Dale Fahnstrom was Professor Emeritus of IIT Institute of Design, on the faculty from 1966 to 2011. His focus was working with individual students on human-centered product design and development projects. Dale was co-principal investigator on a $431,000 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant to explore informal learning environments in libraries resulting in a project called ThinkeringSpace.
He designed products for Knoll International, Philips Electronics N.V., Steelcase, Brayton International, Vecta Contract, and NEC Technologies, Inc. His Bulldog Chair, designed with Michael McCoy and introduced in 1990 by Knoll, was the largest-selling seating product in the manufacturer’s line throughout the 1990s. His individual work and projects through his partnership in Fahnstrom/McCoy won numerous design awards including a Best of Category Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) and a Second Prize in the Japan Design The Future Competition. His early work in packaging design is featured in the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Dale received the first Midwest Honors Educators Achievement Award from the Midwest Chapter of the IDSA in spring 2007.
After retirement from ID, he continued his interest in designing environmentally responsible products. His RecycleDesign line of outdoor public seating and site amenities integrates plastics and metals reclaimed from the public waste stream and are installed in park, city, and corporate landscape spaces throughout the United States. A bench sample is in the collection of The Design Museum, London, and the line received a Good Design award in 1996.