Graphic containing a Sikorsky S-42 flying boat and a 1937 Pan American Airways schedule — not original Pan Am graphics but a reproduction using Typetanic’s new font, Transat Text. In this setting Transat Text shows not only its early modernist flair but also its usefulness and legibility, both as a text and a display font.
The only ship on the Atlantic to rival Normandie for luxury, this ship attracted the elite patrons coveted by shipping lines. Her only drawback was that she sailed from Canadian ports in a time when most people preferred traveling from New York.
"The…great ship to enter the Atlantic arena, in 1931, was the Empress of Britain, the new flagship of the Canadian Pacific Line. Famed for her lavish and spacious interiors, this ship helped to encourage a wider enthusiasm for the modern style, particularly as she also had a pioneering role as a cruise ship during the winter season." - “Travel, Transport and Art Deco”, Art Deco 1910-1939, Paul Atterbury
Germany became the nation of airships during the Art Deco era, but their toxic political climate and the disaster that destroyed the Hindenburg combined to spell the end of this era. And despite an attempt by ocean liners to remain relevant (which lasted into the 1960s), in the post Art Deco era, planes triumphed as the only lucrative way to bring large numbers of people across great distances. Airplanes remain one of the greatest innovations of the era, but airships remain as one of the most nostalgic symbols of travel during the 1930s.
"During the 1930s the spread of airlines began to make inroads into areas of transport previously dominated by rail. This was particularly notable in North America, and on shorter routes in Europe, as aircraft became faster, more reliable and larger. In the early 1920s most airliners were still derived from military types but by the end of the decade a new generation of large multi-engined biplanes were in service around the world….In the 1930s a new series of sleeker, faster monoplane airliners appeared, offering infinitely improved services. However, their capacity was still limited, usually under 30 passengers. Typical were the American Douglas series, the DC1, DC2 and the ubiquitous DC3, used by airlines all over the world in the late 1930s." - “Travel, Transport and Art Deco”, Art Deco 1910-1939, Paul Atterbury
"The streamlined train was also a phenomenon of the Art Deco period. Here, speed was clearly an issue, but far more important was the image that streamlining represented. During the 1930s…streamlined trains went into service in practically every county in the world….However, the speeds achieved by these trains were, in general, not significantly increased, and it was quickly appreciated by engineers that it was good track-work rather than streamlining that enabled trains to travel faster." - “Travel, Transport and Art Deco”, Art Deco 1910-1939, Paul Atterbury
Speed and machines, while admired by the industrial United States, were not only inspirational to Americans. In Europe, too, machines were making designers take notice. Airplanes, airships, trains and automobiles became smoother and more aerodynamic. Gears and machine parts made appearances even in jewelry. Ocean liners vied for the Blue Riband in Atlantic crossings. Speed was admired in all forms of production and transportation.
"As American designers adapted the luxurious motifs of Paris 1925 for a middle-class market, they retained Art Deco’s central emphasis on decorative effects. However, economic constraints forced them to do more with less, to stylize mercilessly, to suggest rather than to execute, and finally to rely on innovated surface effects achieved with such new materials as aluminum, stainless steel, chrome plating and synthetic plastics, all of which depended on new technologies. The inherent tension between material and form is illustrated by a desk lamp designed by Teague in 1939 for the Polaroid Corporation.
Composed of three simple parts, the lamp possessed a small rounded base of matte black Bakelite, out of which rises a widening conical pillar of brushed aluminum supporting a flared Bakelite hood. If it were not for the hood’s attenuated reference to the teardrop motif and the aluminum cone’s dramatic angle, the lamp’s simple forms would evoke the timeless purity that Le Corbusier sought in modern engineering…[but] anyone who seeks to explain the lamp’s considerable aesthetic presence must recognized the decorative impact of contrasting silver and black materials in a composition that ultimately refers back not to Le Corbusier but to the 1925 Exhibition.” - “New Materials and Technologies”, Art Deco 1910-1939, Jeffrey L. Meikle
"Teague was among the first industrial designers in America and practiced as a freelance consultant. In 1932 Corning Glass gave Teague a one-year contract to prop up its diminishing returns. Teague produced a modern line of crystal tableware and shaped a new corporate image through a promotional campaign.
His 1940 book, ‘Design This Day: The Technique of Order in the Machine Age’ espoused a ‘fundamental redesign of our world’ in a modern functionalist manner that was influenced especially by Le Corbusier’s emphasis on classic geometry and by the architecture of Walter Gropius and Robert Mallet-Stevens, which he had seen in Europe in 1926.” - American Modern, J. Stewart Johnson
The Beau Brownie range was available from 1930 to 1933.
They differed little from the popular Brownie cameras, the only technical difference being the introduction of a new doublet lens, allowing the same picture to be projected on a film plate over a shorter distance, making the Beau Brownies nearly 2” shorter than their conventional counterparts.
Visually, they had a different enameled two-tone front plate in a geometric Art Deco design, the work of American designer Walter Dorwin Teague.
Geometry, clean lines, smooth surfaces, and bright materials attracted American designers. Art Deco in the United States quickly transitioned to simplicity and Streamline shapes. The aerodynamics of modern machines seemed a good choice for household objects.
"Schoen championed the use of innovative modern materials such as Fabrikoid, Flexwood, and Monel metal in both furniture and interiors and advocated a pale, monochromatic color scheme and indirect lighting in his interiors." - American Modern, J. Stewart Johnson