This photo from 1960 shows the members of the Advisory Board of design experts for the Advanced Design Center at RCA with images from the "Sets of the Seventies" series that they created:
Joseph Carriero - an industrial design educator who chaired the industrial design department at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now the University of the Arts).
John Vassos - they left the S off his name, poor John, even in the design center that he had created they spelled his name wrong!
Melanie Kahane - a prominent interior designer who appeared on an NBC radio program "Decorating Wavelengths" and who served on the design committee for the United States Pavilion at the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels
Tucker Madawick - an in-house RCA industrial designer, he headed the Center.
Leonard Outhwaite - an anthropologist who served as a consultant for various organizations including the Rockefeller Foundation, museums and zoos and organized Outhwaite Exhibits, to design and construct museum, commercial, and World's Fair exhibitions.
Paul Rudolph - a major modernist American architect was chairman of the School of Architecture at Yale University when he served on the Advisory Board.
I am working on a blog piece for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art blog as a guest blogger, so this is a blog about a blog! Without giving too much away, my entry discusses Vassos’s overall contribution to television design and his involvement with the Advanced Design and Styling Center at RCA which I first learned about from fabulous concept drawings of portable televisions in the most 1960s of settings. I found these in a random file in Box 24 of the archive. Piecing together materials I found at the Vassos Archives at Syracuse University and conversations with the late industrial designer and historian Carroll Gantz, I learned that these concept drawings were part of the Design Center, a concept Vassos came up with in 1954 and was led by RCA designer Tucker Madawick at its formation in 1960. The Center engaged in top-secret blue sky thinking for televisions and other electronics of the future, bringing together a team of leading scholars and practitioners including Yale School of Architecture's modernist architect Paul Rudolph to imagine the future of television. Among the concept sketches was this "24 hour secretary" that allowed the busy executive to be constant contact with his secretary when away from the office. As we see in this image, she looked glamorous as she carried it around. Other designs they created, eight in all, are incredibly prescient about the future portability, accessibility and clarity of design that would come to define our mobile screen technologies now.
Almost 66 years ago today, John Vassos received design patents 118872 and 118873 for the Waterman Company for a modern fountain pen and clip. This streamlined beauty of translucent celluloid, would become the top selling “Hundred Year” pen which came in four rich, jewel-toned colors. Vassos added elegant and functional ridged layers across the pen punctuated by snappy gold accents at the cap and on the grip. This pen broke with the previous styles from the company, lacking in extraneous detail and fussy stuff. The company was so confident in the pen’s construction that they guaranteed it for 100 years. Indeed, the company recently returned to this classic design in its "Charleston" Series which revives the "art deco" aesthetics of John Vassos's original design.