Published: February 5, 2008
(AP) †Viktor Schreckengost, an artist and prolific industrial designer whose works ranged from toys and ceramics to dinnerware and trucks, died January 26 while visiting family in Tallahassee, Fla., the spokeswoman for his foundation said. He was 101.
Schreckengost, a 2006 winner of the National Medal of Arts, was best known for his 1930s “Jazz Bowl” series, commissioned by Eleanor Roosevelt for the White House. The electric blue and black porcelain bowls, inspired by the sights and sounds of New York City, became icons of the Art Deco era.
Schreckengost incorporated fine design into mass-produced goods in an effort to make aesthetically pleasing, functional items available to all Americans. His industrial designs include millions of bicycles sold by Sears, iconic children’s pedal wagons, lawn chairs, sit-down lawn mowers and American Limoges dinnerware.
“It’s function. That’s what I was always attracted to,” Schreckengost told The Associated Press in a 2006 interview. “You get to the basic form first and then the color and texture and all the other stuff added to it so it becomes very complicated, even though it appears simple.”
Schreckengost was born in 1906 in Sebring, a commercial pottery town near Youngstown. He studied ceramics at the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna. He returned to the Cleveland Institute of Art as a teacher in the early 1930s and established the first industrial design department in the United States there.
Schreckengost’s innovations spanned several industries. He helped design the first cab-over-engine truck in 1932 for the White Motor Company, which increased hauling capacity. He served as lead designer for bicycles and toy pedal cars for the Murray Ohio Co. from 1938 to 1972 and designed printing presses for the Harris-Seybold and Chandler Harris companies.
During World War II, Schreckengost joined the US Navy, where he was recruited to develop a system for radar recognition, which won him a commendation from the Secretary of the Navy.
Schreckengost will be buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland under a headstone he designed himself, said Brenda Jackson of the Viktor Schreckengost Foundation. Further funeral details were not unavailable.
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