Wednesday, January 5, 2011

U.S. Industrial Design Pioneers on Postage Stamps

For teachers who would like to introduce students to product design (industrial design) the U.S. Postal Service will be releasing a set of stamps featuring 12 of the United States' most influential industrial designers from the 20th century. The stamps won't be issued until July 2011 but they provide a good motivation to take a look at some designers who shaped the century. Parents will be impressed when their child tells them about the designers on the stamps.

With just a bit of research, students can find out about the birth of industrial design in America and see the development of common products at their early stages. The telephone, for example, has experienced a tremendous evolution in the last 100 years. Do you know who designed that old black desk model with the dial? Don't spoil the fun - let the students do the research themselves. They will be much more motivated than if you do the research and just tell them about it.

Any educated person should know the names and influence of product designers like Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes, Donald Deskey, Frederic Hurton Read, Peter Muller-Munk, Walter Darwin Teague, Dave Chapman, Henry Dreyfuss, Eliot Noyes, Russel Wright, Greta von Nessen, and Gilbert Rhode.

What can students find out about their lives?
What else did they design?
What companies did they work for?
Who are some contemporary designers who have carried on their work?
Who else could have been included on the list? (Cars aren't included, for example.)
What would a list include today? (shoe design, toothbrushes, computers, etc.)


Connie Z. said...

Do you have a suggestion for sources to send students to research these designers?

Martin Rayala, Ph.D. said...

Many of these designers have entire books written about them and others are in books written by people like Steven Heller. A Google search on Raymond Loewy, for example, turned up over 100,000 entries including a website devoted specifically to him.