American Design Heroes Honoured on Stamps

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Finally some of the great heroes of American design are being honoured by the US Postal Service. The twelve designers (one lone female) that have been chosen represent the most important and, dare we say it, iconic designs of the twentieth century.

The shapes and designs and products are imprinted on our collective memory as they changed the look of everyday life from the 1930's onward.

fred rhead photo

Photo: design:related

The 12 industrial design 'pioneers' are: Frederick Hurten Rhead, Walter Dorwin Teague, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, Donald Deskey, Gilbert Rohde, Greta von Nessen, Russel Wright, Henry Dreyfuss, Peter Müller-Munk, Dave Chapman, and Eliot Noyes. 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.

gilb rohde photo

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The designers' work includes the wonderful Fiesta dinner ware from 1936, Eliot Noyes' 1961 "Selectric" typewriter for IBM, Walter Dorwin Teague's 1934 "Baby Brownie" camera made of black Bakelite with Art Deco details (with Kodak film,of course--that should have been a stamp) and Russel Wright's 1951 "Highlight/Pinch" flatware, with its organically shaped handle.

Industrial design really came into its own in the USA during the Depression years. "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, wind-resistant shapes, the new, streamlined looks differed completely from the decorative extravagance of the 1920s. They 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 moulds and stamping. Affordable prices and growing prosperity nationwide helped drive popular demand."

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