This collection documents Wallance's career from his enrollment in the Design Laboratory School in 1936 to his death in 1990.Included are his designs for tableware, furniture, and household accessories, as well as material on his research and writings. This collection consists of sketches, drawings, photographs, correspondence, and reference materials, in addition to publicity and promotional materials. Extensive documentation exists on Wallance's pioneering designs for stainless steel flatware for H. E. Lauffer Company and his experimental furniture for the U.S. Army, Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center, and the Hard Manufacturing Company. Thorough documentation of his research for his landmark book, "Shaping America's Products," is included. The collection also contains a substantial amount of information on the Design Laboratory School, the first industrial design school in the United States to be patterned after the Bauhaus.
This collection is arranged into eight record groups: 1) Industrial Design Projects; 2) "Shaping America's Products"; 3) Other Activities; 4) General Correspondence; 5) Business Records; 6) Biographical Material; 7) Reference Material; and 8) Photographs and Slides. Within each record group, materials are arranged by client, or in lieu of a client, by project name.
Letter size, legal size, and oversized materials, photographs, slides, film, and video are all boxed separately. Where possible, subjects have been cross referenced between the various sizes and types of material.
Metalworker, furniture and industrial designer. Born New York City, September 26, 1909. Wallance graduated New York University in 1930 with a B.A. in English Literature. He traveled to northern Europe where he was exposed to the International Style in architecture and design. Upon returning to the United States, he went to work in his father's furniture store and saw the need for more inventive designs in retail furnishings. He attended Design Laboratory School in New York City from its inception in 1936 until it closed its doors in 1940.
From 1941-2, Wallance served as the state of Louisiana's technical and design director for the National Youth Administration, established in 1940 by President Roosevelt to help build a young, technically capable work force. During World War II, Wallance designed mass-produced furniture for servicemen's families living abroad for the Office of the Quartermaster General, Washington. He began designing tableware, cutlery, and accessories for H.E. Lauffer in 1951.
Among his most recognizable designs for Lauffer were Design One, a highly sculptural, brushed stainless steel flatware created in 1953, and Design Ten, a colored plastic flatware created in 1978-79. Both designs are now produced by Towle Manufacturing Company. ln addition, Wallance designed auditorium seating in steel and upholstered polyurethane foam for Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center in 1964 and hospital furniture in steel and plastics for Hard Manufacturing Company in 1965. Wallance is best known for his book, "Shaping America's Products", 1956, which remains a seminal study of the relationship of craftsmanship to industry.
Location of Other Archival Materials Note:
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Applied Arts Department. Approximately 100 items, consisting of models, prototypes, and production pieces of flatware, cutlery, and other items.
These materials were donated to Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in 1991 by David M. and Gregory J. Wallance, sons of the designer.
Unrestricted research use onsite by appointment. Permission of staff required to photograph materials.
This collection consists ofcorrespondence, scrapbooks, catalogs, brochures, original drawings, photographs, financial records, resumes, legal documents, magazine articles, business records, press releases, artwork, and samples of boxes, bags, and buttons. Files documenting the company's history include a statement of the company's philosophy and records pertaining to the establishment of new stores in various cities. Project files document the furniture, fabrics, rugs, and accessories imported and design by Design Research, Inc. Bound reprints of articles that appeared in Interiors and International Design magazines are included. Clippings and other records documenting the design and construction of D/R stores are provided in the files pertaining to Benjamin Thompson & Associates, Inc. Also found in these files is a printed and bound presentation copy of Thompson's address, "The Craft of Design and the Art of Building", along with other articles by and about Thompson. Additional information pertaining to D/R's association with Marimekko can be found in the Cooper- Hewitt Design Archive's Marimekko Collection.
Unprocessed. Consists of six record groups: 1) Company history; 2) Office records; 3) Project files; 4) Clippings and Scrapbooks; 5) Benjamin Thompson & Associates, Inc. for D/R; and 6) Photographs.
Retail establishment and product design. Design Research, Inc. (D/R), founded in 1953 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by architect Benjamin Thompson, specialized in the latest post-war products for the modern home. The displays in the stores were considered unique in that they were designed at domestic scale and the products were shown in realistic, homelike arrangements.
Products were sought and selected based on the anticipated preferences of customers, not on traditional retail buying patterns. At the time, the availability of "good design" was limited to wholesale firms such as Herman Miller and Knoll. Thompson was the first to introduce the work of many European and Asian designers to the American retail market, including the work of the design firm of Marimekko for which D/R was the exclusive U.S. represenative. The company also created many of its own products including chairs manufactured by Thonet. D/R later opened stores in New York City, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Thompson's own architectural firm, Benjamin Thompson & Associates, Inc., designed all of the D/R stores. For the San Francisco store, Thomspon renovated the former Ghirardelli Chocolate factory. Even after the stores officially closed in 1978, D/R remained a model for many merchants.
The materials in this collection were donated to Cooper-Hewitt in 1995 by Benjamin and Jane Thompson.
Unprocessed; access is limited. Permission of Library Director required for use.
Furniture design -- United States -- History -- 20th century Search this