Rolf A. Faste Foundation for Design Creativity


Remembering Robert H. McKim, Pioneer of Human-Centered Design

August 10, 2022

We’re saddened by the loss of Bob McKim, a seminal figure in the history of human-centered design. Born in 1926, Bob was professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University from 1958-1988 and Rolf’s predecessor as director of the Product Design Program for over 20 years, beginning in the early 1960s. Building on formative experiences that bridged mechanical engineering and the fine arts—including a stint working at the renowned industrial design firm Henry Dreyfuss Associates in the 1950s—McKim’s major contributions to the field included courses on Visual Thinking and Needfinding, both of which remain cornerstones of the Stanford design curriculum today.

Stanford Engineering Magazine has written a nice tribute and summary of the many contributions of Robert McKim ▸

From left: Stanford design faculty Bob McKim, Matt Kahn, David Kelley, and Rolf Faste, circa 1990.

The Creativity Kernel (v.1.1) is Live!

February 22, 2020

We’re pleased to announce that the initial prototype of the Creativity Kernel is live online!

The Creativity Kernel is a prototype for a new kind of participatory and democratic innovation. It open sources design thinking so that anyone can use it to make the world better. Together, we are empowering collective action on social issues where public opinions may differ, existing resources are limited and grassroots creativity is required.

Try out the Creativity Kernel ▸

Steven McCarthy’s New Book on the History of Design at Stanford

October 5, 2019

Author and design educator Steven McCarthy has written a new book titled Design at Stanford: A Visual History of Thinking and Doing. The book chronicals the history of the Stanford design program from 1949 to present, and includes faculty and alumni profiles, side stories, and full-color visual collages. The book tells the story of how, in 1958, Stanford University’s departments of art and mechanical engineering collaborated on a joint graduate degree in design and the many ways that Stanford-educated designers have influenced the world around us.

Full-color paperbacks of the book are available on Blurb ▸

The Faste Design Archive is Now Open to Visitors

August 1, 2016

The Faste design library and archive is now open to visitors with advance appointments. We are a non-circulating library, so all materials must be consulted on site.

The design archive includes over 100 boxes of Rolf’s drawings and notes, several thousand books on design, art, education, etc., and an impressive collection of resources for design education.

More about the Faste Design Archive ▸

Design Method Libraries: A Proposal

April 8, 2016

We recently finished a grant application for the Knight News Challenge to design and deploy open source design thinking tools to establish a collaborative library for doing design. This project will design and build a prototype open source system for design-driven innovation that is powered by a community of participants interested in learning design.

Here’s a link to the proposal ▸

Introducing the Faste Foundation’s New Website

January 9, 2016

After several months of hard work by our all-volunteer team, the Faste Foundation is pleased to introduce this updated website. It sits on a much healthier back end, will soon feature responsive design for mobile viewing, and provides much easier access to design education and scholarly resources. We also have an updated mailing list and donation processing system. Thanks everyone who contributed to help make this possible!

Bernie Roth’s New Book: The Achievement Habit

July 10, 2015

We’re excited to celebrate the publication of Bernard Roth’s wonderful new book, The Achievement Habit. Bernie is a professor at Stanford University, and was a close friend and collaborator with Rolf for many years. His recent work explores educational experiences that enhance peoples’ creative potential, empowering them to live fulfilling lives.

The book is an insightful contribution to the human potential of design, and is highly recommended for anyone interested in being a better person. It’s beautifully written and contains many useful exercises and memorable stories.

Learn more about The Achievement Habit ▸

Beautiful Users at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York

December 4, 2014

Rolf Faste’s early work with accessible design (from the 1970s) is featured prominently in the exhibition catalogue for Beautiful Users, which opens December 12th in New York City. The book is edited and designed by Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design at the Cooper Hewitt, and accompanies the Fall 2014 exhibition that reopens the Museum following a three-year renovation.

This exhibition looks at how design has become more and more user-focused over the past fifty years, and how this shift has affected the daily lives of people everywhere.

Learn more about Beautiful Users ▸

Remembering Michael Westcott, 1958 – 2014

October 12, 2014

We’re saddened at the loss of Michael Westcott, president of the Design Management Institute (DMI). Mike was a student of Rolf’s at Syracuse University in the 1970s, and we recently re-connected with him after many years. He spent his professional career as a passionate designer and entrepreneur, and a champion of the power of design to drive value, enrich lives, and tackle the most pressing social issues we face today.

At the request of his family, DMI has organized The Michael Westcott Design Education Fund, a memorial in Michael’s honor. Consider donating to the fund to continue the work he pursued with such passion. You can also read the announcement from DMI and share your memories of Michael here.

Getting a Grip: Disabilty in American Industrial Design

December 1, 2012

A very nice article written by Bess Williamson, titled “Getting a Grip: Disability in American Industrial Design,” was recently published in the scholarly journal Winterthur Portfolio by the University of Chicago Press. The article traces the history of univeral design from the 1970s to the end of the twentieth century to show how designers integrated disability-related features into functionally and aesthetically distinct offerings for the mass market.

Discussing the origins of this trend in the 1970s, Williamson writes “Rolf Faste, a design professor at Syracuse University, developed a new chart linking parts of the body to design features. This chart, called ‘The Enabler,’ differed in look and logic from earlier human factors charts based on a select anthropometric spectrum... His charts emphasized the overlaps among impairments, showing, for example, that difficulties in comprehension, sight, and mobility all corresponded to design strategies for hand controls and buttons... In focusing on limitations, rather than a ‘typical’ 95 percent of bodily dimensions, ‘The Enabler’ sought design improvements that could potentially improve function for all users.”

Read Williamson’s complete article online at ▸

The Enabler, diagram from Rolf Faste’s article “New System Propels Design for the Handicapped,” Industrial Design Magazine, October 1979

Faste Foundation
P.O. Box 60095
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Click here to join our mailing list.
The Faste Foundation is a 501(c)3 public charity.
All donations are tax-deductable.

© Rolf A. Faste Foundation for Design Creativity. All Rights Reserved.