Walter Dorwin Teague – Brownie cameras
Walter Dorwin Teague (December 18, 1883 – December 5, 1960)
was an Art Deco designer. He designed cameras for Eastman Kodak from 1928 to 1933.
American industrial designer and writer. Between 1903 and 1907 he studied at evening classes at the Art Students League in New York, while working as a sign-painter. He then worked as an advertising illustrator, in particular for Calkins & Holden, a pioneering agency that specialized in the use of art for illustrations and in advising clients on the appearance of their products. Between 1911 and 1928 Teague worked as a freelance illustrator and commercial artist and became known for his use of classical typography and decorative borders, as in the layout and borders for Time magazine (1923). In 1926, while traveling in Europe, he discovered the work of Le Corbusier and in particular his book Vers une architecture (1923). On his return to New York that year he decided to pursue a career in designing or restyling products and packages for manufacturers. In New York at that time a group of individuals including Teague, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy and Henry Dreyfuss (1904–72) began to establish industrial design as an independent occupation, promoted by the foundation of the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen in 1927. Later, in 1944, the Society of Industrial Designers was founded with Teague as its first President.
His career took off in 1908 when he joined the art department of a well-known advertising agency. By 1927, Teague had become a freelance artist and an important authority on typography. He believed that the use of better business methods and products would improve the quality of life for ordinary people. He was 46 years old when the Depression arrived.
In 1927, Teague formed a design firm and a year later landed a contract with Kodak which produced the Art Deco gift camera (1928), Baby Brownie (1934), Bantam Special (1936), Kodak Super 620 (1938), and Brownie Hawkeye (1950). He designed the first Polaroid camera for Edwin Land. Teague was on the design board of the 1939 World’s Fair. In 1940 Teague published a book, Design this Day; a Technique of Order in the Machine Age. He later worked extensively for Boeing and was responsible for the interior design of many of their planes. The Teague company is apparently an active player in the contemporary design field.
The restyling of consumer goods
During the 1930s styling, product design, graphic design and architecture came together in the form of fair design. On the fairgrounds the role of the designer expanded and defined itself. Designers situated themselves in a nobrow territory, claiming to have expertise on the sensibilities of consumers fair designers promoted lowbrow tastes as much as they did the values of high art. Designers also ventured into a territory closer to marketing than traditional graphic design. Data was collected on attendance counts, how people interacted in certain spaces, lengths of visits, etc.. Walter Dorwin Teague is important in his conceptual approach, determining what message the client should deliver and how. Instead of straightforwardly representing what a company does Teague simplified and streamlined the message, perhaps to the point of being simplistic. The end result was an exuberant romanticizing of the manufacturing process: technological development = utopia. What is perhaps more important is the way in which fair designers realized the potential for designing an experience. By using lighting, pacing, color, perspective, and technology spaces could essentially be coded or scripted to influence the way in which a consumer behaves.
From 1928 to 1933 Kodak made several colored and deco-styled cameras that were designed to appeal specifically to the style-conscious women of the twenties. In 1928 Kodak hired Walter Dorwin Teague, a well-known American industrial designer to create cameras with a classier, more elegant look. He first created the Series III Vest Pocket Vanity Kodak, a metal and embossed leather camera that came in five colors: Bluebird (deep blue), Cockatoo (green), Sea Gull (gray), Redbreast (red), and Jenny Wren (brown). To keep the women of the twenties looking their cosmopolitan best while snapping pictures, Teague next designed the Vanity Kodak Ensemble outfit, which included a color-coordinated camera, lipstick holder, compact, mirror and change purse in a fitted case. Similar models included the more common Ensemble, and the very rare Coquette. The most popular Kodak cameras of the twenties and thirties were designed for the entire family. Brownies came in six bright, fun colors. The Boy Scout, Girl Scout, Camp Fire Girls’ Kodak cameras were each manufactured with scout logos imprinted on the body and cases. The Scout models were Model B Vest Pocket Kodak’s like the Petites. The Petite model also came in five colors, and special versions were made with deco metal and enamel face plates, one with a step pattern, a lightning bolt pattern and a diamond door pattern. The most spectacular of all the box cameras was again designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, the Beau Brownie. The Beau Brownie was made in two sizes and came in five colors with a modern deco two-tone pattern on the face and box. During the Christmas season of 1930 a Gift Kodak was offered, in a cedar wood presentation box with matching deco design. The finest of all the Teague designed cameras was the Kodak Bantam Special, a master- piece of art-deco styling.
The old-style Texaco gas stations, the ones that were painted white with forest-green streamline stripes and a free-standing post bearing the red Texaco star logo on a white disk, were designed by Walter Dorwin Teague . In his book “Design This Day” (1940) Teague shows his original work for Texaco, the exhibition hall he designed for them at the Texas Centennial fair in 1935, plus photos of the small gas stations which were built cookie-cutter-like all over America