Pioneers of American Industrial Design: 1880-1989
Posted on July 18, 2011 by Louise Devenish
Arts Connect Now
Written By Stacy Miles http://www.stacymiles-designer.com
Encompassing everything from consumer goods-such as furniture, kitchen appliances, vacuums, cars, and even airplanes, industrial design is the study and creation of products whose function and construction have been optimized for human use. The work of these inspirational designers of the 20th century the “Pioneers of American Industrial Design”, have transformed homes, offices and helped to shape the look of everyday life in the 20th century. Their design inspiration has leaded the way to the age of technology in design for the 21st century.
Back in 2011 I came across some stamps that were very inspiring to me as a designer in the 21st century. The U.S. Postal Service dedicated a new sheet of stamps honoring 12 of the nation’s most important and influential industrial designers. The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum was the setting for the dedication. The 12 designers who are honored on individual stamps include Peter Müller-Munk, Frederick Hurten Rhead, Raymond Loewy, Donald Deskey, Walter Dorwin Teague, Henry Dreyfuss, Norman Bel Geddes, Dave Chapman, Greta von Nessen, Eliot Noyes, Russel Wright and Gilbert Rohde.Joining Granholm to dedicate the stamps were Bill Moggridge, director, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; Ralph Caplan, design writer; Jessica Helfand and Sylvia Harris, Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee; Derry Noyes, art director; Margaret Bauer, art designer; and Stephen M. Kearney, executive director, Stamp Services.
Industrial design emerged as a profession in the United Sates in the 1920s, but really took off during the Great Depression. Faced with decreasing sales, manufacturers turned to industrial designers to give their products a modern look that would appeal to consumers. Characterized by horizontal lines and rounded shapes, the new, streamlined looks differed completely from the decorative extravagance of the 1920s. The designs evoked a sense of speed and efficiency and projected the image of progress and affluence the public desired.
Consumer interest in modern design continued to increase after World War II, when machines allowed corporations to mass produce vacuums, hair dryers, toasters and other consumer goods at low-cost. Industrial designers helped lower costs further by exploiting inexpensive new materials like plastic, vinyl, chrome, aluminum and plywood, which responded well to advances in manufacturing such as the use of molds and stamping. Affordable prices and growing prosperity nationwide helped drive popular demand.
Even as streamlining gave way to new looks in the 1960s, the groundbreaking work of industrial designers continued to transform the look of homes and offices across the country. Today, industrial design remains an integral component of American manufacturing and business, as well as daily life.
Each stamp features the name of a designer and a photograph of an object created by the designer, as well as a description of the object and the year or years when the object was created. The selvage features a photograph of the “Airflow” fan designed by Robert Heller around 1937. Derry Noyes, whose father is honored on this sheet of stamps, was the art director.
I am thinking it would be nice to have an interior design stamp collection ! I have some great images to share…