32¢ Streamline Design
Celebrate the Century – 1930s
Issue Date: September 10, 1998
City: Cleveland, OH
Printed By: Ashton–Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
As the 1930s progressed, Americans became preoccupied with efficiency, speed, and anything modern. Streamlining, a new style of industrial design, developed as a result of this futuristic way of thinking. Trains, airplanes, automobiles, and other objects were restyled during these years to represent America’s hopeful vision of the future.
Norman Bel Geddes is the designer credited with introducing the streamlined style, which was created by combining aerodynamics and art. Items featuring the style are contoured for minimum wind resistance or “drag.” Many designers utilized the teardrop shape for their creations, not only for the aerodynamic benefits but for the qualities of efficiency and modernity associated with streamlining.
Even objects that do not move – like typewriters, cutlery, and kitchen appliances – were streamlined. Baby carriages, vacuum cleaners, and desk staplers were also designed in the style. But streamlining was best represented by the 1934 Chrysler “Airflow” automobile, as well as steam locomotives and passenger trains of the late 1930s. In 1938, a streamlined train set the record for the fastest steam locomotive at 126 miles per hour, a record that still stands today.