Alumna accepts World Design Medal for pioneering work

World Design Organization

Pattie Moore '74 (industrial design), left, accepts the World Design Medal from World Design Organization President David Kusuma at the World Design Assembly in October.

Patricia Moore ’74 (industrial design) has been recognized in countless ways for her pioneering design work and immeasurable impact as a thought leader. 

In October, her latest honor was formalized when she accepted the 2022 World Design Medal, presented by the World Design Organization at its World Design Assembly in Tokyo. The medal celebrates significant contributions to the advancement of the industrial design profession. 

“To have the recognition of your colleagues is only second in importance to me — the first being the reactions of satisfied consumers whose lives are made better because of my efforts,” said Moore, an internationally renowned designer, gerontologist and author. “Receiving the World Design Medal was a particularly gratifying and emotional experience, though, because it represents the international Design community embracing my work to make Design universal and deliver ‘dignity for all.’”

The award follows Moore receiving a 2019 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in the Design Mind category. The National Design Awards, conceived by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, annually honors lasting success in American design. They recognize designers who exhibit excellence, innovation and enhancement of the quality of life. 

Moore is a groundbreaking figure in universal design, a philosophy marked by inclusivity and accessibility in product and environment design. Her innovative designs for elderly people — including the well-known thick rubber-handled potato peeler and 300-plus physical medicine and rehabilitation environments for healthcare facilities throughout the world — earned her the nickname “Mother of Empathy.”

“After graduating RIT and beginning my career with Raymond Loewy, the father of American Design, my insistence that Design should deliver global equality for all people, of all ages and abilities, was a very foreign concept,” Moore said. “To have lived long enough to see that philosophy be realized as the ultimate definition of Design is very humbling.”

Moore is the author of Disguised: A True Story, a chronicle of the three years she posed as elderly women, with her body altered to simulate the normal sensory associated with aging to help her respond to people, products and environments as an elder.

She remains a highly active creative force in the global design community. In addition to accepting her World Design Medal in Japan, Moore has been a fixture at other high-profile, international events and conferences the last few months. 

She presented at the UKRI Healthy Ageing Conference in London and annual conference of the Bergen Chamber of Commerce in Norway, was the keynote speaker for the UNESCO Creative Cities Forum in South Korea and served as a juror for the annual Seoul Design Awards.

In September, Moore visited the RIT campus to present a lecture as part of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies’ Design Conversations series.

“There is never a day when I don’t see the opportunity for Design to be of service,” Moore said. “That I am invited globally by governments and corporations to share concepts for healing, peace and wellness is clear indication that Design is at a historical precipice. We can either deliver pathways or build roadblocks. The choice is ours to make and a responsibility I take to heart.”

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