Misha Black

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Sir Misha Black OBE (16 October 1910 – 11 October 1977) was a British architect and designer. In 1933 he founded with associates in London the organisation that became the Artists’ International Association. In 1943, with Milner Gray and Herbert Read, Sir Misha Black founded Design Research Unit, a London-based Architectural, Graphic Design and Interior Design Company.

He was born in 1910 in Baku, Russian Empire (now Azerbaijan) into wealthy Jewish family. From 1959 to 1975 Black was a professor of industrial design at the Royal College of Art in London, England. During his tenure at the Royal College of Art, he became President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) from 1959 to 1961, he was also a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers, and winner of the Minerva Medal, the Society's highest award. He was knighted in 1972.[1] Between 1974 and 1976 Black was President of the Design and Industries Association.[2]

Notable works[edit]

Black is remembered largely for his iconic design of the Westminster street name signs; the black/brown/orange/yellow moquette originally used by London Transport and also the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive in the late 1970s onwards; and for the external styling of British Railways Southern Region British Rail Class 71 electric locomotives of 1958 and Western Region British Rail Class 52 diesel locomotives of 1961, he also designed the London Underground 1967 Stock that was used on the Victoria line between 1967 and 2011.[3] On 27 July 2003 at Salisbury station, a preserved Class 52 D1015 named "Western Champion" was unveiled carrying temporary "Sir Misha Black" nameplates.[4]


  • Black, Sir Misha (1983). Blake, Avril (ed.). The Black Papers on Design: Selected Writings of the Late Sir Misha Black. Pergamon Press. ISBN 0080267718.


Black played an active part[clarification needed] in UNESCO.[citation needed] His brother was the philosopher Max Black.


Black is commemorated in The Sir Misha Black Awards, created in 1978 by the Design and Industries Association, the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry (RDI), and the Royal Academy of Engineering, he was influential in framing the educational discipline of Industrial Design (Engineering) in the UK at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and also the foundation of the academic discipline of Design Research by facilitating the Professorial role offered to Bruce Archer in the first Department of Design Research at the RCA. Recipients include prestigious design educators such as Max Bill (1982), Ettore Sottsass (1999), Santiago Calatrava (2002) and Margaret Calvert (2016). Arts University Bournemouth received the Award in 2016 and is the only university or college of art to receive the award in its history.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "No. 45678". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 1972. p. 6255.
  2. ^ Misha Black at archINFORM
  3. ^ Bayman, Bob (2000). Underground – Official Handbook. Capital Transport. p. 66.
  4. ^ D1015 is owned by the Diesel Traction Group
  5. ^ Misha Black Award recipients http://www.mishablackawards.org.uk/the-award. Retrieved 7 April 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)

Further reading[edit]

  • Spencer, Charles Samuel (2007). "Black, Sir Misha". In Skolnik, Fred; Berenbaum, Michael (eds.). Encyclopedia Judaica. 3: Ba-Blo. Granite Hill. ISBN 9780028659312.

External links[edit]