ClassMate Bio

Bruce Hannah, THS '59

Written: August, 2005

Update code: LS

Hannah Design

19 Bay Drive West

Huntington, NY 11743



Bruce Hannah graduated from PRATT INSTITUTE in 1963 with a degree in Industrial Design. His career as an Industrial Designer began in 1967 when, in collaboration with Andrew Morrison, he produced award winning seating groups for KNOLL INTERNATIONAL  The partnership won the ALCOA AWARD and awards from the A.S.I.D., I.B.D., and I. D. MAGAZINE.

In 1976 Bruce Hannah established his own design office.  Among his many preeminent, award winning projects are dental and beauty equipment for TAKARA-BELMONT, Japan's largest manufacturer of these products, wire seating for FALCON Products, a large U.S. manufacturer of hospitality furniture, and The Hannah Desk System for KNOLL INTERNATIONAL (In 1990, The Hannah Desk System was distinguished as a DESIGN of the DECADE by the INDUSTRIAL DESIGN SOCIETY of AMERICA).

Developed through a collaboration with Tom Baer and Karl Bailey, a Trading Desk was added to The Hannah Desk product line in 1986 to address the increasingly complex wire management needs of banks and other financial institutions.  This product was awarded an IIDEX Silver Award in 1986 for a product first introduced in Canada and in 1987 it received the Gold IBD Product Design Award.

Concurrent with his role as one of today's leading Industrial Designers, Bruce continued as a teacher in the Industrial Design Department at Pratt Institute and was appointed Chair of the Graduate Industrial Design Department of Pratt Institute in 1986 and then Chair of the Industrial Design Department in 1988 when the Graduate and Under Graduate Departments were merged.

In 1989 in collaboration with Ayse Birsel, Bruce developed Orchestra, a line of desk accessories for Knoll International.  The product line received the IBD Award in 1990. 

In 1992 Bruce became President of CADRE, Pratt Institutes CENTER for ADVANCED DESIGN RESEARCH and EDUCATION, and was awarded the prestigious BRONZE APPLE by the New York chapter of the I.D.S.A. for his collaboration with Dr. Dan Fechtner, Danae Willson, and Arnold Wasserman in the creation and production of the first international conference on "Universal Design" Access to Daily Living. 

In 1991 Bruce was named the first "Designer-in-Residence" at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City.   In this role he developed a teaching program for children called, "You Are A Designer." This experience led to the creation of the "Primers Project," a series of small books dealing with design elements directed at young people.

In 1992/93, with the aide of a LUCE foundation grant co-created with Stephen Klien, Bruce produced a conference titled "What is Socially Responsible Design?"

In 1993/94 he created a continuing series of seminars underwritten by ACME Architectural walls entitled ACCESS BY DESIGN.

On September 30, 1994, the first conference about children designing, entitled ABCDESIGN (curated, conceived and coordinated by CADRE) was held in New York City.

Bruce received a full time appointment as Professor of Design in 1993 and resigned as Chair of the I.D. Department in 1993 to devote more time to teaching and the Presidency of CADRE.

In 1994 Bruce left CADRE and created the FURNITURE DESIGN STUDIO at Pratt while pursuing his own professional work.

In 1994 Bruce established a series of Furniture Workshops that take place in different cities all over the world in collaboration with leading design schools.  The first in the series took place at Les Ateliers in Paris in 1995, titled the New Cafe Chair, the second in Istanbul at Mimar Sinan University in 1996, titled the New Divan.  The third took place in the spring of 1997 in Moscow, Idaho at the University of Idaho, titled the Wilderness Chair.  A fourth is planned for the spring of 1998 in London, England at the Royal College of Art, titled the Hyde Park Chair.   The workshops will be compiled into a book titled "WORLD OF CHAIRS."

In November 1996 Van Nostrand Rhienhold published "ACCESS BY DESIGN," a book reviewing the best of universal design with George Covington, lawyer and design advocate.  A second book, "SCENARIOS"-- thinking about design, is in the works.  Some of the work from "SCENARIOS" appeared in Innovation Magazine in the fall of 1997.

In 1996 Bruce received tenure at Pratt Institute.

With the introduction of HANNAH LITE at the Royal College of Art in December 1996, Bruce continues his twenty five-year collaboration with THE KNOLL GROUP, with some pieces in continuous production for twenty-five years.  The HANNAH DESK SYSTEM for KNOLL celebrates its fifteenth birthday this year. Knoll International introduced the latest Hannah Desk system in November 1997.

Bruce co-curated and co-designed the exhibit "UNLIMITED BY DESIGN" that ran from November 1998 to March 1999 at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian.

Bruce received the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) National Education Award in September 1998 and in April 2000, he received a Federal Design Achievement Award for Unlimited by Design.  

To read a CNN Special about Bruce, click here: CNN In-Depth Specials - The Next Millennium Now What - Outlook


  • Unlimited By Design, Tokyo, Japan, March 1999

  • Unlimited By Design, Osaka, Japan, December 1999

  • Constructive Conflicts, IDSA, R.I.T., Rochester, NY April 2000     

  • Unlimited By Design, Design Exchange, Toronto, Canada, November 2000

  • Unlimited By Design, F. I. T., New York, February 2001

  • Unlimited By Design, Mayors Office on Disability, May 2001

  • Unlimited By Design, ASID Conference, New Jersey, September 2001

  • History of Design, Humanscale Seminars, Humanscale, New York,  July 2001


  • ABC World News Tonight, with Peter Jennings,  May 2001

  • New York Times, Aggressive Design

  • New York Times, Design and Aging

  • World Design Studio, Clock Design

Please e-mail your comments to Bruce: Bruce Hannah.