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Drawing, Design for Flatware: Fork, Knife, Spoon

This is a Drawing. It was designed by Severin Jonassen and made for Russel Wright. It is dated 1933–35 and we acquired it in 2012. Its medium is airbrush and watercolor on wove paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Severin Jonassen was an American designer renowned for his later industrial design work for Philco, particularly his 1958 designs for the Predicta television. This drawing, devised when Jonassen worked for Russel Wright Associates in New York between 1933 and 1935, would be an interesting counterpoint to Jonassen’s later work.
The airbrush technique of the drawing is typical of 1930s industrial design drawings. The angular, thick form of the aluminum components is very art deco and similar to European examples of the 1930s. Design for Flatware is proposed for acquisition along with prototype utensils based on the drawing. Since the drawing does not match the prototype models exactly, the drawing was most likely a fully worked out presentation sketch that was later altered in the prototype stage.
After graduating from Pratt Institute in New York in 1933, Jonassen joined Russel Wright Associates in New York where he designed housewares, furniture, and lighting until 1935. From 1935 to 1945, he worked for General Motors under Harley Earl, as assistant chief designer in the styling section. In 1945, Jonassen returned to New York and set up an independent design firm with accounts at Frigidaire, American Optical Co., and Wheeler Boat Works. During this time, two of his chair models were submitted to MoMA’s Good Design competition and were published in the May 8, 1950 issue of Life magazine. In 1953, Jonassen joined Philco, working under Herbert Gosweiler, for whom he designed versions of what would become the Predicta television housing. Jonassen’s work on the Predicta is considered his most celebrated achievement. Gosweiler and Jonassen later became partners in their own firm (1965–68), with accounts including Bausch & Lomb and Proctor-Silex. After 1968 through his retirement, Jonassen moved from a Philadelphia design firm to reopening his own office in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania.
This drawing, together with the matching prototypes, would be important additions to the permanent collection.

It is credited Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

23.2 x 34.9 cm (9 1/8 x 13 3/4 in.) Mat: 38.7 × 50.2 cm (15 1/4 × 19 3/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for Flatware: Fork, Knife, Spoon; Designed by Severin Jonassen (American, 1913-1998); Made for Russel Wright ((American, 1904–1976)); USA; airbrush and watercolor on wove paper; 23.2 x 34.9 cm (9 1/8 x 13 3/4 in.) Mat: 38.7 × 50.2 cm (15 1/4 × 19 3/4 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2012-1-4

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Energizing the Everyday: Gifts From the George R. Kravis II Collection.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, Design for Flatware: Fork, Knife, Spoon |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=9 December 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>