Not only the job of a designer, but also the design itself is an American invention. So it is no surprise, that the most famous design-mission statement „Form follows function“ comes from an American, the architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924).
Trade, production and consumption form the picture of the American design. The multiplicity of the "anonymous design products", which have a brand name, but don't need the name of a famous designer to be a "good design" is very impressive. Companies like Coke, Apple, IBM, Tupperware, Black& Decker, Harley Davidson, Polaroid, Kodak, Kellog, Rollerblade, General Motors etc. are known all over the world and embody the „American way of life“. Many machines and utensils of the daily use – from sewing machines and vacuum cleaners to record players and walk ´-men up to laptops - have a transatlantic origin. Personalities such as Thomas Edison or Henry Ford stand for inventiveness and innovation.
The United States of America have been a developing country in the product design until the 1920s, then they became the leading power of the modernity.
The first offices which let grave the description "Industrial Design" on their business sign opened first in New York at the end of the 20s. In America, where not only the mass production, but also the advertising and marketing has been developed significantly, design has also been a question of selling.
One of the leading exponents of the American design is Raymond Loewy (1893-1986), who is directed as founder of the Streamlines, because of the stremline covered S1-steam train, and also of the Corporate Designs (e.g. the emblems for Shell, Spar and Lucky Strike).
Other important contributions to the development of the design culture in the USA leaded at the end of the 1930s besides the once Bauhaus-tutor and immigrant Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Josef Albers or Marcel Breuer also the in 1939 founded Cranbook Academy, at which architects and designers like Eero Saarinen, Florence Knoll or Charles Eames have been exercised.
Also the in 1929 founded Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) contributed through the trend-setting exhibitions its interest to the American design sympathy and set new courses. If in 1932 with the exhibition „Modern Architecture. International Exhibition.“ through which the term „International Style“ has been defined; the in the 1940s arranged competitions „Organic Design in Home Furnishings“ and „Low Cost Furniture Design“ out of which products like La Chaise, the Plastic Chairs or the Plywood-Series by Ray & Charles Eames were developed or the epic exhibition „Italy: The New Domestic Landscape“, which presented the triumphal procession of the Italian design – it is still a big honor for designers, to be admitted to the collection of the MoMA with their designs.
Besides „Knoll International“ (founded in 1938) it was especially the business Herman Miller (founded in 1923), which produced trend-setting furniture with the designs of design director George Nelson and the co-designers Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi and Paul Laszlo. The famous products of Hermann Miller are the Marshmallow Sofa (1956), the Coconut Chair (1956), the Atomic Clock (1949, today: Ball Clock), which were all designed by George Nelson, the Plastic Chairs by Charles & Ray Eames (1948) or the Coffee Table (1944) by Isamu Noguchi, who especially became famous with the Akari lamp series in the 1950s.
In the 1960s especially the American auto-mobile industry experienced a large increase, but also the businesses like the office machines IBM was able to call itself one of the world's largest producers of host systems. While an objective design style established itself in the taste-controlling class, this was directed towards the emerging rebels of the 60s as target, out of which the Flower-Power and Pop-Design of the woodstock-generation resulted.
The 1970s in the USA were affected by the Vietnam-War, the Watergate-Affair and the oil crisis, that's why the directed to irritations, but also to reorientations and in created a proper design boom in the 80s. Products in the post-modern design were developed, like the Water Boiler „Bird“ of the American architect Michael Graves, who worked with Richard Meier for the Alessi-Project „Tea & Coffee Piazza“. With his furniture series Easy Edges (1972), Rough Edges (1982), the Paper armchair „Little Beaver“ (1987) and the Water Boiler „Pito“ (1992) the American architect Frank O. Gehry averted to himself, who became famous through his amorphousness and deconstructive architectural style as international architect.
Just like Henry Ford initiated the assembly line a kind of second industrial revolution, started also the electronic agitation of all affairs in America. PC, laptop and mobile phone changed the working world and the daily life. Besides the design teams and design branches of American businesses like e.g. Apple, Bose or Tupperware, there are today only a few famous furniture designers in America. The most famous ambassador of the youngest designer-generation are Jeffrey Bernett, Richard Shemtov, Nick Dine and Karim Rashid.