Henry Dreyfuss is widely recognized as one of the most prominent early industrial designers. The Washburn Company hired Dreyfuss to update its line of kitchen tools in 1934; the company’s president John S. Tomajan had already met with several practitioners featured in Fortune’s seminal article on industrial designers published in February of that same year. Tomajan was turned off by the arrogant attitude of the other designers but was drawn to the young Dreyfuss’s earnest and straightforward manner. Dreyfuss set out to reshape the Washburn line in terms of both form and color, perceiving the commission not as a challenge to create one universal tool, but a series of purpose-specific objects that put function and usability at the fore. He expanded the collection to include diverse array of objects such as the potato masher, slotted spoon, and spatula in this group. The various utensils were united by the bright colors in which they were produced: red, yellow, and green.These objects combine the reductive forms favored in the 1920s and ‘30s with streamlined elements. The resulting designs anticipate the mid-twentieth-century preoccupation with biomorphic shapes that contribute to the line’s usability. This user-centricity is a key tenet of Dreyfuss’s ideology, which in later years would contribute to his system of anthropometrics, or human factors, in design.
This object was donated by George R. Kravis II.
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Energizing the Everyday: Gifts From the George R. Kravis II Collection.