Kahn (Art) created the Product Design major and the graduate-level Program in Design. This curriculum was formalized in the mid-60s, making the Joint Program in Design, as it was then named, one of the first interdepartmental programs at Stanford. The texts used in those days were McKim’s recently published Experiences in Visual Thinking, and Jim Adams’ Conceptual Blockbusting, a Guide to Better Ideas. The “Loft” in those days was a bootleg attic space in Building 500 that the University didn’t know about (and the faculty pretended didn’t exist). ME101, a class in what McKim called “visual thinking” was the introductory class for all design students and the class included four imaginative “voyages” in the Exploratorium, a 16-foot geodesic dome that projected 60’s-style multimedia shows on its surface designed to stimulate creativity.