David Tompkins, FIDSA
IDSA Chairman of the Board: 1994–1996
IDSA President: 1993–1994
IDSA Vice President: 1991–1993
Inducted into the Academy of Fellows: 1985
Tompkins is a graduate of Pratt Institute with an honors degree in industrial design. He worked at Mack Truck and General Motors while at school and, following graduation, was employed by the Madison Avenue office of Walter Dorwin Teague Associates in the consumer packaging department.
Tompkins left New York in 1963 to join Richardson/Smith (now Fitch) in Worthington, Ohio, when that consulting office was first founded. During 14 years at R/S he worked on a wide range of products for consumer, industrial and medical markets. The lift truck designed for Crown Equipment was selected as one of the IDSA's 10 best products of the decade 1980-1990. At the same time, he taught Ohio State University I.D. courses in design history, presentation methods and professional practices. He left Richardson/Smith to found his own office in 1977.
In 1981, after operating Tompkins & Associates in Colorado and Ohio, he changed career paths from independent consultant to corporate management by joining RCA Consumer Electronics in Indianapolis. As vice president of design he was responsible for more than 200 products including console televisions, video cassette recorders, video cameras and audio equipment made in plants around the world. His staff of 40 also did graphics, corporate identity, packaging and model making.
Montell Polyolefins, a joint venture of Royal Dutch Shell and Montedison SpA, Italy, was the world's leading producer of polypropylene and related engineering plastics. They hired Tompkins in late 1987 to establish an industrial design resource at their North American headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. The design team worked with R&D centers worldwide, creating plastic-based products for customers in consumer, industrial and technical markets in the US and Europe.
Tompkins has received design awards from the IDSA, the American Iron & Steel Institute, the Hanover Trade Fair, ID magazine and the Consumer Electronics Industry. The IDSA named him fellow in 1985, and he was vice president, president and chairman of the national organization 1991-96.
After retiring in 1995, Tompkins built his dream home on a bridgeless barrier island off south Florida's Gulf Coast—no cars, no shops, no industrial design. Life's good ... c'mon down.