Bill Strumpf, who was best known for his design of the Aeron chair, died on August 30, 2006 from complications after having had abdominal surgery. He was 70 years old. Strumpf had a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the University of Illinois in 1959 and earned his master’s in Environmental Design from the University of Wisconsin. He was an accomplished lecturer, and had taught at various institutions, including the Royal College of Art, the Glasgow School of Art, Cranbrook Academy, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Rochester Institute of Technology. He went to work for Herman Miller Research Corporation in 1970.
He is also credited with designing a series of Pur water filtration devices and did design work for Lexmark. In 1998, he published a book called The Ice Palace That Melted Away: How Good Design Enhances Our Lives. The book, which is used in many design schools as a text, examines the relationship between civility and good design. Strumpf writes that good design should not be so much about fashion as quality of life.
Before his death, he was named the winner of the 2006 National Design Award in Product Design by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. The award was presented posthumously on October 18. In 2001, he won the Industrial Design Society of America (ISDA) Lifetime Achievement Award.
Strumpf lived in Stockholm, WI. He is survived by his wife, Sharon, a son Jon Stumpf, a daughter, Carol Stumpf, and five grandchildren. Three sons, David, Karl, and Erich, predeceased him.