• The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945-1976
    John Harwood
    University of Minnesota Press, 2011
    John Harwood

IBM Design Department, Promotional photograph for IBM System/360 Model 40 taken in the "Computer Room" ("White Room") in Poughkeepsie, NY, 1965. Courtesy of IBM Corporate Archives, Somers, NY.

The book provides a multi-valent historical account of the interaction between architects and industrial designers, corporations, and computer technology in the post–World War II era. Built around a history of the design consultancy established by Thomas Watson Jr. and Eliot Noyes at IBM (1956–77), it offers an account of the crucial role that designers played in shaping both computer and multinational corporation. Moreover, it seeks to describe the inverse effect: the influence of computer and corporation on the designer. Numerous disciplines previously thought to be external to the discipline of architectural design became integral aspects of architectural theory, including information and management theory, cybernetics, ergonomics and computer science. The book offers the first critical history of the industrial design of the computer, the first critical account Eliot Noye's career, and the first comprehensive analysis of the largest and most sophisticated part of the work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames.

John Harwood is assistant professor of modern and contemporary architectural history in the Department of Art at Oberlin College. He is the coauthor, with Janet Parks, of The Troubled Search: The Work of Max Abramovitz (2004), and with Jesse LeCavalier and Guillaume Mojon, of THIS WILL—THIS (2009). His articles have appeared in Grey Room, AA Files, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and journal; he has also contributed essays to the exhibition Cold War Modern at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and to the Swiss Pavilion exhibition at the 2008 Venice Biennale.