It’s pretty obvious today that well-designed things sell better. Target, the Container Store, and Crate & Barrel have proven this. But no one demonstrates the point as strongly as Steve Jobs and Apple. The iPhone in particular shows that good looks matched with great functionality can be the ultimate game-changer.
If you read my posts on Wednesdays, you know I love good design: product design, brochure design, advertising graphics, signage, architecture, and interior design. Great industrial designers like Raymond Loewy and Henry Dreyfuss have had an impact on the quality of our daily lives long after they are gone.
Some of the most wonderful designs are applied to small things that we use everyday – like the iPhone. If you study the history of design, some of the coolest looking things have included food mixers, table radios, adding machines, telephones, toasters, vacuums, and fans. This continues to be true right up to the present: witness the iPhone and the Dyson vacuums.
You also probably know that one of my favorite design styles is “American streamlined,” closely related (stylistically and chronologically) to my fave Art Deco. Streamlining perhaps reached its peak in cars, trains, ships, and airplanes, but that same style also reached desktops and kitchen counter tops. Beautiful geometries, parallel lines, and sweeping curves ruled.
American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow by David A. Hanks and Anne Hoy (Flammarion 2005) is easily one of the most beautiful books in the art and design department of my library. If you can’t imagine what a “stunning photograph of a toaster” might be like, then you need to take a look at this book. 180 objects are brilliantly captured in color and black and white in this large format art book.
See how entrepreneurs, industrialists, and designers conspired to make every object at hand graceful and contemporary, yet still functional. See the inspiration for some of today’s best designs, be they from Target or Apple. See how the sweeping lines of speeding locomotives found their way into staplers and lawn mowers, shavers and accordions – and looked right at home. American Streamlined Design also pulls in other visual examples from transportation, advertising, architecture, and interior design to express the unity of style that was streamlining.
If you are a person who loves beautiful images, even in the mundane realm of the objects of daily life, you will like this book: I could flip through this book over and over again. Or if you are seeking design inspiration, trying to come up with some new ideas for your product or package, you may find the perfect ticket here.