Black, Sir Misha

views updated


BLACK, SIR MISHA (1910–1977), British architect and industrial designer. Born in Baku, Russia, Black was taken to England as an infant. Before World War ii he helped to found the Artists International Association, a radical organization with an anti-Nazi program for assisting refugee artists then attempting to enter Great Britain. In 1933 together with the designer Milner Gray he set up a firm called Industrial Design Partnership in an effort to bring total design methods to Britain. In 1944 they founded the Design Research Unit. Black became a nationally recognized design leader as coordinating architect for a major part of the 1951 Festival of Britain; he later took part in the design of exhibitions in many other countries. Among the most important activities of the Design Research Unit is the redesigning of British Railways, including Black's designs for a diesel locomotive and an electric train, supervision of the Victoria Line opened by the London Underground in 1969, and the Clore Pavilion at the London Zoo.

Black was appointed professor of industrial engineering design at the Royal College of Art in 1959. He served as president of the British Society of Industrial Arts and Design and as a trustee of the British Museum. His publications on exhibition and interior design include The Practice of Design (1946) and Public Interiors (1959). He was the brother of the philosopher Max *Black (1909–1988), who chiefly taught at Cornell University in the United States.


Art and Industry, 63 (Sept. 1957), 106. add. bibliography: odnb online; A. Blake, Misha Black (1984).

[Charles Samuel Spencer]