Postal Service Honors Industrial Designers with 12 'Forever' Stamps

By David M. Kinchen
Postal Service Honors Industrial Designers with 12 'Forever' Stamps
I missed the press release last month from the U.S. Postal Service, but my sister Natasha Yuhas in Chicago alerted me on Thursday, July 21 to the July 20, 2011 Chicago Tribune story (link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/books/ct-ent-0721-selectric-stamp-20110720,0,1271549.column) about the "forever" stamp honoring the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the IBM Selectric typewriter -- the one with the "golf-ball" element -- designed by Eliot Noyes. He was one of 12 designers honored with stamps.

The 12 designers who are honored on individual stamps -- in addition to Noyes -- include Peter Müller-Munk, Frederick Hurten Rhead, Raymond Loewy, Donald Deskey, Walter Dorwin Teague, Henry Dreyfuss, Norman Bel Geddes, Dave Chapman, Greta von Nessen, Russel Wright and Gilbert Rohde.

Postal Service Honors Industrial Designers with 12 'Forever' Stamps

“Encompassing everything from furniture and electric kitchen appliances to corporate office buildings and passenger trains, the work of these designers defined the look of modern America, and in doing, revolutionized the way we live and work,” said Dean Granholm, Postal Service vice president of Delivery and Post Office Operations, at last month's  ceremony at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Joining Granholm to dedicate the stamps were Bill Moggridge, director, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; Ralph Caplan, design writer; Jessica Helfand and Sylvia Harris, Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee; Derry Noyes, art director; Margaret Bauer, art designer; and Stephen M. Kearney, executive director, Stamp Services.

Each stamp features the name of a designer and a photograph of an object created by the designer, as well as a description of the object and the year or years when the object was created. The selvage features a photograph of the “Airflow” fan designed by Robert Heller around 1937. Derry Noyes, whose father is honored on this sheet of stamps, was the art director.

The Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps should be available at local Post Offices, online at usps.com and through the toll-free line, 1-800 782-6724.

For additional information on Pioneers of American Industrial Design:http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2011/pr11_078_pioneers.pdf.

From the USPS press release:
"Industrial design emerged as a profession in the United Sates in the 1920s, but really took off during the Great Depression. Faced with decreasing sales, manufacturers turned to industrial designers to give their products a modern look that would appeal to consumers. Characterized by horizontal lines and rounded shapes, the new, streamlined looks differed completely from the decorative extravagance of the 1920s. The designs evoked a sense of speed and efficiency and projected the image of progress and affluence the public desired.

"Consumer interest in modern design continued to increase after World War II, when machines allowed corporations to mass produce vacuums, hair dryers, toasters and other consumer goods at low cost. Industrial designers helped lower costs further by exploiting inexpensive new materials like plastic, vinyl, chrome, aluminum and plywood, which responded well to advances in manufacturing such as the use of molds and stamping. Affordable prices and growing prosperity nationwide helped drive popular demand.

"Even as streamlining gave way to new looks in the 1960s, the groundbreaking work of industrial designers continued to transform the look of homes and offices across the country. Today, industrial design remains an integral component of American manufacturing and business, as well as daily life."

Accompanying this story is a photograph of my own Selectric I typewriter, which I found in working condition a few years ago at a Goodwill store -- for $5. I've found ribbons online, as well as additional elements for the "golf-ball" mechanism. It types beautifully.
As a kid in high school, I wanted to be an industrial designer, but the cost of attending a private university that taught the subject was way beyond my budget. As a journalist at the Los Angeles Times, I met and worked with reporter John Dreyfuss, whose father Henry Dreyfuss was among the 12 honored by the USPS.
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