Lenny Bacich passed away yesterday. His impact on generations of designers is huge; he was kind, strange and had a serious set of eyes on him. For four or five decades he was the wizard behind the curtain of the Pratt Institute Industrial Design program, the cultivator of talent, and the guardian of decades of three dimensional design principles which he has instilled in thousands of students. He impacted my time at Pratt, and my life, in an indelible fashion. Always youthful, inquisitive and insightful, he had a way of finding what your strengths and weaknesses were, and helped hone them into something better. He believed in his students, he delighted in life, and his life and his work were intrinsically intertwined- he loved teaching. I am thankful that he went in style; that he had a class today that he missed- he is and will be missed.
I don’t think there are many former students of Lenny who don’t ever think to themselves “what would Lenny say?” while they are making an aesthetic decision. Thousands of beautiful objects look the way they do because of design decisions made while thinking “what would Lenny say?”
First class with Lenny, Fall 1999
February. 4, 2010
Lenny preached constantly that the key to making things visually interesting is found in the two simple words “Contrast and Variety. He also told us that those two words didn’t just apply to art and design, but applied to our lives as well. He told us that he lived his life by those two words… “contrast and variety”. He surrounded himself with a great variety of people with contrasting personalities and backgrounds. He sought out a variety of different experiences and contrasting opinions. He truly believed that contrast and variety wasn’t just the key to making the world visually interesting, but that those two words are also the key to leading a life full of variety, interest and excitement. I have never forgot that final lecture of my freshman year, and continue to strive to live by those same two words.
When I came to Pratt my intended major was Graphic Design. I had Lenny for 3D Design my freshman year. I excelled in his class and one day he asked what I was planning to major in. I said “Graphic Design”. He said “No you’re not”. This banter went on for weeks until the day came when I had to declare my major and register for sophomore year classes. I saw him right before I went for my academic advisement appointment and he asked again, “What are you going to major in?” As usual, I replied… “Graphic Design”. He laughed and walked away. I was really intending on declaring graphic design as my major but when the academic advisor asked me I blurted out “Industrial Design”. I almost couldn’t believe it, but yes, that is what I said. I have never regretted that decision in part because I was able to spend 3 years taking Lenny’s classes at Pratt, and I wouldn’t be were I am today without that, being one of the most valuable parts of my education.
First class with Lenny, Fall 1998
February. 4, 2010
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Lenny’s Lookout for great PDF downloads
Lenny was critical to the formation of this book and I highly recommend it. Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships
Stephen and I both felt like Lenny’s design children, as I am sure many of you did… Larry I know you did,
More of Lenny’s children…