Industrial designer Egmont Arens (1889 - 1966) wrote the attached design review covering the American cars of 1937:
"Perhaps it was just one of life's little ironies that overtook the automobile manufacturers a year ago. In their zeal to provide what they called 'streamlined' design, they took the tear-drop for their model, and the results were tearful indeed - to the sales managers. For they all looked alike..."
"The word 'Streamlining' got everybody a little confused, I am afraid, and off the track. Here was a term out of aerodynamics, invented to describe a solid shape that moves easily through fluid mediums, as the wings and fuselage of an airplane. The human eye responded gratefully to the flow of line prescribed by the laws of physics, and thus streamlining became synonymous with modern beauty. Industrial designers sprang up at every hand, and their main business was 'streamlining'."
Read about the Great Depression and the U.S. auto industry...
Norman Bel Geddes (1893 – 1958) was one of the prominent industrial designers to practice a style known as "streamline modern". Always mentioned in the same breath as Henry Dreyfuss and Raymond Lowey, Norman Bel Geddes opened his office in 1927 and helped to give the 1930s a defining look. He was the first of his kind to recognize that American manufacturers were sincerely interested in the marketing of modern design.
The sleek, aerodynamic lines of 1930s streamlining can clearly bee seen in the thirteen images illustrating the attached article about his work, which was written by Douglas Haskell, a well-known design critic active throughout much of the period spanning the mid-Twenties through the mid-Sixties; the column was intended to serve as a review for Geddes' 1932 book, Horizons.
A small notice from a news digest featured a photograph of a carpet that was designed by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy (1893 – 1986) in the early Fifties"
"Something new in room dividers are area rugs designed by Raymond Loewy to define areas of activity within a room; dining sections, TV corners for example. Sophisticated but adaptable to almost all interiors, the new rugs come in such decorator colors as pink, lime green [and] turquoise."
Attached is an article about the work of the American industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss (1904 – 1972):
"At 43, Henry Dreyfuss is enormously successful, a fact which he makes every effort to conceal... In designing a typewriter, he measured the fingers of hundreds of typists. In creating a new chair for plane or train, he doesn't settle for the fact that the chair simply seems comfortable. He hires an orthopedic surgeon to advise."
"Industrial design was barely getting started when the 1929 Depression struck. America's economic collapse may have meant calamity for millions of people, but for designers it spelled golden opportunity. Savage competition became the rule. To stay in business, a manufacturer had to give his products new utility, new eye-appeal..."
Bereft of all but one illustration, this five page article delves into the design philosophy of the architect Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983) - who was very fond of the word "dymaxion":
"Fuller argues that the social function of machinery is to eliminate the unpleasant phases of life in the shortest possible space of time. Housing, or 'shelter' as he prefers to call it, should be, fundamentally, 'a machine for living.'"
This is an early Thirties profile of a young American sculptor named Isamu Noguchi (1904 – 1988). In the years to come, Noguchi would become well known for his innovative designs for lamps and furniture; but when this article first appeared he was admired for simply having served as an apprentice to Constantin Brancussi.
Click here to read a 1946 art review concerning the paintings of French architect Le-Corbusier.