Journal Article

Pioneers and Barbarians: The Design and Marketing of Electrical Household Goods as Dutch Americana, 1930–45

Timo de Rijk

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 22, issue 2, pages 115-132
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epp012
Pioneers and Barbarians: The Design and Marketing of Electrical Household Goods as Dutch Americana, 1930–45

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In the Netherlands, interest in the USA as a historical cultural phenomenon and as a source of examples of product design in particular has been very slight. Dutch publications on the importance of American design and the ideas and professional practice of designers in the world's largest industrial nation of the twentieth century are a fraction of those on European modernist design culture.2 As a result, most overviews of the history of design in the Netherlands contain no mention whatsoever of the substantial American influence on Dutch industrial design during the period of this study.3

This article examines the importance of commercial American design for the Dutch design world during this period. It does so largely by reference to the design of technologically innovative domestic products, in particular electrical household products. The USA was able to build up and export a part of its own cultural identity with these new kinds of goods at the beginning of the twentieth century. This article takes as its case study the design of the products made during the interwar years by Erres, which was from 1930 until 1945 the Netherlands’ largest manufacturer of electrical household goods. Finally, this article analyses the reasons why Dutch design histories have been only superficially interested in Dutch Americana.

Keywords: Americanization; design profession; domestic utensils; electricity; Netherlands

Journal Article.  9010 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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