Happy Industrial Design Day! Industrial design, the practice of optimizing the function, value, and appearance of products, is a central component in America's culture of consumerism as well as the source of many beautiful objects now in the collections of leading art and history museums.
Industrial Design Day first entered into the U.S. Congressional Record in 2015, marks the anniversary of the founding of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the result of a merger of several industrial design societies on March 5, 1965. As the home to a number of significant twentieth-century collections that chronicle the evolution of the concepts, products, and processes specific to industrial design, this is one of our favorite not-a-holiday holidays, so we're preparing a little festive toast.
The images you see here are selections from a scrapbook in our collection of Marc Harrison papers (Accession 2193) that also contains advertisements, photographs, news clippings, corporate documents, and various items related to the German chemist, inventor, and designer Dr. Peter Schlumbohm (1896-1962). Schlumbohm's papers were preserved by Marc Harrison (1936-1998), who augmented them with additional clippings related to Schlumbohm, and his own photographs of Schlumbohm's products during the 1970s.
Schlumbohmis is best known for his most iconic creation: the Chemex coffeemaker. But he was a prolific creator, and eulogized as a designer whose work offered "a synthesis of logic and madness". Schlumbohmwas also a savvy and active marketer of his work, known to gift Chemex coffeemakers to U.S. presidents, celebrities, and other popular tastemakers. The coffeemaker, as well as other designs launched under the Chemex Corporation and Mixarium Companyumbrellas, like the Fahrenheitorline of cocktail party accouterments, were also prominently featured in contemporary advertisements, trade shows, and international expositions. The above photograph shows a Chemex coffeemaker, Farenheitor Decanter, Farenheitor Bottle Cooler, and what is probably a Farenheitor Glass Kettle. The Farenheitor Cocktail Shaker, Tubadipdrip, Cocktail Freezer, Metal Kettle, and Cinderella Garbage Pail, five other popular designs, are not pictured. Below, you can see a selection of mushroom trays designed to partner with various Farenheitor products.
Other products documented by this collection include the Chemobile, a radically simplified boxy compact car that was the antithesis of the low-slung, voluptuous American cars of the period, the "Pre-vue" color-correcting mirror, a German water pump, and mobile refrigeration units. There is also material dealing with Schlumbohm's work with dry ice, correspondence relating to Schlumbohm's patents, and candid photos of Schlumbohm and his friends. To view a selection of material related to products designed by Peter Schlumbohmin Hagley Library's Digital Archive, just click here.