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Design, craft, and American identity : Russel Wright's "American-Way" project, 1940-2 / presented by Dianne O. Pierce

Catalog Data

Pierce, Dianne O  Search this
Wright, Russel 1904-1976  Search this
Physical description:
iii, 118 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm
Electronic resources
United States
20th century
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree master of arts in the history of the decorative arts and design. MA program in the history of the decorative arts and design Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution and Parsons the New School for Design.
"In 1939, in the significant moment just before the involvement of the United States in World War II, influential and successful industrial designer Russel Wright conceived a project intended to engage fellow designers, craftspeople, manufacturers, and key department stores in a mission to secure the pre-eminence of American design for a national audience. The "American-Way" project, as Wright called it, brought together craft and industry in the design of objects for middle-class Americans' homes. It was an ambitious marketing scheme, but far more than that, the American-Way project was a philosophy of American-ness in design when the country was struggling to define itself in all arenas. Almost forty designers, including Gilbert Rohde, Marianne Strengell, Raymond Loewy, and Wright himself, as well as some thirty-six prominent craftspeople, joined to take American design into every aspect of the domestic interior. The venture brought issues of meaning and moral intent such as Modernism's implications for everyday Americans, the primacy of native design, and the necessity of "good" design for all, to the American consumer. Further, American-Way sought to combine the machine and the hand in an effort to coalesce these two polarities of the industrialized world. This paper examines the ideas and objects of the American-Way project for what they express about America's mid-century cultural and design contexts. Situating the project within the career and ideological framework of Russel Wright, the paper examines the structure and intent of the American-Way program, analyzes a representative sample of its designs, and details its outcomes. Building on previous scholarship on Russel Wright's prolific industrial design career, this paper examines the American-Way project as a tangible expression of Wright's ideas about native American design, American mid-century lifestyle, and good design for all of the buying public. It further places the American-Way project at the center of significant movements in design in the pre-World War II period."
Design  Search this
Decorative arts--History  Search this
Decoration and ornament  Search this
Designers  Search this
Call number:
NK1412.W75 P54 2010
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries