Norman Bel Geddes

6 Nov
All the talk yesterday of Raymond Loewy,reminded me that during the same timeline Norman Bel Geddes was as large, if not larger than Loewy.
A street intersection in the City of the Future; detail of the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair
Spectators flew above a model of  “Democracity” the world of 1960
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Bel Geddes began his career with set designs for Aline Barnsdall’s Los Angeles Little Theater in the 1916-17 season, then in 1918 as the scene designer for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He designed and directed various theatrical works,[3] from Arabesque and The Five O’Clock Girl on Broadway to an ice show, It Happened on Ice, produced by Sonja He also created set designs for the film Feet of Clay (1924), directed by Cecil B. DeMille, designed costumes for Max Reinhard and created the sets for the Broadway production of Sidney Kingsley’s Dead End (1935).
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Set and Costume Design, a talented guy.
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I might add that he also had among his clients department stores, He did window display as well.
A design for an seaplane that was a flying ocean liner, complete with a games deck.

The ocean liner he envisioned has in many ways become a reality.

Bel Geddes opened an industrial-design studio in 1927, and designed a wide range of commercial products, from cocktail shakers to commemorative medallions to radio cabinets. His designs extended to unrealized futuristic concepts: a teardrop-shaped automobile, and an Art Deco House of Tomorrow. In 1929, he designed “Airliner Number 4,” a 9-deck amphibian airliner that incorporated areas for deck-games, an orchestra, a gymnasium, a solarium, and two airplane hangars.

His book, Horizons (1932) had a significant impact: “By popularizing streamlining when only a few engineers were considering its functional use, he made possible the design style of the thirties.” He wrote forward-looking articles for popular American periodicals.

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Bel Geddes designed the General Motors Pavilion, known as Futurama, for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. For that famous and enormously influential installation, Bel Geddes exploited his earlier work in the same vein: he had designed a “Metropolis City of 1960” in 1936.

Bel Geddes’s book Magic Motorways (1940) promoted advances in highway design and transportation, foreshadowing the Interstate Highway System (“there should be no more reason for a motorist who is passing through a city to slow down than there is for an airplane which is passing over it”). His autobiography, Miracle in the Evening, was published posthumously in 1960.

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Model of teardrop-shaped automobile designed by Bel Geddes

The case for the Mark I computer was designed by Norman Bel Geddes. IBM’s Thomas Watson presented it to Harvard. At the time, some saw it as a waste of resources, since computing power was in high demand during this part of World War II and those funds could have been used to build additional equipment. The United States Postal Service celebrated the First-Day-Of-Issue for a commemorative U.S. postage stamp honoring Bel Geddes as a “Pioneer Of American Industrial Design” on June 29, 2011 at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in NYC.

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He Saw the Future
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