This summer, the USPS released its Pioneers of American Industrial Design commemorative stamps. The set celebrates American designers who have made a lasting impact on the look of the world we inhabit.
That look, straight from the middle of the 20th Century, is seeping back into vogue now. Midcentury is all over television, with shows like “Mad Men” and “The Hours,” as well as the upcoming “Pan Am” and “The Playboy Club.” Couches are getting lower and ties are getting narrower. So it shouldn’t be surprising that a series of stamps featuring iconic products from that era is being released now.
In an interesting turn of events, the stamps were designed under the art direction of Derry Noyes, son of Eliot Noyes, who designed the IBM Selectric typewriter pictured in one of the stamps.
But it’s Raymond Leowy who is my personal favorite of the designers honored by the series. Leowy’s streamlined pencil sharpener depicted in the stamps may not be the most compelling object in the collection, but this is the guy who designed the Coca-Cola bottle, the Lucky Strike pack, and the Studebaker Avanti.
And yet, there are so many other industrial designers from the era who didn’t make the cut that I can’t help but hope that the series is expanded in the future. I’d love to see one of Ray Kappe’s prefab housing designs or an Eames Lounge Chair on a stamp too.
So much of what we have today is manufactured. Industrial design has really become the only kind of design with which most of us are familiar. The Pioneers of American Industrial Design collection is a peek into the field’s past innovations, as well as an invitation to learn more about them.
Raymond Loewy licensed by CMG Worldwide, Indianapolis, Indiana.
KODAK and its trademarks owned by Kodak.
IBM and its trademarks licensed by IBM Corp.
Russel Wright® Russel Wright Studios LLC.
Fiesta® Dinnerware is a trademark owned by The Homer Laughlin China Company.