Stanford exhibit explores mid-century modern design

Stanford University. Well, the designer’s
role is really to figure out how are we
going to make this product so that it functions
well and also looks good. Creativity– On the
Line is an exhibition about the design of the
20th century, especially the mid-20th century. It is about the relationship
between the designers and the managers
and corporations who hire them to
design their products and their graphic identity. And the ambivalence
that both of them feel about each other,
especially the designers who are worried that
they would be accused of selling out to commerce. On the other hand, the
managers were also afraid that they would come
up with something that would be too advanced
and too innovative, and that they therefore
would not be able to sell it. We’re looking here at
the Selectric typewriter, an electric typewriter designed
by Eliot Noyes for IBM. To me, this is the
perfect example of how designers and
engineers together can come up with a totally new product. They replaced the
keys with a ball that has all the
letters of the alphabet and all the numbers on it. And when you touch
one of the buttons, the ball starts to turn around. It can also go back
and forth very quickly. Here we have three
pages with sketches by the graphic
designer Lester Beall, in which he is trying to develop
a new logo for the company Caterpillar tractors. And you see the C and the
T that he’s playing around with all the time. You see the design
process go along here. How can we make this
logo that really is going to be recognizable
all over the world? And so here you can see
then what they then finally come up with. And it was so successful
that the company kept it until the early 2000s. These are the people that
every designer from our period now looks at and builds on, what
was done in the 1950s and ’60s and early ’70s. However, the whole
relationship of designer towards client and towards
company is very different. I think they still
would not want to be accused of
selling out to commerce, but they are no longer as
afraid of working for business. When you look at the
products, whether it’s graphic design or three
dimensional design, the designer, no matter
what, will always try to come up with the
best product possible. For more, please visit
us at


  • Julian Tagatac

    very intriguing

  • Christopher Fortin

    respectfully feel like the curator projecting some of his own sociological views into the industrial designer/corporate relationship. Of course people worry about the gap between good design and commercial appeal/viability. anyways the artefacts items themselves are facinating, especially the interplay of successive waves of modernism. Look at DEC vs IBM design language, the company of hippy engineers actually produced more minimalist designs.

  • Neil Henderson

    under 1k club lekkaaa

  • billbb


  • Audio Pervert

    mobil ? like exxon .. which is responsible for untold deaths in the oceans as well as land .. designs ok .. which is most progressive outside america ..

  • Elevyn Patricia

    Thank you, Stanford, for posting so many videos for the world to see! These are great.


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