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METU Department of Industrial Design: A Brief History

Prepared by Fatma Korkut; contributions by Mehmet Asatekin, Çağla Doğan, Gülay Hasdoğan, Figen Işık, Pınar Kaygan.
Last updated on 3 October 2012. For contributions and corrections, please send an e-mail to id@metu.edu.tr.

1956: Middle East High Technology Institute was founded.

1956-1960: Prof. G. Holmes Perkins, who had worked as a consultant for the foundation of METU, offered a development plan for METU in 1957. This plan constitutes the first document in which industrial design is mentioned as a university program in Turkey. In this plan, which covers the period between 1956-60, it was proposed to establish an industrial design department within the Faculty of Architecture. (Payaslıoğlu, 1996: 59)

1958-61: Efforts were made to launch a design centre at METU Faculty of Architecture in collaboration with the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (Munro, 1971). However, the plan could not be realized due to financial issues and the unsuitable political climate (Er, Korkut and Er, 2003: 28).

1964: In fall 1964, designer Raymond Loewy visited the Faculty of Architecture.[1] Following the visit, Loewy sent an issue of Industrial Design, one of the prominent journals of the period, to Kemal Kurdaş, the President of METU, and to Aptullah Kuran, the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, with a note on its margin recommending Jay Doblin, who had also worked as a designer in Loewy’s design office.

1965: Aptullah Kuran, the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, prepared a report titled “Preliminary Report on the Proposed Department of Industrial Design”.

1969-1972: David K. Munro, an American industrial designer, started to work at METU, Faculty of Architecture in Fall 1969 with the support of the Agency for International Development (AID) to develop an industrial design program within the Faculty. During the years he spent at METU, Munro developed an Industrial Design Master’s Program proposal, built relationships with industry, developed elective courses and supervised Master’s theses. The elective courses developed by Munro at the Department of Architecture starting in Fall 1969, are the first courses in the field of industrial design in Turkey.[2] Munro left Turkey in Summer 1972.

2 May 1972: David K. Munro organized the first exhibition in the field of industrial design in Turkey. The exhibition titled “Endüstri Tasarımı Dünyası” (The World of Industrial Design) was supported by the United States Information Service and opened by METU Department of Architecture in the Or-An Yapı Merkezi Exhibition Hall in Ankara in Spring 1972. In this exhibition, which was later repeated in the Turkish American Association and the Chamber of Architects of Turkey, the development of industrial design in the west was introduced. Examples from the student projects that were undertaken within the industrial design elective courses taught at METU Department of Architecture were also exhibited. The exhibition material was produced by Mehmet Asatekin and Güner Mutaf. You can view the exhibition boards here.

1972-1978: Mehmet Asatekin and Güner Mutaf, who had carried out their Master’s studies with Munro, continued teaching industrial design in an elective course at the Department of Architecture. They participated in various initiatives taken by the Faculty Administration to establish the Department.

8 May 1979: The initiative which had been started by the Faculty of Architecture Administration in 1978 reached its conclusion. The proposal prepared by Mehmet Asatekin ve Güner Mutaf for establishing a department with a four-year undergraduate program was approved at the Academic Council on 8th May 1979, and the Department of Industrial Design undergraduate program was founded. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mustafa Pultar was the Dean of the METU Faculty of Architecture in this period. Courses started in the Department in December 1979 with 16 students and two instructors (Mehmet Asatekin, Güner Mutaf), supported by an instructor from the Department of Architecture (Selahattin Önür). Inst. Mehmet Asatekin became the first Chairperson of the Department.

1980: “Italian Design Exhibition” was held in collaboration with Ankara Italian Culture Committee between 18-24 June 1980 on the METU campus.

1981: Following its membership to ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) World Design Schools Service, the Department was invited to the Mediterranean regional meeting in Milan in 1980. Following its application to ICSID, the Department was granted associate membership at the 1981 General Assembly. METU Industrial Design Department, which remained the only member institution of ICSID from Turkey until 2000, is still a member of ICSID as an educational institution.

1985-1994: The Department accepted students through the central university entrance exam until 1984. Between 1985 and1994, students were accepted through a special entrance exam developed by the Department. In 1995, the Department went back to accepting students through the central entrance exam.

1994: In fall 1994, the Department of Industrial Design organized a symposium titled “Tasarım, Endüstri ve Türkiye” (Design, Industry and Turkey), which is the first international academic activity in this field in Turkey.

1994: Prof. Bruce Archer, a pioneer in the field of design methods in the UK, participated in the symposium titled “Tasarım, Endüstri ve Türkiye” (Design, Industry and Turkey) as an invited speaker. Before the symposium, Prof. Archer, whose invitation was supported by the British Culture Committee, delivered in-service training seminars on design education for the members of the Department. He organized a workshop on developing a Master’s program with the participation of the Department’s teaching staff. The workshop was concluded by the decision that the program should include a research-oriented curriculum and thesis writing.

1997: A research-oriented and interdisciplinary Master’s program, focusing on current developments and new problem areas in design, was developed under the direction of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gülay Hasdoğan, and started at the beginning of the 1997-98 academic year.

