Sunday, 11 October 2009

Norman Bel Geddes

Norman Melancton Bel Geddes 
(April 27, 1893 – May 9, 1958)

An American theatrical and industrial designer who focused on aerodynamics.
Bel Geddes was born Norman Melancton Geddes in Adrian, Michigan, the son of Flora Luelle and Clifton T. Geddes, a stockbroker.
When he married a woman named Helen Belle Schneider in 1916, they incorporated their names to Bel Geddes. Their daughter was actress Barbara Bel Geddes.
He began his career with set designs for Aline Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theater in the 1916-1917 season, then in 1918 as the scene designer for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He designed and directed various theatrical works, from Arabesque and The Five O'Clock Girl on Broadway to an ice show entitled It Happened on Ice produced by Sonja Henie.
He designed costumes for Max Reinhardt, and created the sets for the New York premiere production of Sidney Kingsley's Dead End (1935).

Bel Geddes opened an industrial-design studio in 1927, and designed a wide range of commercial products, from cocktail shakers to commemorative medallions to radio cabinets. His designs extended to unrealized futuristic concepts: a teardrop-shaped automobile, and an Art Deco House of Tomorrow. In 1929, he designed "Airliner Number 4," a 9-deck amphibian airliner that incorporated areas for deck-games, an orchestra, a gymnasium, a solarium, and two airplane hangars.
Bel Geddes's book Horizons (1932) had a significant impact: "By popularizing streamlining when only a few engineers were considering its functional use, he made possible the design style of the thirties." He wrote forward-looking articles for popular American periodicals.
Bel Geddes designed the General Motors Pavilion, known as Futurama, for the 1939 New York World's Fair. For that famous and enormously influential installation, Bel Geddes exploited his earlier work in the same vein: he had designed a "Metropolis City of 1960" in 1936.
Bel Geddes's book Magic Motorways (1940) promoted advances in highway design and transportation, foreshadowing the Interstate Highway System ("there should be no more reason for a motorist who is passing through a city to slow down than there is for an airplane which is passing over it"). His autobiography, Miracle in the Evening, was published posthumously in 1960.
"Norman," written by Gerry Beckley of the band America and performed by Jeff Larson on his 2002 album Fragile Sunrise, is an homage to Bel Geddes.

The works of Norman Bel Geddes include :

Norman Bel Geddes model, 1934

Pair of 1930’s Art Deco enameled metal lounge chairs, by Norman Bel Geddes.

 Norman Bel Geddes Predicts the Future 

The "Patriot" radio, 1939 Norman Bel Geddes


The "Patriot" radio, 1939 Norman Bel Geddes


Norman Bel Geddes Metal Dresser for Simons. USA 1940's





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