Stamps: Industrial Design Pioneers & Eames

I was running an errand at a nearby post office when I chanced upon the Pioneers of Industrial Design Set on sale among the stamps. The love of stamps is such a lost art owing to the rarity of snail mail these days, and the functional design of stamps to celebrate occasions and holidays. It’s always great to see stamps designed to commemorate artists and designers.

Pioneers of Industrial Design set – landmark designs by 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, Gilbert Rohde

L-R from top left:

Normandie Pitcher by Peter Müller-Munk – a chromium-plated brass pitcher that was easier to care for than traditional silver. Note the simple curves and teardrop shape and a plain, streamlined design devoid of detail.

Fiesta Pitcher by Frederick Hurten Rhead – a symbol of the moderately priced ceramic tableware that introduced ideas of mixing and matching bold colors with the emphasis on clean lines and modern design.

Pencil Sharpener by Raymond Loewy – a prototype that exemplified his firm’s other large designs of trains, cars and household appliances, the sharpener is part of the designer’s claim: “I can say of myself that I have made the mundane side of the 20th century more beautiful.”

Table Lamp by Donald Deskey – showed a new and innovative use of nontraditional industrial materials such as wood veneer, chrome, cork, linoleum and aluminum. Deskey was among the most innovative industrial designers who made full use of technological advancements allowing mass production.

Baby Brownie Camera by Walter Dorwin Teague – made of Bakelight, this camera which had art deco details also used a foldable metal viewfinder. Teague worked with Kodak to design several popular cameras and believed that good artistic design fit both form and function in one aesthetic package.

1937 Model 302 Bell Telephone by Henry Dreyfuss – the telephone that became the standard of phone design because of its improved balance and appearance.

Patriot Radio by Norman Bel Geddes – the red and white grille was supposed to echo the stripes of the American flag, this appliance was one of the designers products as the champion of streamlining in design.

Streamlined Sewing Machine by Dave Chapman – The prototype was exhibited in the first exhibition of the American Society of Industrial Designers in 1947 and featured a chrome grille that mimicked the look of its contemporary automobiles.

Anywhere Lamp by Greta von Nessen – a tubular aluminum base and an adjustable shade made of enameled metal were the features of this popular 1951 lamp designed by the only female designer featured in this set.

1961 Selectric Typewriter by Eliot Noyes – This machine bridged the gap between business and art as part of his long-term partnership with IBM.

Highlight/Pinch Flatware by Russel Wright – a design that was the first to have no applied ornament while having minimal but elegant forms, these utensils were part of the table ware that revolutionized the way Americans lived when they ditched elaborate early 20th century design for simple and informal practicality.

1933 Herman Miller Clock by Gilbert Rohde – based on simplicity and practicality, this clock used black Carrara glass that abstracted the clock face. This appliance exemplified Rohde’s use of Bakelite, Plexiglass and other materials that were newly introduced during that time.

1937 Airflow Fan by Robert Heller – featured on the stamp’s sheet or the selvage, this design evokes the aerodynamics of an airplane.

(Source here.)

I had to get this set because I’m a fan of modern design. The creativity to transform everyday objects from their classical extravagant design to more modern, streamlined profiles was something that was pivotal to how these things look today. Emphasis on solid lines and rounded edges, bold colors and an industrial feel are all trademarks of these creations from the 1920s onward, owing to their designers’ objective to boost sales during the Great Depression. More info on the stamps here.

It definitely is a different feeling to own an everyday object or appliance not just as a functional piece but as a work of art as well. This set of stamps celebrates that move in purpose. The designers of this stamp set mentioned that a number of these industrial designers actually designed objects that were larger than life (Donald Deskey’s interiors for Radio City Music Hall, Eliot Noyes’ buildings and interiors for IBM, and Norman Bel Geddes’ designs for trains and airplanes), but the grandeur of these creations would have been lost if featured on a stamp. This is the reason they focused on smaller objects, because their details were easier to portray in a small medium, and because these objects were more accessible and visible to the consumer than the larger creations were.

Eames stamp set, 2008. Had to have.

Doing research for this stamp allowed me the discovery of the Eames set that totally came and went in 2008 without my knowledge. My bitter half R loves Eames furniture and design so I definitely had to get it (though at a collector’s price now from Ebay!). It’s my pleasure to feature it here as well. More information on Charles and Ray Eames here.

The next mission is to frame these stamps to add to the walls of our home. 🙂

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