Thursday, Oct 28, 2010
At the end of September, Oregon Caves National Monument and Oregon Caves Outfitters, the monument’s concessioner, hosted Charles Harrison, a retired industrial designer and artist.
While at the park, Harrison gave several talks to the public and to school groups and oral history interviews to park historians. Chuck has been compared to Jackie Robinson, since he was the first African American executive ever hired by Sears, Roebuck and Company and the first such designer in any major American firm.
Throughout his prolific career, Harrison focused on developing relevant, useful products to solve, rather than create, problems for consumers. Harrison's beautiful coffee-table book, A Life's Design, chronicles his inspirational life, his timeless approach to design and his passion for inspiring others with humor, insight, compassion, and humility.
Chuck has said that “when I leave this planet I want to be remembered for my contributions to people” – a thought reminiscent of remarks made by our first director, Steven Mather.
Chuck helped design more than 700 consumer products, including toasters, stereos, the first portable hair dryer, the see-through measuring cup, Craftsman tools, and the first large-scale plastic garbage can. He redesigned the iconic View-Master in 1958 in such a way that production costs were halved. This then made it more affordable and thus as a toy for many a child as their first introduction to the wonders of Western landscapes. The View-Master’s technique of showing 3-D images was invented in 1938 following a chance meeting of two men at the Oregon Caves.