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ThinkPad designer to present Hallmark Design Symposium

Friday, September 21, 2012

David W. Hill

LAWRENCE — David W. Hill, the vice president of brand management for the computer manufacturer Lenovo Group, will give the next Hallmark Symposium Series lecture at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 24, at Budig Hall Room 110. The biweekly symposium is supported by the Hallmark Corporate Foundation and presented by the KU Department of Design.

Hill graduated from KU in 1982 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in industrial design. He joined IBM as a senior industrial designer in 1985 and moved to Lenovo in 2004. Today he leads a team of brand strategists, human factors engineers, and graphics and industrial designers who design the electronics giant's computers and other products.

The rebranding of objects through redesign was pioneered in the early 20th century by industrial designers like Raymond Loewy, who designed the curvaceous Coca-Cola bottle along with hundreds of other objects. Hill joined that tradition early in his 19-year career with IBM.

"David has led the conceptual development side of some of the most famous products in the computing market today," said Gregory Thomas, professor of design, and head of the School of Architecture, Design and Planning's Center for Design Research.

In 1994 Hill transformed a moribund IBM mini-computer called the A/S400 into a best seller through the use of design. He did it by replacing the machine's filing cabinet-like beige case with one that was more along sharp, black lines of a stealth bomber.

The double-digit sales growth of the A/S400 project proved the value of industrial design as a branding tool within the oft-conservative halls of IBM. That paved the way for Hill's groundbreaking design of the IBM ThinkPad.

Hill's design of the ThinkPad completely challenged the design conventions of the laptop. Its look, ergonomic and versatility established it as a corporate brand and made it one of the best-selling personal computers. Many features that were used in the original model, such as the red TouchPoint cursor key embedded in the keyboard, are still used in Lenovo's ThinkPads today.

The Hallmark Symposium Series was established in 1984 through the generosity of the Hallmark Corporate Foundation. The goal of the series is to enrich the education of KU students, in particular those from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning.

Over the course of nearly 30 years approximately 10,000 KU students have benefited from presentations by a rich array of designers, artists, and educators from all over the globe.

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