A traveling exhibition featuring the work of American Industrial designers, who helped to shape the look of everyday life in the 20th centurym have been given their due recognition by the U.S. Postal Service in a new series of Forever stamps.
The exhibition, organized by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, will continue on to the Philbrook Museum of Art in 2012.
It was an era of modernism characterized by horizontal lines and round shapes projecting an image of speed and efficiency and emerged as a profession in the United States in the 1920s. Industrial design gained prominence during the Great Depression and evoked the streamlined sensibilities of a new era, often referred to as Art Deco.
The stamps include:
Walter Dorwin Teague’s 1934 “Baby Brownie” camera was made of black Bakelite with Art Deco details on the box-shaped box. Teague viewed industrial design as both an art and an integral part of contemporary life, and was one of the founders of the American Society of Industrial Designers.
Peter Muller-Munk’s 1935 “Normandie” pitcher’s simple curves and form were characteristic of the streamlined modern style. The pitcher was constructed of chromium-plated brass, an alternative to silver that was easier to care for and more affordable.
Frederick Hurten Rhead’s 1936 “Fiesta” pitcher, from the widely popular dinnerware transformed the look of domestic interiors across America. Introduced by the Homer Laughlin China Col, the ceramic tableware was moderately priced and available in brightly colored and durable glazes.
Henry Dreyfuss’ 1937 Model 302 Bell telephone set the standard for telephone design in the U.S. Dreyfuss was among the first to apple the principles of ergonomics to product design and considered the user to be the center and focus of his work.
Norman Bell Geddes’ 1940 “Patriot” radio featured a red-and-white grille representative of the American flag. Geddes was a noted champion of streamlining and created visionary new looks for cars, trains, planes and building, in addition to everyday objects.
Russel Wright’s 1951 “highlight/Pinch” flatware featured an organically shaped handle and no applied ornament. Wright created affordable modern furniture and tableware characterized by minimal but elegant forms.
Greta von Nessen’s 1951 “Anywhere” lamp featured a tubular aluminum base and an adjustable shade made of enameled metal. The versatile lamp could be mounted on the wall, suspended from the ceiling or used on the table.
Eliot Noyes’ 1961 “Selectric” typewriter for IBM, for whom he designed buildings, interiors and a range of office equipment, encouraged corporate clients to adopt long-lasting design principles, rather than changing a product’s design each year.
Other designers honored as “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” are Dave Chapman, Donald Deskey, Gilbert Rohde and Raymond Loewy.
The groundbreaking work of these designers transformed the look of homes and offices across the country and celebrates the integral role these industrial designers played in American manufacturing and daily life. Modern design became still more popular after World War II, when manufacturers again turned to industrial designers to focus on mass production for the American consumer.
The stamps were dedicated June 29, 2011 at a ceremony at Cooper-Hewitt. Pioneers of Industrial Design Forever stamps are available at most U.S. Post Offices or online at www.usps.com/shop.
Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com