The Museum’s historic Good Design program originated in Chicago in 1950 and was organized by Edgar J. Kaufmann, Jr., former curator of the Museum of Modern Art. Originally the program introduced state-of-the-art, modern products into the office and the home marketplace throughout the post-World War II decade.
The program featured products and installations by some of America’s pioneers of modern design including: Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Russel Wright, and Florence Knoll, George Nelson—the most prominent design minds in America in the 1950s who blazoned a new international direction in design.
The Jury for Good Design based their decisions on aesthetic criteria stated in the original 1950 Program—criteria which measures innovation, form, materials, construction, concept, function and utility. Product appearance and aesthetic appeal is also considered. Both the 1950s and the competitions of the new millennium encourage manufacturers and designers to improve their design standards and quality. The Museum allows and encourages winning designers and manufacturers to use the Good Design logo through a special license, the design by the late Chicago industrial designer, Mort Goldsholl in 1950, on product packaging, marketing, and promotions—just as it was used in during the 1950s.
Good Design is organized by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design—one of the Chicago area's most prestigious cultural institutions and the only museum of architecture and design in the United States.
The winners of the Good Design Award receive furthermore the licence to use the Good Design Logo which was created in 1950 by the American industrial designer Mort Goldsholl.