In 1938, with great fanfare, New York Central introduced 10 new streamliner steam engines and cars designed by Henry Dreyfuss for its Twentieth Century Limited New-York-Chicago run. An upgraded version of his Mercury design, the new J 3 4-6-4 Hudson locomotives featured finned bullet-noses reminiscent of ancient warrior helmets. “Streamlining” proved to be so popular that many products of the time developed this form, including this Steam Iron designed by Dreyfuss in 1948.
Steam Iron, 1948, by Henry Dreyfuss, for the General Electric Company, Lynn, USA
Jo Hammerborg Zero pendant for Fog & Meurop Denmark at City Furniture
The classic Stelton vacuum jug with the unique rocker stopper was introduced in 1977 and the same year awarded the ID-prize by the Danish Society of Industrial Design. Since then it has attracted considerable attention for its functionalistic design.
Designed by Eric Magnussen in 1976, the unique sealing system has made this Danish classic with its tall, slender form world famous. Due to the special tipping mechanism, the Stelton flask opens automatically. The lid closes again, aroma-tight, when put down again.
Stelton Vacuum Jug, by Erik Magnussen, for Stelton
Introduced in 1972 by Artemide, the Tizio lamp represented a breakthrough in more ways than one. The metal arms, which conduct the low-voltage electricity from the transformer in the base to the bulb, are perfectly counterbalanced and can hold in any position. The Tizio incorporated a halogen bulb, one of the first uses of this technology outside the automotive industry. Favoured by architects who wear bow ties and very much associated with image and power in the 1980′s, it is a winner of the Compasso d’Oro in 1989. It’s now a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Tizio lamp, by Richard Sapper, for Artemide
The PK80 daybed was designed by Poul Kjærholm in 1957. Characterized by its low height and distinguished aesthetic, it can be found in museums all over the world. Kjærholm had a particular interest in various construction materials; especially steel, which he considered a natural material. He was a trained carpenter who continued studies at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts. He moved on to work at Fritz Hansen, for about a year, where he designed a number of noteworthy chair prototypes. This particular model was designed for Ejvind Kold Christensen, today it is produced by Fritz Hansen
PK80 daybed, by Poul Kjærholm, for Fritz Hansen
Designed by Corradino D’Ascanio, an engineer at Piaggio, who also designed, constructed and flew the first modern helicopter. A man who hated motorcycles, D’Ascanio dreamed up this revolutionary new vehicle; drawing from the latest aeronautical technology, he imagined a vehicle built on a unibody steel chassis, the front fork, like a plane’s landing gear, allowed for easy wheel changing. The result was an aircraft-inspired design that to this day remains forward-thinking and unique among all other two-wheeled vehicles.
Upon seeing the vehicle, Enrico Piaggio remarked “Sembra una Vespa!” (“It looks like a wasp!”) and the name stuck. Vespa has lived on from one generation to the next, subtly modifying its image each time. The first Vespa offered mobility to everyone, then, it became the two-wheeler of the post war economic boom. During the sixties and seventies, the vehicle became a symbol for the revolutionary ideas of the time. Advertising campaigns like “He Who Vespas, eats the apple”, and films such as Quadrophenia have come to symbolized these eras.
Ease of travel in the jet age encouraged a growing fusion of cultural influences after World War II. Although Sori Yanagi’s stool was designed and manufactured in Japan, it employs western forms (the stool) and the material (bent plywood). Its calligraphic elegance, however, suggests a distinctly Asian sensibility despite the rarity of such seating furniture in traditional Japanese culture. The stool is made from two curving and inverted L-shaped sections, each forming one leg and half of the seat. A metal rod midway between the legs serves as a stretcher and holds the stool together.
Butterfly Stool, 1956, by Sori Yanagi (Japanese, born 1915); Originally manufactured by Tendo Co. Ltd. Now sold by Vitra.
Polaroid’s first fully automatic, motorized camera was an instant design classic, even starring in a documentary the year it was introduced by company cofounder Edwin Land. The camera is detailed with tan leather and folds into a rectangle the size of a paperback book. Smart.
Polaroid SX-70, by Edwin Land, for Polaroid
The Panton Chair is the first cantilevered chair made from a single piece of plastic. Sleek, sexy and a technical first, the Panton was the chair of the era. A glossy red Panton featured in Nova magazine’s 1970 shoot in which a model demonstrated “How to undress in front of your husband”.
Panton Classic Chair, 1968, by Verner Panton, for Vitra