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William J. Hannon - Founder, DMI
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Bill Hannon

Founder, The Design Management Institute






Back in 1975, long before the word design was a corporate buzzword, Bill Hannon was inspired by the unexpected challenges he had faced as a corporate design manager. That inspiration led to the creation of something entirely new—the Design Management Institute.






Bill Hannon was born in Boston in 1934 and attended Boston Technical High School graduating in 1952. Four years later, he left The Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) with a B.F.A. in Industrial Design. After discharge from the Army Hannon joined Morton Hollis Associates, a Boston firm that did packaging design and branding work.

Soon his ascendance in the design industry began to mirror the fast-rising growth of post-war America.  He was recruited as the first Director of Design at the MacBick Company, responsible for Corporate Identity and Branding, Package Design, Graphic Design, and Advertising. Then moved to Williams Associates as a Senior Designer. Within three years, Bill had the title Director of Design, and was responsible for product design, packaging, graphic design, exhibits and advertising. He was no longer executing design, but managing—he had become a Design Manager. But it wasn’t an easy transition. “My inexperience caused me no end of problems and nothing in my design education had prepared me for the thoroughly foreign culture I found myself in. I had to understand the different cultures of engineering, marketing, manufacturing, and even the bean counters. In sum, I was forced to remake myself.”


After this formative trial by fire, In the mid sixties Hannon co-established Corporate Design Consultants (CDC) and served as CEO of the full service design consultancy. The innovative firm was structured around design functions– Graphic Design, Industrial Design, and Environmental Design. At the at the time Boston’s largest design consultancy, CDC clients included Sheraton Hotels, Grace Lines cruise ships, Polaroid, and U. S. Plywood.


In 1971 Bill was recruited to chair the Division of Design at the Massachusetts College of Art (MassArt) by then-president Jack Nolan. The Division included the departments of Architecture, Industrial Design, Fashion Design, Graphic Design and Illustration. Over a five-year period, he managed the growth of the department from 100 students and nine faculty to 230 students and 22 faculty. He later served the college in a number of additional capacities including Associate Dean for Design and Media, Assistant to the President and Vice President for External Affairs and Development.


Not long after joining MassArt, all of the division chairs were tasked by the President of the College to develop specific initiatives to reach out to the larger community. Bill still remembered the culture shock that had defined his early career as a corporate manager. He had the gut feeling that many others were going through similar experiences, so in 1975 Bill organized a national conference on design management which led to the establishment of the Design Management Institute (DMI). DMI became independent in the late 80’s and now is a major international research and educational institution.

Bill’s work has been featured in Print, Industrial Design, Packaging Design and Product Engineering magazines, among others. It has also appeared in such books as American Corporate Identity, Design in America and Boldly Graphic. He has received awards from the Art Directors Club, the International Trade Mark Center, ID’s Annual Design Review and Package Design magazine, to name a few. In 1989 he received the Walter Smith Distinguished Alumni award from MassArt. He is also the recipient of IDSA’s Boston Chapters Silver Lantern Award Distinguished Educator Award. He is a Life Fellow of the Design Management Institute and, in 1990, was elected a Fellow of Britain’s Royal Society of Arts.


Bill has served in a number of professional capacities. He was recruited by FIDSA to serve on the committee that merged IDI and ASID to create IDSA, and is a founding member and former Chair of the Boston Chapter. He is the Founder of the Design Management Institute and has served on the Board of the Art Directors Club and the Design Management Advisory Board of the Harrow Business School, University of Westminster, London. He has lectured at Harvard University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design; the Rhode Island School of Design; the London Business School; the Design Center, Toyama, Japan; University College, Cork, Ireland; the Georgia Institute of Technology; North Carolina State University; the European Academy of Design, Stockholm; the General Motors Design Center; and the Executive Training Center, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Hannon is a Professor Emeritus of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.


Join the Movement!

A campaign has launched to name the new Design and Media Center at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) after William J. Hannon, founder of the Design Management Institute (DMI) an IDSA Life member, and a Professor Emeritus of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.


Tax deductible contributions may be made oneline, or you can pledge (1-3 years) by mail:

William J. Hannon Recognition
MassArt Foundation
621 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115

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