Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum Opens Quicktake: Stamps of Approval Installation

. August 12, 2011 . 0 Comments

Installation Debuts at Cooper-Hewitt and Will Travel Nationwide

“Quicktake: Stamps of Approval” features the work of American industrial designers recognized by the U.S. Postal Service in a new series of Forever stamps. The stamps commemorate 12 pioneers of American industrial design whose designs helped shaped the look of everyday life in the 20thcentury.

Organized by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum with the Philbrook Museum of Art, the “Quicktake” installation will debut in the Great Hall of Cooper-Hewitt Aug. 12 and run through Sept. 25, before continuing on a nationwide tour. Admission will be free.

The main exhibition galleries at Cooper-Hewitt remain closed as the museum embarks this fall on a $64 million expansion and renovation. Visitors continue to enjoy the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden and the Shop at Cooper-Hewitt, which are also open this summer without an admission fee.

The installation includes nine objects from the collection of George R. Kravis II and a related design drawing from the museum’s Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design department. Industrial design emerged as a profession in the United States in the 1920s and gained prominence during the Great Depression. The streamlined objects created by the designers of this period are characterized by horizontal lines and rounded shapes that evoked a sense of speed and efficiency and projected an image of progress and affluence. Modern design became still more popular after World War II, when manufactures again turned to industrial designers to focus on mass production for the American consumer.

“The groundbreaking work of these industrial designers transformed the look of homes and offices across the country,” said Caroline Baumann, associate director of the museum. “Following the successful stamp dedication ceremony at Cooper-Hewitt earlier this spring, this ‘Quicktake’ installation further celebrates the integral role these industrial designers played in American manufacturing and daily life.”

The works on view in the “Quicktake” installation are:

Henry Dreyfuss’ 1937 Model 302 Bell telephone, which set the standard for telephone design in the U.S. Dreyfuss was among the first to apply the principles of ergonomics to product design and considered the user to be the center and focus of his work.

Norman Bell Geddes’ 1940 “Patriot” radio, which featured a red-and-white grille representative of the American flag. Geddes was a noted champion of streamlining and created visionary new looks for cars, trains, planes and buildings, in addition to everyday objects.

Peter Müller-Munk’s 1935 “Normandie” pitcher, whose simple curves and form were characteristic of the streamlined modern style. The pitcher was constructed of chromium-plated brass, an alternative to silver that was easier to care for and more affordable.

Eliot Noyes’ 1961 “Selectric” typewriter for IBM, for whom he designed buildings, interiors and a range of office equipment. Noyes encouraged corporate clients to adopt long-lasting design principles, rather than changing a product’s design every year.

Frederick Hurten Rhead’s 1936 “Fiesta” pitcher, from the widely popular dinnerware, which transformed the look of domestic interiors across America. Introduced by the Homer Laughlin China Company, the ceramic tableware was moderately priced and available in brightly colored and durable glazes.

Walter Dorwin Teague’s 1934 “Baby Brownie” camera made of black Bakelite with Art Déco details on the box-shaped body. Teague viewed industrial design as both an art and an integral part of contemporary life, and was one of the founders of the American Society of Industrial Designers.

Greta von Nessen’s 1951 “Anywhere” lamp, which featured a tubular aluminum base and an adjustable shade made of enameled metal. The versatile lamp could be mounted on the wall, suspended from the ceiling or used on the table.

Russel Wright’s 1951 “Highlight/Pinch” flatware, which featured an organically shaped handle and no applied ornament. Wright created affordable modern furniture and tableware characterized by minimal but elegant forms. In addition to the flatware, the installation will also include a design drawing by Wright from the museum’s collection.

Category: Museum News

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