Stephen Burrows: When Fashion Danced
Stephen Burrows was one of the hottest young fashion designers of New York City’s disco and music scenes in the 1970s. His creations captured the spotlight with innovative use of bright wild colors and silky flowing fabrics. Burrows’ celebrity clients include Barbra Streisand, Cher, Liza Minnelli and Dianna Ross among many others.
In the 1980s, Burrows career took a downturn, but “after twenty years of obscurity, he made one of the biggest comebacks in fashion history”1.
More on Stephen Burrows.
Stephen Burrows, Two Gowns (1973). Photo credit: Charles Tracy
- New York Magazine, (2013). Stephen Burrows. New York Magazine Online, Fashion. http://nymag.com/fashion/fashionshows/designers/bios/stephenburrows/
Silly Saturday: Wacky Niagara Falls Concept Car
Illustrator Bruce McCall, whose works appear regularly in The New Yorker, has created a concept car inspired both by innovative designer Brooks Stevens and one of the great natural wonders of the world — Niagara Falls!
Bruce McCall, Niagara Automobile, (Date unknown).
Update: Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital
Design and Desire in the Twentieth Century has been following the fate of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital in Chicago, IL since last fall.
Amid the latest in a series of temporary reprieves, Bertrand Goldberg’s former Prentice Women’s Hospital was again denied landmark status by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.
Despite once again turning out a crowd of supporters who contributed hours of impassioned testimony, many preservationists were unsurprised by an outcome that they chalked up to political determinism.
The commission Thursday reprised, in a way, a vote taken in November, in which they recognized the litany of evidence qualifying Prentice as an architectural landmark, voted to grant the building landmark status, and subsequently revoked their own decision in a second, almost unanimous vote.
Cross sectional drawings from Northwestern University, A New Use for a Modern Landmark: A Reuse Study for the Former Prentice Women’s Hospital, (2011).
Brooks Stevens: The Designer Who Made Milwaukee Famous Part 3
Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based designer Brooks Stevens developed a range of designs for products such as automobiles, engines, household appliances, farm equipment and even railroad cars. He is perhaps most recognized for his dramatic redesign of the iconic Oscar Meyer Weinermobile in 1958.
Brooks Stevens’ Architectural Projects
Brooks Stevens’ background in architecture enabled his firm to also bid on architectural projects. When Miller Brewing Company began a massive renovation/rebuilding project of their physical plant in 1950, Stevens consulted on design for factory and offices spaces. His most important contributions to the project were the façade and interiors of the Miller administration building4.
Brooks Stevens not only designed automobiles, but also the showrooms that displayed cars to their best advantage. Along with automobile showrooms, Stevens’ other architectural and interior design projects included “theaters, bowling lanes, office buildings, [and] motel concepts”1.
Brooks Stevens, Miller Brewing Company Administration Building Façade (circa 1953). Image Credit: Brooks Stevens Archives, Milwaukee Museum of Art
Stevens’ most ambitious but unrealized architectural concept was the 1964 Satellite Towers Hotel Complex for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If built, the complex would have become the country’s first convention hall combined with hotel spaces1. Stevens had hoped that Satellite Towers “would do for Milwaukee what the Eiffel Tower had done for Paris”4. Sadly, Satellite Towers met the same fate as many other brilliant public projects — it became mired in government bureaucracy and died1.
Brooks Stevens, Satellite Towers Hotel Complex for Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1964). Image Credit: Brooks Stevens Archives, Milwaukee Museum of Art
Retrospectives & Awards for the Designer
During his prestigious career Brooks Stevens earned many professional honors. In 1950, the Milwaukee Art Museum mounted an exhibition of his work, the first museum retrospective for an industrial designer. Stevens founded “Brooks Stevens Design Research Center, an educational resource for people interested in learning more about industrial design”2. In 1954 the designer became one of the ten charter members of Industrial Designers Society of America.3 He received the ISDA award in 1965 for “the distinguished advancement of the industrial design profession”1.
In 1983 the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design created the Brooks Stevens Chair of Industrial Design, and two years later Stevens was presented with the first Honorary Doctorate for Industrial Design from that institution1.
