Attached images

Home | Farey, Arden

Farey, Arden

Carroll Gantz
Birth/Death Age: 

Arden Farey, FIDSA A Personal Remberance I first met Arden in 1970 when I interviewed for an industrial design “dream” job at Ampex Corporation in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The dream part of the job actually turned out to be Arden himself. Conventional wisdom held that design managers usually were not the best designers and were sometimes even part of the problem. Much to my surprise, Arden was definitely the exception to the rule. As I got to know him, I believed that our group was on the cutting edge of consumer electronics design with a leader who knew how to make it happen. He just seemed to know when to push, when to manage, and when to coach, and he did it with the quiet confidence of a true winner. In the midst of all this design euphoria, Arden told us that he had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I knew it was serious but the thing that I remember most was Arden’s attitude about it. I can’t really describe it except to say it was inspirational. Shortly after that, we all got bad news. Ampex Corporation had a financially disastrous year and our young division was being closed. Arden was transferred to Ampex corporate headquarters in Redwood City, California. His MS was rapidly progressing but hadn’t affected his positive outlook. Arden continued to actively promote good design, but he also began to think about the role of design with a more holistic vision, one that considered design’s impact on the planet’s ecosystem. In a time when most designers were myopically self-serving their own narrow interests, Arden was thinking in much broader terms. Following this thinking into action, in the late ‘70s he formed a Task Force to redefine the IDSA Code of Ethics to promote industrial design’s global ethical responsibilities. The proposed Code of Ethics was unanimously adopted by the Board of Directors. Arden presented his vision at Thrival (Thrive + Survive), the 1978 IDSA National Conference in Monterey, California. His opening introduction was particularly memorable and even more pertinent today: “In personal terms, Thrival is being in love with life with all one’s heart, mind, and strength while affording others the opportunity to also love life in their own way. In practical terms, Thrival is simultaneous concern for jobs and clean air, for material goods and resources conserved, for meaningful employment and joyful leisure, for laughter and serious reflection, for privacy and togetherness, for food and for thought, for our own fulfillment and fulfillment for future generations. As I see it, the challenge is for us to design with a combination of knowledge and purpose called wisdom. In this complex world of unprecedented peril and unparalleled opportunity, achieving Thrival is the design challenge of our time.” MS may have paralyzed him from the neck down but it did not change his spirit or intellect. Although limited in his working hours, he continued to focus outside himself as a social activist within his church and from within the VA where he received care. With his warm smile, twinkling eyes and perpetual optimism, he was always an inspiration for anyone lucky enough to have known him. Through his published works, his conference lectures, and his promotion of the larger role of Design, Arden Farey significantly influenced the thinking and behavior of a whole generation of designers. Arden passed away April 6, 2009. Jay Wilson IDSA

Copyright Information: 
I own or have obtained the rights to the image(s) included with this article and grant the right to post it(them) on its website and make use of it(them) in print media with proper attribution.