Between 1925 and 1959 America experienced two World Wars that changed the way we live. Some of the various types of new design influenced our government while others challenged our collective conventions. Below are seven examples of design pioneering during this time.

Charles Brannock

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1925-Using an erector set Charles Brannock built a prototype of the Brannock device. This device is common to American shoe stores today as well as the industry standard, but prior to this invention they used a block of wood to measure the foot which resulted in inaccurate measurement. When the army found out about the insured measurement accuracy they hired Brannock to fit enlisted men with boots for WWII. This venture afforded him expansion of the company. He was urged to make his product out of plastic so it could be replaced every few months driving up monetary return but Brannock prized quality, durability, and longevity insisting his product be made of durable steel. Most stores replace the device after at least 15 years usage due to wear and tear on the printed numbers.

Monitor Top Refrigerator

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1927- The Monitor Top refrigerator by GE was designed by engineer Christian Steenstrup and sold to the public for $525 dollars. The first all steel refrigerator had a single door with an exposed compressor at the top, hence the name Monitor Top. As the most successful of the GE products at the time they established themselves as industry leaders. The refrigerator enabled the housewife to buy more food and store it longer.


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1933-When the US entered WWII nothing escaped rationing. The conservative standards of beach attire for women was drastically altered. The government ordered that the amount cloth that made women’s bathing suits be cut 10 percent. This resulted in bare midriff sections and bared thighs. However, the police still regulated beaches until the Bikini became common place in 50’s.

Torpedo Airstream Trailer

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1935-The Torpedo Airstream trailer came as a partially completed trailer with plans or a kit. Wally Byam founder of the Airstream Trailer Company introduced this model to the public and sold plans for 5 dollars. Its unusual shape mimics that of a torpedo giving it a streamline appearance. The travel trailer established a community of sight seekers opening up the roads of America which generated commerce via camping parks, gas stations, and road side eateries.

Willys Quad

1945-Willys Quad is the first commercially sold jeep and the descendant of the military’s Bantam jeep. American Bantam originally designed the jeep for usage in the WWII and named the prototype BRC, Bantam Reconnaissance Car. They were compact cars that had the power of a tank and had the agility to make it thru the roughest of terrain. However, Bantam suffered many financial set backs and Willys-Overland eventually won the military contract and was able to copyright the name Jeep as well as produce versions for public consumption.

Collector Car Corner - Jeep, American Bantam and Willys-Overland

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Mid-Century Modern

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1950-Cara Greenberg coined the term in her book Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s to describe design, architecture, furniture and accessories who’s popularity grew after World War II. Products that were designed using the knowledge of technology from the innovations made during the war, in combination with global and local art movements created futuristic home design that mimic organic elements in nature. Known for simplistic natural shapes Frank Lloyd Wright was a leader making some of the most recognizable examples of Mid-century Modern. 

TP 1 Portable Record Player and Transistor Radio

1959-A combined portable record player and transition is representation of the freedom experienced post WWII. Designed by Dieter Rams for Braun it played the records on the underside of the mechanism and only could play 7 inch wide singles at 45 rpm. It’s compact size made listening to records portable which fit into the emerging pop culture lifestyle. Rams motivation for designing this was that he wanted to learn english and he wanted t o do so while he traveled. This is the precursor to the walkman and IPads we know today.

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