2011 44¢ Pioneers of American Industrial Design –
Issue Date: June 29, 2011
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
A silversmith from Germany was inspired by a French ship to make one of the most famous kitchen accessories in America. Peter Müller-Munk’s (1904-67) designs, like his innovative water pitcher, gave Americans a new view of household items.
In 1935, Müller-Munk saw a poster advertising the brand-new French luxury ocean liner named Normandie. The elegant, sweeping lines of the ship inspired him to mimic the ship’s prow on a much more common object – a water pitcher. The top of the pitcher was tear-drop shaped, with water pouring from the pointed end. It was made of brass, with a gleaming chrome finish, and named after the ship.
When Müller-Munk moved to the U.S. in 1926, he first focused on handmade luxury silverware. The 1929 Stock Market Crash forced him to work in the larger market of industrial design, where his experience allowed him to apply sophisticated European styling to common, everyday objects.
Müller-Munk became director of the Carnegie Institute’s Industrial Design program in 1935. He was honored again in 1957, when he became the first president of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. Müller-Munk combined Old World artistry with modern manufacturing to create a stylish presence in American homes.