Pioneers of American Industrial Design

Pioneers of American Industrial Design

The Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamp pane honors 12 of the nation's most important and influential industrial designers. Encompassing everything from furniture and electric kitchen appliances to corporate office buildings and passenger trains, the work of these designers helped shape the look of everyday life in the 20th century. The stamps go on sale in July.

Industrial design is the study and creation of products whose appearance, function, and construction have been optimized for human use. It emerged as a profession in the U.S. in the 1920s but really took hold during the 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, 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 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.

Pioneers of American Industrial Design

Art director Derry Noyes selected objects designed by 12 of the nation's most important and influential industrial designers to feature on this colorful pane of self-adhesive stamps. The selvage features a photograph of the "Airflow" fan designed by Robert Heller around 1937. Denis Farley photographed the fan for The Macdonald Stewart Foundation.

Each stamp includes the designer's name, the type of object, and the year or years when the object was created. The pane's verso includes a brief introduction to the history and importance of American industrial design, as well as text that identifies each object and briefly tells something about each designer.

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