In Memoriam - Joost van der Grinten, initiator of the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering

News - 22 November 2017

It is with sadness that we must inform you that on Friday 17 November 2017 professor emeritus Joost van der Grinten (1927) passed away. Van der Grinten was appointed the first (part-time) professor of Industrial Design in 1962. As such, he was the initiator of our faculty.

Joost van der Grinten started studying architecture in 1946. He did an internship at Philips and as an assistant to Prof. F.A. Eschauzier he had made a study of the various design courses in Europe. This study, and the recommendations that Van der Grinten presented, would eventually be the foundation of the ‘Industrial Design’ programme at Delft.

The benefit and necessity of a new industrial design programme were overwhelmingly clear to Van der Grinten. In his view, the Netherlands was lagging far behind the rest of Europe when it came to training modern designers. Nevertheless, it took almost ten years until Van der Grinten was appointed endowed professor of Industrial Design. With this appointment, he was essentially being commissioned to set up a new programme. Van der Grinten found design practitioners to staff the new programme, notably with different approaches and contrasting views.

Joost van der Grinten during a tour of the faculty

Van der Grinten and his staff embarked on a radical new path in the early years of the new programme. It was much more in keeping with the analytical approach taken by technical engineers, with their knowledge of production techniques and qualities related to product use. Van der Grinten stayed on as part-time professor until 1971. He simultaneously ran a pioneering architecture firm called Environmental Design. Among other awards, he won the Prix de Rome, an important architecture price.

In 1971, Van der Grinten resigned in order to fully dedicate himself to one of his other passions: violin making. “I realised that I wasn’t a designer myself, even though that’s what I taught”, Van der Grinten said years later, explaining why he had left TU Delft. “I set it all up. With that, my task had ended.”

In 2002, the ‘Van der Grinten room’ was named after the initiator of our faculty.

Joost van der Grinten using a band saw in 1962