Added : December 29, 2010

Last Updated: June 30, 2011

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TOPIC / Industrial Design

Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps

Pioneers of American Industrial Design stamps

As part of the 2011 commemorative postage stamp program just unveiled by the USPS, there is one set in particular that will probably make designers happy. In July 2011, a 12 stamp pane will honor industrial designers that were influential in the 20th century.
industrial design pioneers postage stamps usps
The 12 industrial design ‘pioneers’ are: Frederick Hurten Rhead, Walter Dorwin Teague, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, Donald Deskey, Gilbert Rohde, Greta von Nessen, Russel Wright, Henry Dreyfuss, Peter Müller-Munk, Dave Chapman, and Eliot Noyes. It is nice that they managed to fit in atleast one female designer in the group. Though only one woman out of twelve is a little disappointing, it is not at all surprising. In addition to the select group of twelve, Robert Heller’s “Airflow” fan designed in the 1930s is featured on the left-hand side of the souvenir sheet.
gilbert rohde electric clock postage stamp
Ranging from Walter Dorwin Teague’s design for the 1934 “Baby Brownie” to Henry Dreyfuss’ desk telephone to a clock designed by Gilbert Rohde to Frederick Hurten Rhead’s 1936 Fiesta line of ceramic tableware, the selection of designs and designers is a carefully curated group filled with few obvious selections. I always enjoy when I'm prompted to research a designer that I should have known a little more about.

Thank you again to Art Director Derry Noyes for bringing modern design to the USPS. Among Derry Noyes’ contributions are the Charles + Ray Eames stamps from 2008 and the Masterworks of Modern Architecture stamp pane from 2005.
frederick hurten rhead fiesta dinnersware stamps
Below is an interesting excerpt from the USPS press release for the new ‘Pioneers of American Industrial Design’ stamps:

“...Industrial design is the study and creation of products whose appearance, function, and construction have been optimized for human use. It emerged as a profession in the U.S. in the 1920s but really took hold during the 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, wind-resistant shapes, the new, streamlined looks differed completely from the decorative extravagance of the 1920s. They evoked a sense of speed and efficiency and projected the image of progress and affluence the public desired...”

I can’t help but wonder if Jessica Helfand’s position on the Postmaster General's Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee played a role in approval of this upcoming design-centric stamp set. Another reason I am interested the upcoming stamps is that the “pane’s verso includes a brief introduction to the history and importance of American industrial design, as well as text that identifies each object and briefly tells something about each designer.” Perhaps the best perk is that these stamps will be part of the Forever Stamp Program—I’ll want to stock up on these once they are available.

Updated June 30th, 2011:
Sheets of the “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” (Forever) stamps should now available to purchase at your local USPS Post Office. If standing in line at the post office is painful, the pane of 12 stamp designs can be ordered online at The Postal Store. This was my first time making a trip to the post office only to buy specific postage stamps (fortunately the line was very short). I bought enough stamps to hopefully cover my snail mail for the next couple of years. I'll make another trip solely to buy stamps in mid-August when the Pixar “Send a Hello” USPS (Forever) stamps are released.

To learn more about the individual designers selected as the 12 “Pioneers of American Industrial Design,” there is a pdf for additional reading. Also, the backside of the physical souvenir sheet of “Pioneers of American Industrial Design” postage stamps includes very brief descriptions of the designers and their one chosen icon of industrial design.


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