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Carl Clement

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Carl Clement In Memoriam
Carl Jennings Clement

August 8, 1921-June 7, 2011
Silicon Valley pioneer in design and technology


Mr. Clement's influence on modern-day product design began as Corporate Design Director of the legendary Hewlett-Packard company from 1951 through 1963 and continued through his term as a Vice-President of Spectra-Physics, at that time a fledgling laser company. Both companies to this day sell Clement-designed products whose imitators have been legion for the past five decades.
During this period he also taught product design at both Stanford and San Jose State Universities and was instrumental in changing the emphasis in industrial design education from a random cosmetic approach to a comprehensive system-oriented method, based upon a respect for the particular technological constraints on the one hand and the need for user-efficiency and aesthetic elegance on the other, all within a realistic manufacturing framework.
In the mid-Sixties, he assembled a team of industrial-designers and engineers educated in this new philosophy to serve the growing needs of Silicon Valley. During that period Clement Designlabs designed hundreds of highly profitable and elegant products for large established corporations and new ventures throughout the US and Europe, having received scores of patents and awards for design excellence in the process. During his career Mr. Clement designed products for a variety of fields; he would typically strap on climbing-spikes to reach the top of a utility pole one day, then don the obligatory cap, gown and rubber gloves to witness an open-heart surgery on the next. His work has been displayed worldwide, including a showing at the Louvre in Paris. His design of the first "mouse-icon" computer, the Xerox "Alto", on which the PC and Apple Macintosh computer are based is retained in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute and in 1962 he received the Fortune Magazine Award for the Hewlett-Packard modular system, introduced in the 1961 IEEE New York trade show. Dave Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard was quoted, "...our products had an elegance and finish which will be hard to duplicate. Carl Clement's new cabinet system was the hit of the show. In fact it was considered by many to be the most impressive contribution to the packaging of electronic instrumentation that has ever been made."
Mr. Clement is a founder of the San Francisco chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America, having served as one of IDSA's early regional vice-presidents. He was also a Life Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and was active in the American Electronics Association (AEA) having spearheaded the Wescon Industrial Design Awards program for many years.
A native of Seattle, Washington, Mr. Clement is a graduate and member of the Hall of Fame of Broadway High School (1939) and graduate of the University of Washington (1951). He also did Post-graduate work at MIT and the University of Santa Clara. He served in the US Army Signal Corps during WWII as Radar and Signal Operations Officer in the US and European theaters.
He was a competent self-educated jazz-pianist and arranger, having been invited during his youth to join Lionel Hampton's jazz ensemble.
Carl is survived by his wife, Catherine, their daughter Angela Clement Gomez, his children, Rex Clement, Adrienne Lee and Diane Bass, grandchildren Griffin Gomez and Michele Tomlinson and great-grandchildren Gregory and Rachel Tomlinson.



Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Aug. 11, 2013
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