Brooks Stevens died of heart failure in 1995, the last surviving of the ten founding members of the Industrial Designers Society of America4. During his career Stevens consulted with over 300 clients from the United States, Europe, Central and South America. His design legacy includes products that range from washing machines to locomotive cars. In 1997 the Milwaukee Museum of Art acquired the Brooks Stevens archive; many items in the archive can be viewed online.
Brooks Stevens’ Design Legacy Today
The industrial design firm that Brooks Stevens established nearly eighty years ago is still in operation, located in Wisconsin (with a second office in Minneapolis) and continues to develop cutting-edge designs today. In 1978, after three years of working as an industrial designer for Raymond Loewy in New York City, Brooks Stevens’ son Kipp joined his father’s firm. “In April 1979 Kipp Stevens was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer”1 of Brooks Stevens Design Associates.
In 2007, Sevens’ firm was purchased by Ingenium Product Development and renamed BSI Product Development. While Kipp Stevens no longer runs the firm’s the day-to day management, he continues to serve as BSI Product Development’s chairman5.
BSI’s current clients include General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Briggs and Stratton, Herman Miller, Siemens and Newell Rubbermaid, among many others. The firm continues to count Miller Brewing Company among its most esteemed clients6.
- Brooks Stevens History, (n.d.). Brooks Stevens Biography. PDF file downloaded from http://www.brooksstevenshistory.com/brooks_bio.pdf
- Milwaukee Art Museum, (2013). Brooks Stevens FAQ. http://www.mam.org/collection/archives/brooks/faq.php
- Wisconsin Historical Society, (2013). Brooks Stevens. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/topics/stevens/
- Adamson, G., (2003). Industrial Strength Design: How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World. Milwaukee Art Museum, The MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, (28 September, 2007). Design evolves: Younger firm buying iconic Brooks Stevens. [JSOnline Web site] http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/29467154.html
- BSI Product Development, (2013). Clients. http://www.bsiproductdevelopment.com/clients/
Brooks Stevens: The Designer Who Made Milwaukee Famous Part 2
This post is second in a series on mid-century industrial designer, Brooks Stevens. Read Part One.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin based designer Brooks Stevens is perhaps most recognized for his dramatic redesign of the iconic Oscar Meyer Weinermobile in 1958. During the designer’s career Stevens developed a range of designs for products such as automobiles, engines, household appliances, farm equipment and even railroad cars.
Automobiles, Boats and Trains
Brooks Stevens, Willys Jeep FC-150 Minivan (1956).
Stevens’ extensive portfolio of automobile designs could be the topic of its own blog post. His most notable designs were done for Willys-Overland: Jeep Station Wagon (1946) and Jeepster (1948).4 Stevens also designed cars for General Motors, Chrysler, American Motors Company and Studebaker.1,4
For the most part, Stevens would design the body of the car. “The engine and chassis were [usually] created by the client’s own engineers”2. In the case of custom automobile work, “such as the Scimitar, the Gaylord, and the Valkyrie,”2 Stevens assisted in design of the engines and chassis.
After Steven’s major automotive client, Studebaker, folded in the early 1960s, Stevens established his own car company which would produce a roadster “based on the Mercedes SSK of the 1927-1929 period”4. Sevens called upon his twenty-year-old son, Steve, and two young friends to construct the prototype. Brooks referred to the custom car as a “Mercebaker” (a hybrid of Mercedes and Studebaker), but it eventually became known as Excalibur. During the 1960s and into the early 1970s other companies built “replica” autos based on cars of the 1920s, yet none were as well known or desirable as Excalibur. Among Stevens’ clients for the car were Hollywood celebrities Tony Curtis, Dick Van Dyke, Dean Martin and Steve McQueen.4
Brooks Stevens, Studebaker SS, early prototype for the Excalibur (1964).
A Stylish Redesign for the Water
In 1946 Stevens applied the “streamlined” look to the Globe Corporation’s Mastercraft Runabout motor boat4. Outboard Marine and Manufacturing Company (OMC) was another of Stevens’ major clients; its Chairman Ralph Evinrude and Stevens were close lifelong friends.2 Not only did Stevens’ firm develop the design of many of OMC’s outboard boat motors, they were also involved in the design of all OMC’s product lines, including Johnson and Evinrude snowmobiles and Lawn Boy garden mowers.1 In addition to Stevens’ work for OMC,“ the Chris Craft Corporation commissioned him “to design their postwar line of 52 foot enclosed bridge deck cruisers”1.
Brooks Stevens: The Designer Who Made Milwaukee Famous Part 1
“Man can live with man all over the world, if man will trade with man. I’d rather compete with other countries in the marketplace than in the rocket place.” –Brooks Stevens
Schlitz Beer is generally known as “The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous,” yet Brooks Stevens is the man who is not as well-known for making Milwaukee famous for great design in the mid-Twentieth Century. Stevens is most likely recognized for his dramatic redesign of the iconic Oscar Meyer Weinermobile in 1958. During Stevens’ lifetime, his designs for automobiles, engines, household appliances, farm equipment and even railroad cars influenced the way people live and work. Stevens is also remembered for rocking the design industry by popularizing the concept of “planned obsolescence.”1
Brooks Stevens, Oscar Meyer Weinermobile (1958). Photographer unknown.
Brooks Stevens’ Rough Start
Brooks Stevens was born in 1911 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of William C. Stevens, the Executive Vice President and design director for a large manufacturer of electrical motor controls located in Milwaukee. William Stevens developed a type of preselective gearshift for automobiles in 1916, an innovation that would eventually make it easier for more women to drive automobiles.1
As a child Brooks “accompanied his father around the country to automobile shows and observed him demonstrating these automotive innovations”1. This time spent with his father helped to foster Brooks’ life-long passion for automobiles. The young boy truly enjoyed drawing automobiles, trains and boats and building them from model kits. At the age of eight, young Brooks developed a case of polio so severe that doctors predicted he would never walk again.2 With a strict exercise regime, along with his loving father’s constant encouragement, Brooks regained full use of his legs.3
After graduating from high school Brooks began studies in Architecture at Cornell University in 1929.3 Brooks’ love of automobile design, however, was apparently greater than his interest in architecture, so he left college without graduating and returned to Milwaukee in 1933 to work for this father’s firm.1
Silly Saturday: The Most Delicious Architecture
During the recent holiday season Architizer News held its first gingerbread competition. The winning entry was submitted by Team Jacussi’s cookie construction of Oscar Niemeyer’s famed National Congress of Brazil which is shown here. Other notable entries included gingerbread versions of Philip Johnson’s Glass House and a Taos Pueblo. View these and other delicious entries on the Architizer blog.
Gingerbread House based on Oscar Niemeyer’s famed National Congress of Brazil, 2012. Photo Credit: Architizer.com
Damn Good Advice from George Lois
Legendary advertising executive, art director, designer and author George Lois has often been referred to as the “Original Mad Man” or the “Real Mad Man,” although he abhors the comparison. According to Lois, “‘Mad Men’ misrepresents the advertising industry of my time by ignoring the dynamics of the Creative Revolution that changed the world of communications forever.”1
Now Lois offers some, well, actually, quite a lot of advice for creative professionals in his recent book Damn Good Advice. Lois passes on knowledge gained from his decades of experience in the business working with big name clients: CBS, American Airlines, Cutty Sark, Time Magazine, Minolta, Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger and many others.
Read an interview with George Lois on Standard Culture.
- Lois, G. (27 March, 2012) Is “Mad Men’ Real? I Don’t Think So. CNN.com http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/24/opinion/lois-mad-men
George Lois (c. 1965), photographer unknown.
Happy 50th Anniversary Marin County Civic Center
A big thanks to Prairie Mod for sharing an article about a special postmark commemorating the 50th anniversary of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most futuristic looking buildings, the Marin County Civic Center. Read More.
At fifty the Marin County Civic Center Still looks far ahead of its time.
Frank Lloyd Wright. Marin County Civic Center, San Raphael, CA (1963).
Silly Saturday: Marilyn Peep Show
Karyn Zupke, Marilyn Monroe (n.d.). Copyright 2012 PeepTopia!
Apologies for the rather misleading headline, but we just couldn’t resist. If you look closely at the image posted here, you can see that the Andy Warhol inspired portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe is made of Peeps® marshmallow candies. How Sweet it is!
Visit PeepTopia to view more Peeps® masterpieces.