January 31, 2018
Stamps Professor Emeritus Allen Samuels is featured in a new article and video profile by the University Record that focuses on his continuing post-retirement practice, teaching, and mentorship.
A decade after retiring from the University of Michigan, Allen Samuels still helps Wolverines reach their dreams — one design at a time.
Before joining the faculty in 1975, Samuels, professor emeritus and dean emeritus in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, worked as an industrial designer for companies like Westinghouse, Corning Glass Works, and Black and Decker.
Samuels can trace his love for creating back to his childhood. He says he took things apart, his grandfather often handing him a screwdriver and a clock or other piece of “junk” to keep him busy.
“I wanted to invent things, and that’s what product design really is,” Samuels said. “Our discipline is about the culture. It’s about designing objects that enable humans to enrich the culture.”
After serving as dean of the art school from 1993-99, he retired from the university in 2008.
Nowadays, Samuels spends his time designing products without the pressures of meeting profitability or client goals. Inside his Ann Arbor studio, crammed to the ceiling with prototypes of various colors and shapes, his products often focus on issues of aging, disability and disaster relief.
But even in retirement, Samuels isn’t taking a break from teaching. He uses his spare time to help U-M students develop their own designs and launch businesses that tackle social issues and empower others.