SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2008

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Looking & Learning Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1904, Dreyfuss studied fine art on a scholarship to the New York Society for Ethical Culture's high school. In school, he learned the rudiments of staging theatrical productions, as well as dedication to and concern for the welfare of others. The school instilled strong social ideals, and emphasized the importance of individual responsibility and group cooperation, ideals which would later inform Dreyfuss's design practice, both as a businessman and a designer. He worked as an apprentice to Norman Bel Geddes, a genius of stage and industrial design. In 1927, Dreyfuss set out on his own, and within a few years was recognized as a bright young talent in stage design. As a stage designer, Dreyfuss had the opportunity to design not just sets, but full interiors and accoutrements, experiences that would prove valuable when he was asked to design corporate identities and products for companies such as Honeywell. Referring to himself as an industrial designer, Dreyfuss opened an office in New York in 1928, and soon distinguished himself as a designer for mass production. By favoring practicality and streamlined styling, he gained the respect of his clients. In the 1950s, he brought the use of anthro- About the T86Round In the 1930s, Honeywell's marketing team and management decided that it needed a more sophisticated approach to distinguish it from its competitors, and the company's president began discussions with Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss modernized the appearance of Honeywell's thermostats in the 1930s; among the first was the Chronotherm, which incorporated a "digital" clock into its display. Dreyfuss was frustrated, however, that rectangular thermostats never seemed to hang squarely on the wall. Work began on a round thermostat in 1940. Placing all the elements in a circular form was more difficult than it first seemed; pometrics (the study of human dimensions and capabilities) into his practice, paving the way for others. He saw his product designs not as singular objects, but as parts that related to the whole of the company, hence for Honeywell, he designed not only the thermometer covers, or the now famous Honeywell logo, but also the heating system that went with it. Dreyfuss's success as a designer lies not just in his experience or in his conceptualization of the whole, but in his consideration of the user. He is famously quoted as saying, "if there is tension between the user and the object, the designer has failed." —Henry Dreyfuss "If there is tension between the user and the object, the designer has failed." thermostat: T86 Round, Designed by Henry Dreyfuss About the Designer Henry Dreyfuss (1904–1972) was one of America's best-known and most influential industrial designers, developing now ever-present and iconic products for companies such as Bell Laboratories (the Princess phone), Hoover (vacuums), John Deere (tractors), and Honeywell, Inc. He had a profound impact on the daily lives of millions of Americans. Through industrial design, the process we use to shape environments, transportation, products, and packaging, he raised the standards of American industry. A constant focus on the needs of the average consumer characterized his work.

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