design history essay

  • Explain how Streamlining was applied to objects during the 1920s and 1930s. Explain why designers used Streamlining. What was is meant to accomplish? Provide four specific object examples.

Streamlined Modern 1930-1939

-Social forces:

Economic Depression

Faith in technology


Cars, planes and trains

Professional designers

New materials & manufacturing methods

Visual Characteristics

Aerodynamic forms

Unified envelope / housing

Smooth curved surfaces

Appearance of motion

Contour / Flow lines ornamentation

Clear simple human interfaces

Legibility in type and use

Four examples are:

Model 30 Vacuum Cleaner, Chrome-plated steel, aluminum, vinyl, rubber, plastic, 1937, United States, Lurelle Guild (designer), Electrolux (maker), Streamlined:

  • Streamlined design. Has multiple functions giving it versatility and desire
  • Made in aluminum which was a new material & uses Horizontal lines
  • The design implies speed and efficiency in housework: seemed like progress during depression period
  • Bold sans serif typeface screams the name-brand
  • The new wave of cleaning products was all about creating more work
  • Had a polishing attachment, a floor cleaner, and vaporizer for dispersing moth crystals.
  • Modernity showed through the use of new material
  • Fashionable yet relatively inexpensive, not restricted to the wealthy upper class.

“Zephyr Clock”, Brass and urea formaldehyde plastic, 1934, United States, Kem Weber (b. Germany) (designer), Lawson Time Inc., Streamlined:

  • Machine age style
  • Sleek look with horizontal lines
  • Inspired by ocean liners and skyscrapers.
  • Smooth surfaces and rounded corners

K4S Steam Locomotive, Welded sheet metal, 1936, United States, Raymond Loewy (designer), Streamlined

Model for Motor Car Number 9, 1932, United States, Norman Bel Geddes (designer), Streamlined

Attached are the photos of each example.

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