Published: March 15, 2011
The Philbrook Museum of Art is hosting “American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow” at its main location, 2727 South Rockford Road. On view through May 14, the exhibit focuses on a design era that emerged during the 1930s and 1940s characterized by curving forms and smooth, clean silhouettes.
The style, which suggested speed and glamour, entered American design in the post-Depression years. It was widely applied in new forms of architecture, interior decoration and everyday household goods for the home and office.
This was the era when President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of the promise of the New Deal. In the depth of the Depression, glossy streamlined products were identified with progress and economic recovery. This scientific-looking, progressive style suggested the hope of the future. “The World of Tomorrow” was the name fittingly given to the 1939 New York World’s Fair, a fair that emphasized visions of a sophisticated, scientific world to come.
“American Streamlined Design” presents the work of such leaders in consumer and industrial design as Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes, Henry Dreyfuss and Walter Dorwin Teague, as well as less well-known talents, including Egmont Arens and Robert Heller.
More than 185 objects in diverse new materials, from Bakelite to stainless steel, are organized thematically around the spheres of American life in the 1930s‵0s: the office and workroom, the living room, kitchen and bath, recreation and transportation. A final section, Streamlining Now, looks at how streamlining still affects design today.
With the recent acquisition of the George R. Kravis industrial design collection, its strategic partnership with the Vitra Design Museum (Weil am Rhein, Germany) and the announcement of the Philbrook’s forthcoming satellite location for modern and contemporary art and design in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, the museum has become a major destination for the appreciation and curatorship of Twentieth Century design.
For more information, 918-749-7941 or www.philbrook.org .
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