Memorial Resolution: Rolf Arne Faste

Rolf Arne Faste

Rolf Arne Faste

ROLF ARNE FASTE (1943-2003)Rolf Arne Faste was born on September 6, 1943 in Seattle, Washington. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, Engineering Design at Tufts University (where he wrote a masters thesis entitled "A Visual Extension to Synetics Theory,") and Architecture at Syracuse University. He was on the design faculty at Syracuse University from 1971-1984, teaching classes ranging from "principles of industrial design," to "statics" to "computer aided design."

Rolf joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty at Stanford University in 1984 as director of the product design program. His years at Stanford were filled with doing, pondering and loving.

Rolf was a doer. His hands were seldom at rest—if he was not sketching up a new idea, he was fashioning the hull of a model yacht, or acting out a notion for a student using his hands (or more likely using his whole body). His doing included creating and teaching a wondrous array of courses, such as Ambidextrous Thinking, Calibrating the Instrument, Expression of Function, and Aesthetics of Machinery. While these classes used a variety of pedagogies—drawing, meditation, improv, play, dance—they all had at their core the student—each student finding, exploring, pushing, refining and celebrating their creativity, their sense of wonder and their inner child.

He consulted and lectured widely, pushing companies, universities and schools to rethink their products, processes, images and intent. He has several patents to his credit.

His doing also included being an active Stanford citizen. He and his wife Linda served as resident fellows at Toyon Hall for 9 years (1994-2003) where they lived with and served as intellectual role models for the dormitory's 210 residents. During his stay in Toyon he participated in its major renovation—and the result embodies his value of natural light and community spaces. At the same time he served as the intellectual, spiritual and administrative leader of the product design program. This program uniquely combines art and mechanical engineering—the focus of the program is on the intersection of technology with human needs and aspirations.

Rolf was a ponderer about design and creativity. In his own words, his intellectual concerns were on:

How to encourage utilization of all of an individual's talents and capabilities in the problem solving process;

How to teach ambidextrous thinking which encourages use of an individual's kinesthetic, visual and symbolic abilities in a holistic fashion;

How to find, identify and empathize with significant human needs which, in turn, can be successfully addressed by design;

How to access both the technological and emotional sources of design inspiration (science and engineering combined with art and psychology), and how to synthesize these points of view into successful designs.

His thinking on these matters was communicated in writings, lectures and foremost, in his teaching. He also explored these concerns starting in the mid-1990s by taking a series of courses on kinesiology, which lead to his becoming a credentialed Edu-K instructor.

Rolf Faste was also a lover. He loved Linda (his wife of 32 years) and their two artist sons Trygve Andreas and Haakon Anthony. He loved sailing, small British sports cars, chocolate, meditation and espresso. In other words, he loved life.

Rolf Faste was a doer, a ponderer and a lover. He died on March 6, 2003. Rolf is sorely missed. We are thankful that we worked, laughed and cried with him. He forever changed us. We are comforted that his spirit lives on in the hundreds of students he worked with, in his family, and in his many friends and colleagues.


Sheri Sheppard

David Kelley