The Industrial Design Department

Marty Sklar set up an Industrial Design Department in July 1980 and asked me to manage it. This was preparation for the coming surge of work on the various Epcot pavilions and their companion exhibits in Communicore. Several recent graduates of the Art Center College of Design (in Pasadena, California) were sent to my office to show their portfolios. I made recommendations and several were hired.

There was to be quite a learning curve for me, for now I was to be giving assignments and directing design, rather than just designing. My approach to designing at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) is evident in a 1966 letter to my father, describing 1967 Tomorrowland projects: “My work is interesting in that I have several jobs going at once, and all rush.” This was my style, and I loved it.

I had developed the technique of working back and forth between two-dimensional layout and simple foam core models. These small scale models not only aided and accelerated design, but also effectively presented concepts to management. Not everyone is able to visualize from orthographic drawings. This had worked well on projects such as the Space Mountains. During a very rushed period on the Horizons project, I would build the small-scale models at home in the evening so I could meet the schedule of the Dimensional Design Department (formerly the Model Shop).


Related entries