Eliot Noyes (1910 – 1977) American industrial designer

Installation view of the exhibition, "Organic Design in Home Furnishings"
Installation view of the exhibition, “Organic Design in Home Furnishings”

Eliot Noyes (1910 – 1977) was an industrial designer from the United States.


From 1928 to 1932, he studied architecture at Harvard University, followed by stints at the Graduate School of Design from 1932 to 1935 and 1937 to 1938.


He worked for the German Modernists Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, whom he had met at Harvard, in 1939 before becoming Curator of Industrial Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York from 1940 to 1942 and 1945 to 1946, as he developed an affinity for a European aesthetic.

Following the Modernist drive that had dominated the museum’s exhibits in the 1930s, he curated the Organic Design in Home Furnishings show (1941–2), which brought Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen to prominence.

Following his appointment as design director at Norman Bel Geddes’ design firm in 1946, he founded his design firm the following year. He became design director at IBM in 1956, after previously serving as a consultant to the firm. He employed graphic designer Paul Rand to develop the company’s corporate logo and commissioned Eames to work on IBM exhibits and films and Breuer to design buildings.

IBM Electric by Eliot Noyes
IBM Electric by Eliot Noyes

He was inspired by the Italian office equipment company Olivetti’s corporate design policy. He gave IBM’s buildings, interiors, goods, and publicity a sleek, powerful, and technologically sophisticated look.


The clean-lined, almost sculptural Selectric golfball typewriter was one of Noyes’ most well-known prototypes for IBM (1961). He later served as a design consultant for Mobil (1964–77), the Cummins Engine Company (1953–77), and Pan Am (1969–72) and consulted on corporate identity design for Westinghouse (1960–76). His presidency of the Aspen International Design Conventions, which started in 1951, had a significant impact on design thought. He also contributed concept articles to Consumer Union Reports, the Consumers’ Union’s public face, an influential consumer advocacy organisation.


Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.

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