Today’s post is about someone you just must familiarize yourself with if you have any interest in the world of design. I unearthed an article about him while rifling through my “must write about this!” stack of papers near my desk. I can’t help tearing out information from trade magazines and other journals…you must be compulsive if you are a blogger. The best part of this exercise is that I am always pleasantly surprised by the re-discovery of some fabulous item/person/artist/ place/ etc. that I want to share with you.
So who is my great discovery today? Well, I am about to tell you about a very talented and prolific artist/ industrial designer named Victor Schreckengost. Okay, I admit, I don’t know every artist and every designer in the world but the productivity and the extent of Schreckengost is so vast I really do not how he slipped under my dezign-radar.
Schreckengost designed so many different common place items, items you will instantly recognize in the pictures on this page, that it is hard to wrap your brain around his creative genius in the genre of industrial design and the fine arts.
THINK: lighting, dinnerware, trucks, electric fans, printing presses, kitchen appliances, coffins, trophies, lawn mowers, flashlights and furniture. Add to it a vast array of toys, such as pedal cars, bicycles, wagons and sleds. Add to that developing products for the military such as radar detection devices a topographical maps and prosthetic devices for soldiers injured in battle. And, trust me, I haven’t listed all of the products he designed and developed.
Have you caught your breath?
Schreckengost studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art and created the school of industrial design there. Teaching there for almost 70 years, he influenced many of the future top product designers in the United States, some who then went on to create products for Fisher-Price Toys, the Ford Motor Company, Nottingham Spirk ( inventors of the popular Dirt Devil Vacuum) and many more.
Okay, now add to all of the above his fine art skills, which included watercolors, sculptures, decorative ceramics, and works of public art and military cartoons and you can easily realize why he was called “The American da Vinci.” He is renowned for the design of an iconic ceramic bowl done in a unique cobalt blue finish, known as the “Jazz Bowl,” which was requisitioned by Eleanor Roosevelt, and also a part of his famous Jazz Bowl series done in the art deco style during the 1930’s.
Schreckengost was the master of integrating practicality with design and was commissioned by a wide range of companies to create products from scratch for them. He single handedly made the Murray Ohio Company into one of the most successful companies in America with his streamlining of the the design of bicycles and toy pedal cars. This work segued him into the development of flashlights for Delta Electric and other types of lighting for General Electric. After the Second World War he significantly changed the printing industry with his unique designs for printing presses for the Harris-Seybold Company. And, the list goes on and on and on…
Shreckengost received the highest award our country bestows on designers and artists, being awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2006. His work can be discovered in museums around the country and his lists of awards is endless.
Imagine living a life that has in one way or another affected the lives of so many others as a result of your talent and creativity and resulted in billions of dollars of your products being produced for innumerable industries. To me, that thought is really mind boggling!
Ciao, ciao ’til next time!