He was mostly self-taught despite a short period of study at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and in Paris, beginning his professional career in graphic art and design of exhibition stands.
In 1934, he joined the Bassett-Gray Group of Artists and Designers, one of Britain’s first multidisciplinary design consultancies, after forming Studio Z in 1930. This became the Industrial Design Partnership that Black founded with Walter Landor and Milner Gray (1935-40).
A summary of his works;
Work in the 1930s included exhibition design at the 1939 New York World’s Fair for the MARS exhibition and interior designer (Modern Architectural Research Society) for the British Pavilion.
Black worked for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War. He was a founding member of the Design Research Unit (DRU), established in 1943, along with Milner Gray and Herbert Read.
At the South Bank, London, 1951 Festival of Britain, he received considerable critical attention as an architect-designer.
Misha Black Proposal for 1951 Exhibition – 1946
The work of Black with the DRU resulted in design consulting with a range of key customers, including;
- British Rail,
- London Transport,
- BOAC, and the Hong Kong Rapid Transport System.
He was appointed to the Royal College of Art in 1959 as Professor of Industrial Design, a highly influential role in design education that he held until retirement in 1975. In British design education, this proved of seminal importance, bringing together industrial and engineering design and conferring them with academic status in a higher education sector primarily dominated by the fine arts.
On a vast number of fronts, he was extremely active in the promotion of the design profession. Including this;
- Membership of the Society of Industrial Artists (SIA, established 1930—see Chartered Society of Designers) of which he became president from 1954 to 1956.
- The Council of Industrial Design (see Design Council) from 1955 to 1964 and the Design and Industries Association (DIA).
- Black was also a founder member and later president (1959–61) of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) which first met in London in 1957.
- A member of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry from 1957 (master, 1973–4), and was knighted in 1972.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.
Woodham, J. Black, Misha. In A Dictionary of Modern Design. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 Jan. 2021, from https://www-oxfordreference-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/view/10.1093/acref/9780191762963.001.0001/acref-9780191762963-e-106.
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