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. It has influenced the public sphere as well as the private economy, doing much to change the look and feel of the human-built world.
The first generation of industrial designers, working in the 1920s, upgraded the visual attractiveness of mass-produced merchandise with the intention of stimulating consumption. In the following decades, industrial design became a professional field that penetrated all aspects of modern material life. The purview of industrial designers expanded from products, packaging, and advertising to corporate logos and trademarks.
Hagley’s collections document many aspects of industrial design. The papers of influential designers and firms like Raymond Loewy (1893-1986), Marshall B. Johnson (1938-), Thomas Lamb (1896-1988), Richard Hollerith (1926- ), Marc Harrison (1936-1998), Fred M.B. Amram and Sandra A. Brick, the Inter-Society Color Council, and others form a principal resource.
So do the business records of major American corporations and corollary materials in our pictorial holdings and digital collections like this one, which provides access to the publications issued by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the professional organization of the industrial design community in the United States; Innovation (1982-present), Design Journal (1972-1973), and Journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America (1968-1972).
So we definitely wouldn’t want to miss noting that today is World Industrial Design Day, an international day of observance celebrated throughout the world in recognition of the establishment of the World Design Organization, founded on this day, June 29th, in 1957.
We're celebrating this year with "Designed for Living", a 1955 film created by the National Industrial Design Council of Canada to introduce the public to their work. The film opens with a married couple picking new household goods while the narrator explains industrial design and the process of designing new products.
It also describes how the Industrial Design Council of Canada works with businesses to influence new designs as well as its' process for receiving common consumer complaints about household goods and then disseminating those complaints to designers. The film concludes with how governments influence design in other countries.
This item is part of Hagley Library's Sponsored and industrial motion picture film collection (Accession 2018.222), an artificial collection compiled by curators that includes single motion picture films or small sets of films acquired via purchase or donation. To view this video online in full in our Digital Archive, along with other materials from this collection, just click here.