Henry Dreyfuss

 

1904-1972

Henry Dreyfuss concerned himself more with problem solving and improvement than with style.  He made products better suited to work the way people used them.  His designs oftentimes produced a better look in the process but usability was his key objective.

A Brooklyn, NY native, Dreyfuss studied as an apprentice to theater designer Norman Bel-Geddes in the 1920s, and designed over 200 sets, but by the 1930s was a celebrity designer in his own right with such major corporate clients as Western Electric (the 302 "Lucy" telephone), Hoover (1st upright vacuum with Bakelite hood), Westclox (Big Ben alarm clock) and the New York Central Railroad (20th Century Limited locomotive). 

Other Dreyfuss products and clients: American Thermos, General Electric (flat topped refrigerator), Sears Roebuck (Toperator washing machine), Polaroid Land camera, 1939 World's Fair

 

(Democracity futuristic 2039 city and AT & T pavilion featuring the Vodar voice synthesizer exhibit), John Deere (Model A and Model B tractors), Wahl-Eversharp (Skyline fountain pen), Bell System (Model 500, Princess and Trimline phones), safety razors (Pal, Gem & Flicker) and Honeywell (round thermostat).

Dreyfuss was featured twice in Fortune magazine, once in 1934 as the subject of an article about product design by designer George Nelson and once in 1951 on the cover.  Dreyfuss's 1955 book, Designing for People, and 1960 The Measure of Man are considered class reference texts, as was his 1972 "Symbol Sourcebook: An Authoritative Guide to International Graphic Symbols.

In 1972 he and his wife, Doris Marks, who was terminally ill with liver cancer, chose to commit suicide together via carbon monoxide poisoning at their South Pasadena, California home.

 

 

 
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