"Icons of Design The 20th Century" is the third book review of great product designs. Industrial designers created many of the product designs in this book. There are 83 products selected and presented by 23 authors - only 5 of the authors are American and most of the rest are European. In the book's FOREWORD industrial designer and art historian Reyer Kras makes interesting comparisons between the Christian icon and the industrial icon.
Industrial Designer Kras also compares the shift within the past 10 years from the mechanical revolution to a new peak in a electronics revolution in the past 10 years. The way mechanical appliances operate has disappeared for many functions - "Certain functions...have dematerialized, vanished into the caverns of the chip, the hard drive and the digital network". His conclusion "This shift in technology has also impacted how industrial designers envision and shape electronically controlled products."
If the need to design the product - the image- disappears, will that be the end of this profession? Or will the designer be able to create an intangible context? In the future this is destined to pose one of the greatest challenges to the designer." In some ways this parallel's Jay Doblin's concern 30 or more years prior about the impact "that the combination of intellectronics and automation" would have. Maybe it is no coincidence that the Internet was the product selected for 1990 and the last product selected (for the year 2000) in "Icons of Design The 20th Century" is Virtual Reality.
The Savoy vase 1937 - Alvar Aalto - his most important contribution to 20th Century glass design and an early example of organic design.
First published in 2000 and again in 2004 this book has each object shown in color photographs with illustrations of its use. With most of the products there is a timeline description and small photograph of the designer along with a full page description of the history and significance of each product.
The format is quite similar to that of industrial designer Jay Doblin's 1970 book "One Hundred Great Product Designs". Both books are also in chronological order with the year they came out shown next to the product name. There are two pages on each product and one of the pages is a large picture (most are in color).
U.S. "Tunnel" Mailbox 1915
Designed by postal engineer Roy Joroleman to resolve a conflict between fiercely independent farmers and government regulators. This mandated galvanized sheet metal design is simple and functional. The red flag lets the carrier know when to pick up mail. Formerly a variety of discarded containers served as mail boxes on rural routes.
Motorola MicroTAC 1989
The MicroTAC folding mechanism revolutionized the shape of cell phones
Some of the other great product icons in this book are:
Aircraft: Douglas DC-3 Dakota 1935 and Lockheed Super Constellation 1951.
Appliances: AEG Electric Kettle 1909 and Philips-Alessi Line (five kitchen appliances) 1996
Automobiles: Ford Model T 1908-1927, Bugatti 1926, Mercedes Silver Arrow 1934, Cord 810 1936, Fiat 500 Topolino 1936, Volkswagen Beetle 1938, Citroen 2CV, Chevrolet Corvette 1953 and Morris Mini 1959.
Cameras: Leica Camera 1913-1925, Kodak Baby Brownie 1934 and Minox Camera 1938.
China: Teaset 1934.
Home Entertainment: Braun Phonosuper SK4 1956, Sony Portable TV 80 301 in 1959, Brionvega Radio TS-502 in 1964, B&O Beogram 4000 in 1972, Sony Walkman 1979, Philips Compact Disc 1980, Tamagotchi (interactive computerized toy) 1996.
Typewriters: Underwood Typewriter No. 5 1900, IBM Selectric Typewriter 1961 and Olivetti Valentine Typewriter 1969.
Apple Macintosh 1984
A variety of other great products also were developed in the 20th Century - Raleigh Safety Bicycle 1905, Coca Cola Bottle 1915, Rolex Oyster Watch 1926, Zippo Lighter 1933, Parker 51 Fountain Pen 1941,Vespa Motor Scooter 1946, Tupperware 1946, Rolodex Rotary Card File 1952, Harley Davidson "Easy Rider" 1969, In-Line Skates 1980 and other interesting choices in this book. Overall "Icons of Design The 20th Century" is a nice update - with color pictures, about 30 more years of great products to our two earlier book reviews and with more of a European point of view.
In-Line Skates 1980
The 4th and 5th books we review on the greatest product designs have a very different format. The 4th book has nine categories of products. The fifth book goes more extensively (about 5 pages each) into the development of each of about 35 products.
Do you have a favorite book on industrial design prototypes, products or designers? Please let us know by posting a comment. If you have any questions or would like to discuss prototypes or other projects contact us at Model Builders, Inc. 773-586-6500 or firstname.lastname@example.org .