Streamline Moderne - Industrial Design

Industrial Design

The style was applied to appliances such as electric clocks, sewing machines, small radio receivers and vacuum cleaners. Their manufacturing processes exploited developments in materials science including aluminium and bakelite. Compared to Europe, the United States in the 1930s had a stronger focus on design as a means to increase sales of consumer products. Streamlining was associated with prosperity and an exciting future. This hope resonated with the American middle class, the major market for consumer products. A wide range of goods from refrigerators to pencil sharpeners was produced in streamlined designs.

Streamlining became a widespread design practice for automobiles, railroad cars, buses, and other vehicles in the 1930s. Notable automobile examples include the 1934 Chrysler Airflow, the 1950 Nash Ambassador "Airflyte" sedan with its distinctive low fender lines, as well as Hudson's postwar cars, such as the Commodore, that "were distinctive streamliners — ponderous, massive automobiles with a style all their own."

Streamline style can be contrasted with functionalism, which was a leading design style in Europe at the same time. One reason for the simple designs in functionalism was to lower the production costs of the items, making them affordable to the large European working class. Streamlining and functionalism represent two very different schools in modernistic industrial design, but both reflecting the intended consumer.


  • 1934 Chrysler Airflow

  • Airstream trailer

  • New York Central steam locomotive restyled by industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, 1938

  • Toaster

  • Bakelite radio

  • 1948 Hudson Commodore

  • Santa Fe Railway's San Francisco Chief, with streamlined equipment and paint scheme all dating from the late 1930s.

Read more about this topic:  Streamline Moderne

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