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Lifetime Achievement

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Charles Harrison
View-Master. Manufacturer: Sawyer Manufacturing, Portland, OR; Design Firm: Robert Podall Associates, Chicago, IL. 1958. Photo: Joeffrey Trimmingham.

Charles Harrison, an industrial designer at Sears, Roebuck & Company for more than three decades, improved the quality of life of millions of Americans through the extraordinary breadth and innovation of his product designs. One of the first African Americans to enter the design field, Harrison began working for Sears in 1961 and eventually became the company’s Chief Designer. During his distinguished career, Harrison maintained an unwavering commitment to the needs of the average consumer, creating an astonishing 750 products—from radios and sewing machines to hair dryers—for nearly every area of the home. Among his most iconic designs are the first-of-its-kind plastic garbage can, a lighter, more durable alternative to its metal counterpart; and a redesign of the now classic View-Master. Harrison currently teaches design at Columbia College in Chicago.