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John Vassos


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Creating Design We Can Live With
1. Drawing Modernity: Advertising and Book Illustrations
2. Becoming an Industrial Designer
3. Modernizing the Home through Radio
4. Designed for Electricity: Vassos’s Architectural Interiors
5. Vassos and RCA: Money, Media, and Modernism
6. The TRK-12: RCA’s First Mass-Marketed Television Receiver
7. John Vassos in Postwar America
Conclusion: The Legacy of John Vassos

About the Author

Danielle Shapiro is an independent scholar who has served as senior program officer in the Division of Public Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. She earned her PhD in art history and communications studies from McGill University.


"Danielle Shapiro makes a convincing case for John Vassos's formerly unheralded, but highly significant, early contributions to the field now known as user interface (UI) design. The chapters about Vassos's design of knobs, dials, displays, and casings for RCA radios and studio recording machinery are especially illuminating. Furthermore, the book is beautifully written; the illustrations, almost all 'new', are aptly chosen; and the footnotes are a rich source of information not only about Vassos but also about twentieth-century design in general."—Carma Gorman, The University of Texas at Austin

"John Vassos is a complex portrait of an artist and designer whose early illustration work criticized the tempo and commercialism of modern life but whose later design work took for granted those same qualities and attempted to accommodate people to them."—Jeffrey L. Meikle, University of Texas at Austin"In the first complete picture of John Vassos, Danielle Shapiro definitively captures an industrial designer of the first rank."—Russell Flinchum, North Carolina State University"John Vassos energized the flow of products, people, and media with his streamlined designs for everything from kitchen appliances to turnstiles and radios. Danielle Shapiro has created an original portrait of this important designer and this key period in American design and popular culture."—Ellen Lupton, senior curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

"A compelling account."—The Art Bulletin"John Vassos, Industrial Design for Modern Life is not only an essential book for designers, but for those who love the history of design."—The Arts Fuse"Not simply the first biography of a designer who was a major contributor to the design of consumer electronics but also a solid examination of the evolution of consumer and industrial design during Vassos’s lifetime."—CHOICE"An expertly researched biography."—Journal of Design History

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