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2016-5-11
A Landmark Design with an Aluminum Shine: John Vassos’s RCA Victor Special Phonograph
This sleek icon of American design embodies the simultaneous rise of listening technology and the streamline moderne style in the 1930s. This portable phonograph’s mechanism was engineered by Alfred Weiland and Selden T. Williams while its case and overall aesthetic were conceived by the prolific graphic and industrial designer John Vassos. Born in Romania, Vassos...
1978-146-469-a,b
Cartier Deco Matchsafe
The development of friction matches in the early nineteenth century was a major discovery as it allowed for instantaneous and reliable fire on demand for the first time in history. The design of matchsafes arose as the early friction matches were both highly combustible and unstable. These decorative boxes allowed bulk matches to be protected...
2014-25-4-a,b
A Camera Worth A Thousand Words: Eastman Kodak’s Baby Brownie and the Rise of Popular Photography
When the Eastman Kodak Company first began manufacturing its line of Brownie cameras in 1900, photography was still the domain of trained operators who charged considerable fees for formal portraits and commemorative images of formal occasions. Within the next ten years, however, snapshots became increasingly popular in American culture: holidays, birthdays, and even the everyday...
1982-23-54
A Match For You At Any Time
Matchsafes came into being when wooden friction matches were invented in the middle of the nineteenth century, and were widely used until the 1930s, when safety matches, matchbooks, and gas-powered lighters became more popular. Early friction matches were somewhat unreliable, highly combustible and could light spontaneously in a pocket. In order to protect them from moisture and...
2000-63-2-a,b
Think Different
“When was the last time someone offered to carry your book to school?” This question was posed by Apple in a 1999 advertisement to introduce the iBook, the company’s new peppy line of laptop computers geared towards entry level, consumer, and education markets. The advertisement pictured the user’s hand wrapped around a turquoise carrying handle...
Rectangular black screen in tapering red plastic housing pierced with rows of speaker holes on four sides; row of control buttons at front top; hole in rear to accomodate power cord.
TV Beyond the Twentieth Century Living Room
Bulky and cumbersome CRT (cathode ray tube) televisions that occupied a place of pride in living rooms since the 1950s have quickly fallen out of favor in the twenty-first century as LCD (liquid crystal display) televisions boast sleek flat shapes and a clearer picture. One aspect of CRT televisions that brought them to be classified as...
Cylindrical, fluted metal body, horizontal ridges at top; tapering, flat-topped, cylindrical metal cup inverted over bottle mouth to serve as cap; cap unscrews and lifts off to reveal small cylindrical rubber stopper, with circular metal top and hinged toggle latch, set snugly into circular mouth of interior glass vacuum bottle.
One for the Road
Near the end of the nineteenth century, Scottish scientist Sir James Dewar developed glass vacuum bottle technology for his work with liquid gases. The bottle had a function applicable to daily life as well–keeping beverages fresh, meeting a basic need as more people joined the work force, taking meals to their jobs.  More people were...
Red leather holder with stamped gold decorations for five implements, holder fits into silver cup.
Have Spoon, Will Travel
Sumptuously crafted by the Paris silversmith Gavet, this cutlery set was a luxury object intended for stylish travelers in the early nineteenth century. Cleverly designed with nesting parts, the set includes everything an affluent city dweller could need to dine outdoors, including a fork and spoon with detachable ebony handles inlaid with silver, a folding steel...
477
Designing Media – Paul Saffo
This is the third in a series of posts about my new book, Designing Media Paul Saffo, July 2008 I put the interview with Paul Saffo at the beginning of the book because he gives such an erudite overview of the changes in media and the challenges faced by the people involved its creation and...