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Essay Paper on Streamlining

Streamlining is a famous trend in design which took place in the USA in the 30-s of the last century. Due to this trend there appeared many material objects of a very distinct shape which were widely used in many spheres of people’s life. Since then the notion of streamlining has meant innovation, modernization, improvement, and efficiency.

This paper is devoted to considering streamlining as a phenomenon in design and defining whether this phenomenon was a real revolution in design or simply a matter of styling.

To begin with, it is necessary to define what this notion really means. “Streamlining is the shaping of an object, such as an aircraft body or wing, to reduce the amount of drag or resistance to motion through a stream of air. A curved shape allows air to flow smoothly around it.” Thus, this type of design is aimed at reducing resistance and increasing the aircraft’s lift. According to this design, the front of the object is well-rounded, while rear is tapered, so the shape reminds a teardrop. This is what concerns aircrafts. This shape reduplicates the shape of fish or bird and does not only diminish resistance of air but also of any fluid the object goes through. As a result turbulence is minimized.

Historically streamlining took place and resulted in Wall Street crash of 1929 after which companies which lived through this economical disaster had to develop products which could be distinguished and different from those produced by traditional companies. The good example of this could be the invention of the Burlington Zephyr – the entirely new train which could revive the passenger rail traveling. The reason for this step was the preference of the passengers given to their own cars. Also, this invention was supposed to improve the state of rail industry, especially, transportation, harmed by the Great Depression. Notably, designers started to developed streamlined transport in the very beginning of the 20th century but it was recognized and widely spread only in the 30-s.

The streamlining was declared as a new trend at the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition also known as the World’s Fair of 1933-1934. And while such vehicles as Fuller’s streamlined automobile, the Dymaxion Car No. 3 or Chrysler’s Airflow failed to attract the public’s attention, Burlington Zephyr did. This train not only returned the romance of railway traveling to the USA, it as well interested designers (rather than engineers) who eventually started to work on developing streamlined products.

But again, before we consider the issue of streamlining in the domain of design in general, I would like to consider the process of its development in the field of engineering, namely of industrial design. It is necessary to be stated that cars (such as the 1932 Marmon 16 developed by Walter Dorwin Teague) or the streamlined train by Norman Bel Geddes created in 1931 (who as well designed a plane, a yacht, a liner), or the Raymond Loewy’s streamlined Greyhound buses were made according to the laws of aerodynamics and shaped as teardrops. The reason for it was the fact that “[t]he Society of Automobile Engineers concluded in 1931 that the ‘ultimate form’ for the automobile was the teardrop.” The ultimate product developed by automobile designers and widely produced and used by the consumers for decades was the Beetle Volkswagen which was designed by Ferdinand Porshe.

Thus, when we consider industrial design, it is apparent that all vehicles developed and created in the 30-s were made according to streamlining tradition not only in the USA but also in Europe. This means that this phenomenon not only influenced the process of designing transport (cars, trains, and ocean and air liners). It became revolutionary and dominant in the engineering of the 30-s of the 20th century.

Also, it is important to mention that streamlining conquered the hearts of people and its futuristic design started to be used in other fields of production other than making vehicles. Such designers as Walter Dorwin Teague (a former advertising illustrator) Norman Bel Geddes and Henry Dreyfuss (stage designers) and Raymond Loewy (one of New York’s foremost fashion illustrators) started working in this domain using the practice of streamlining to develop new consumer products. As a result, such things as cameras, skyscrapers, radios, refrigerators, and even the Coca-Cola bottle, furniture and furnishings became streamlined. Notably, each of the designers had his own vision and his own design theory. Some even designed their products deeply considering manufacturing process as well paying attention to reducing costs and improving services. (3) This type of design was often entitled utilitarian art for designers tried to make things surrounding people beautiful and aesthetic…

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