Nathan H. Shapira, an internationally renowned design scholar, curator and critic who was a UCLA faculty member for more than 40 years, died May 16 2009 at his home in Santa Monica. He was 80 years old.
Professor Shapira was a member of the Department of Design faculty since 1963 in charge of industrial and interior design. He was an authority on design for developing countries, on architecture and design in Los Angeles, and on Italian design throughout the United States and Europe.
He won many national and international design awards, addressed major international design conferences and contributed to leading international design periodicals, including Abitare, Construire, Domus, ID Magazine and Ottagano. His professional practice included graphic design, product design, packaging, architecture, interiors and exhibition designs.
He had a special interest in design for social responsibility and its relationship to industrial design and advanced technologies. His research and writings frequently addressed the theory that technology has widened the gap between rich and poor societies and that design could alleviate this problem. He maintained that future designers must concern themselves with the quality of life, not merely the decorative arts.
In 1987, the city of Trieste, Italy, honored him with the title of "Cavalieri," the Italian equivalent of a knighthood, for his curatorial direction and exhibit of "The Quest for Continuity" exhibit and other contributions to Italian society, culture and design. He also served as a research fellow at the universities of Trento and Bologna in Italy.
Most recently, Professor Shapira served as a consultant to the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles and a guest writer for the international architecture and design bilingual monthly, Ottagono, published in Italy.