Boat-planes, trains, flying cars, or school desks — you name it and Norman Bel Geddes could make it sleeker. He helped bring the streamline style — one that balances aesthetics with aerodynamics — to the mainstream. Were Steve Jobs alive in the 1930s, he would have been all over this. Our friends at Oobject have 11 of his finest works.
Airliner Number 4
A 1929 design for an intercontinental airliner Geddes, produced with Otto Koller. It was envisioned to carry 451 passengers in the comfort of the most modern ocean liner with a crew of 155 which included a librarian, gymnast, masseur and masseuse, two headwaiters, two wine stewards, seven musicians and nine bar stewards.
Geddes Teardrop Car Model
None of Geddes' cars were built, however, the seven or so models that he produced were his first foray into industrial design.
1934 Patent Model Car
Bel Geddes Streamlined Bus Design
Geddes 'Whale' Ocean Liner Circa 1932
The streamlined shapes are more required for the bit below the water, than that above, since air resistance is less of a problem with the massive inertia and relatively slow speed of ships. For this reason you do see many boats that look this this, although it is rather beautiful.
Futurama Exhibit, GM Pavilion, NY Worlds Fair 1939
Bel Geddes tried to show the world 20 years into the future (1959-1960). Sponsored by General Motors, the installation was characterised by its automated highways and vast suburbs.
Streamline One Piece School Desk
A desk is by definition static, so the use of streamlined design for it shows it to be stylistic rather than aerodynamic.
Locomotive Number 1
An early streamlined train. Unlike cars, many streamlined trains were built.
Geddes Flying Car Design
Cobra Desk Lamp, 1930s
Geddes' most collectible item today.
Chairs By Geddes And Max Cobb
Much of Geddes' realised work was furniture which was less futuristic (more art deco than machine age) than his designs for transportation. These chairs however, are nicely modernist and look somewhat like a contemporary Marc Newson design.