School of Industrial Design Lecture: Journey from Industrial Designer to Design Strategist

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Tom Hardy, a design management professor, has a career that spans 48 years of working with global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Ford, IBM, Lenovo, Lowe’s, Merck, Microsoft, Porsche, Samsung, and Steelcase, as well as socio-economic development projects in Thailand and the Philippines. He will discuss his journey from designer to design strategist. As an independent design strategist, Hardy combines his extensive corporate design management experience with the objectivity, insights and diversity of an external consultant. Early in his career, Hardy was an industrial designer for IBM and ultimately director of the Corporate IBM Design Program in collaboration with preeminent designers Paul Rand and Richard Sapper.   More on His Background  Tom Hardy joined IBM in 1970 as an industrial designer and was involved in development of numerous products and systems, including the first IBM Personal Computer. He moved into design management in 1981 and held positions at local, division and corporate levels. As Corporate Manager of the IBM Design Program, Mr. Hardy directed worldwide design and identity activities in collaboration with preeminent designers Richard Sapper and Paul Rand, while coordinating fifteen design centers in Europe, Japan and United States.  Among results from the IBM "differentiated personality" strategy developed under his corporate direction was the highly successful ThinkPad notebook computer series. The original ThinkPad, first launched in 1992, together with other award winning product designs initiated during his corporate leadership tenure, helped lay the foundation for revitalization of IBM's brand image and became symbols of the company's business recovery in the 1990s.  Recognition  Mr. Hardy's design management and strategy work has been cited in major publications. The Rizzoli book World Design featured his role in IBM global design and identity coordination. Accounts of contributions to the creation of ThinkPad include Business Week's 1993 "Hot Products" issue and three books: ThinkPad: A Different Shade of Blue, Management of Strategic Alliances and The Race for Perfect, as well as a case study published in 1994 by The London Business School. The 2007 anniversary issue of PC Magazine also highlighted his innovative leadership role in the original ThinkPad development process.  Mr. Hardy's strategic work with Samsung Electronics contributed to the company being continually recognized in global publications for award winning product design. For example, Business Week's 2002 issue on "Cool Korea" cited his advisory role of inspiring Samsung designers to 'think out of the box'. Hardy's work also helped Samsung progress from a single IDEA award in 1996 to exceed Apple Computer in 2004 with the most such awards given any corporation over a five-year period. Three business school case studies attributing Samsung’s global success to brand-design strategy were published by SCMS Journal of Indian Management, Bangalore, Thunderbird School of Global Management and Harvard Business School Publishing.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Malrey Head
  • Created: 11/07/2018
  • Modified By: Malrey Head
  • Modified: 11/19/2018


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