Ellen Manderfield, Idsa (1916-1999)

ELLEN MANDERFIELD

Ellen Manderfield’s distinguished five decades-long industrial design career reveals an illustrious personal talent and a unique, 50-year history of American Industrial design, rooted firmly in Chicago.

In 1957, she became the first woman member of IDSA, then known as the American Society of Industrial Designers. In doing so, she blazed a trail of opportunity for women, becoming an enduring inspiration to them. In 1992, she received the IDSA Personal Recognition Award, the first woman to receive this honor.

In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, after graduating for Mundelein College of Loyola University in Chicago with a BA in art, she worked for a number of companies, including Meyercord Co. in Chicago and Colonial Radio Corp. of Buffalo NY (later named Sylvania Electric).

In 1947, she began work at the Montgomery Ward Bureau of Design under Anne Swainson, designing hundreds of products for retail and mail order catalogs, including appliances, industrial products and kitchen equipment.

In 1951, she joined General Electric in Syracuse, NY, designing televisions and electronic equipment. Her television cabinet and hi-fi designs show the range of 50’s popular taste, from traditional Early American to “Danish Modern” influences.

In 1956, she joined Oneida Ltd. Silversmiths, designing giftware and over 200 flatware patterns, with “Omni” being her most famous. Many of the patterns she designed for Oneida are still in production and continue to be popular. Manderfield retired from Oneida Ltd. in 1986 after 30 years of service.

 


Works Cited:

  • The article is courtesy of the Industrial Designers Society of America. Addendum by Nancy J. Perkins FIDSA
  • The image is courtesy of The Chicago Athenaeum.