1997-2002: In collaboration with Prof. Wolfgang Jonas from Hochschule für Kunst und Design Halle in Germany, a series of workshops was organized on the use of systematic thinking and scenario building methods for concept development. Two of the workshops were held at METU in 1997 and 2000, and one at Halle in 1998. Ten students from the second, third and fourth years participated in the workshop organized at Halle.

2002: An international symposium titled “Tasarım, Kültür, Tüketim: Farklı Modern Deneyimler” (Design, Culture, Consumption: Diverse Modern Experiences) was organized with invited speakers from Germany and Turkey. The symposium was supported and hosted by the Goethe Institute.

2002: Graduation projects, which were carried out in collaboration with industrial partners within the scope of the ID402 Graduation Project course, taught by Inst. Fatma Korkut and Part-time Inst. Naz Evyapan, were exhibited in the METU Cultural and Convention Center. Graduation projects, which are realized in collaboration with around 35 industry associations, have been exhibited every year since 2002.

2003: METU-BILTIR UTEST, the first product usability unit in Turkey, was established under the direction of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Çiğdem Erbuğ. The Unit has been working with the industry since the end of 2003, as well as supporting graduate research in the Department.

2004: The PhD program was started at METU Department of Industrial Design. The program was developed under the direction of Assoc. Prof. Dr Gülay Hasdoğan with the aim to train qualified researchers and to produce original knowledge on theoretical, methodological, social, cultural, historical, ergonomic, environmental, managerial, technological, and educational aspects of industrial design, which had become increasingly needed as a field of expertise and highly favored by university candidates.

2004: Student projects by third and fourth year students, which were carried out within the “alternative design studio”, taught by Inst. Alex Velasco and Inst. Naz Evyapan, were exhibited in Salone Satellite during the Milan Design Week. In the exhibition titled “Mobile Mobilia”, which was supported by Koleksiyon Furniture, prototypes for ten projects and two-dimensional drawings for seven were present.

2004: The Department hosted the Fourth International Conference on Design and Emotion. This conference, which is organized by the Design and Emotion Society every two years in a different country, was held in the METU Cultural & Convention Center along with the accompanying exhibitions and workshops.

2007: The first of the Graduation Projects Exhibition Catalog was published.

2007: The first of the semiannual “Tasarımdan Haberler” (News from Design) department bulletin was published.

2008: METU Department of Industrial Design has started The International Joint Master of Science Programme in Design Research for Interaction, in collaboration with the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. The program, which requires students to spend two semesters in Ankara and two in Delft, was developed under the direction of Asst. Prof. Dr. Bahar Şener-Pedgley, Asst. Prof. Dr. Naz Evyapan ve Inst. Canan E. Ünlü.

February 2012: “Home Heroes: Designing Tomorrow’s Home Appliances for Profilo” project took place in third and fourth year studios through a collaboration between METU and BSH-Profilo. A selection of projects by fourth year students was exhibited in Munich Creative Business Week in Germany.

Notes

[1] Raymond Loewy’s visit was related by Serim Denel at the “Endüstri Ürünleri Tasarımı Bölümü Kuruluş Yılları” (The Foundation Years of the Industrial Design Department) meeting on 19th April 2001 at METU.

[2] Compiled from university catalogs, reports, transcripts and course materials, the following is a list of the courses run by Munro between 1969 and 1972: ARCH 361 Industrial Design (Fall 1969, Fall 1970, Fall 1971), ARCH 362 Industrial Design (Spring 1970), ARCH 461 Industrial Design (Fall 1970, Fall 1971), ARCH 462 Industrial Design II (Spring 1971, Spring 1972), ARCH 561 Industrial Design (Fall 1971), ARCH 562 Industrial Design (Spring 1972), ARCH 564 Model Making (Spring 1972). In this context, it is also important to mention the graduate course titled “History of Industrial Design”, developed by Instructor Serim Denel in Fall 1971.

Bibliography

Asatekin, Mehmet and Güner Mutaf. 1978. “Endüstri Tasarımı Bölümü Kuruluş Raporu.” Ankara: METU Faculty of Architecture.

Er, H. Alpay, Fatma Korkut and Özlem Er. 2003. “U.S. Involvement in the Development of Design in the Periphery: The Case of Industrial Design Education in Turkey, 1950s-1970s.” Design Issues 19(2): 17-34.

Kurdaş, Kemal. 1998. ODTÜ Yıllarım: “Bir Hizmetin Hikayesi”. Ankara: METU Press.

Matters, Robert L. 1959. “Proposed Formation of a Department of Product Design under the Dean and College of Architecture of the Middle East Technical University.” METU internal correspondence, 30 Eylül 1959.

Munro, David K. 1971. “A Rationale and an Outline for the Establishment of a Department of Industrial Design at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara.” Unpublished report, 23 pages, Ankara, METU, October 1971.

Payaslıoğlu, Arif T. 1996. Türk Yükseköğretiminde Bir Yeniliğin Tarihi: Barakadan Kampusa 1954–1964. Ankara: Middle East Technical University.

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