Dreyfuss was a native of Brooklyn, New York. As one of the celebrity industrial designers of the 1930s and 1940s, Dreyfuss dramatically improved the look, feel, and usability of dozens of consumer products. As opposed to Raymond Loewy and other contemporaries, Dreyfuss was not a stylist: he applied common sense and a scientific approach to design problems. His work both popularized the field for public consumption, and made significant contributions to the underlying fields of ergonomics, anthropometrics and human factors. Until 1920 Dreyfuss studied as an apprentice to theatrical designer Norman Bel Geddes, his later competitor, and opened his own office in 1929 for theatrical and industrial design activities. It was an immediate and long-lasting commercial success. As of 2005[update] his firm continues to operate as Henry Dreyfuss Associates with major corporate clients.
Significant original Dreyfuss designs include:
- the Western Electric 302 tabletop telephone for Bell Laboratories (produced 1936–1954)
- the Hoover model 150 vacuum cleaner (1936)
- the classic Westclox Big Ben alarm clock (1939)
- the New York Central Railroad's streamlined Mercury train, both locomotive and passenger cars (1936)
- the NYC Hudson locomotive for the Twentieth Century Limited (1938)
- the popular Democracity model city of the future at the 1939 New York World's Fair at the Trylon and Perisphere
- the styled John Deere Model A and Model B tractors (1938)
- the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline fountain pen (1940)
- the Royal Typewriter Company's Quiet DeLuxe (late 1940s)
- the Western Electric 500 desk telephone (1949), a Bell System standard for decades
- the two American steamships, S.S. Independence and S.S. Constitution for American Export Lines (1951–2)
- the Honeywell T87 circular wall thermostat (1953)
- the spherical Hoover model 82 Constellation vacuum cleaner which floated on an air cushion of its own exhaust (1954)
- the Hoover model 65 convertible vacuum cleaner (1957)
- the Princess telephone (1959)
- the Bankers Trust Building at 280 Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, with Emery Roth & Sons (1963)
- the Trimline telephone (1965)
- the Polaroid SX-70 Land camera (1972)
In 1955, Dreyfuss wrote Designing for People. A window into Dreyfuss's career as an Industrial Designer, the book included his ethical and aesthetic principles, design case studies, many anecdotes, and an explanation of his "Joe" and "Josephine" anthropometric charts. In 1960 he published The Measure of Man, a collection of ergonomic reference charts giving designers precise specifications for their product designs. In 1965, Dreyfuss became the first President of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). In 1969, he left the firm he founded, but continued serving many of the companies he worked with as board member and consultant. In 1972 Dreyfuss published The Symbol Sourcebook, A Comprehensive Guide to International Graphic Symbols. This visual database of over 20,000 symbols continues to provide a standard for Industrial Designers around the world.
On October 5, 1972, Henry Dreyfuss and his terminally ill wife and partner Doris Marks Dreyfuss committed suicide together.
Dreyfuss is currently survived by a daughter, eight grandchildren, ten great grandchildren, and counting.
His design company, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, continues to this day.
- White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot with Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195383867., p.317
- Henry Dreyfuss Associates | People | Collection of Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (October 2012)|
- Dreyfuss, Henry. Symbol Sourcebook: An Authoritative Guide to International Graphic Symbols. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 1984. ISBN 0-471-28872-1
- Dreyfuss, Henry. Designing for People. Allworth Press; illustrated edition, 2003. ISBN 1-58115-312-0
- Flinchum, Russell. Henry Dreyfuss, Industrial Designer: The Man in the Brown Suit. Rizzoli, 1997. ISBN 0-8478-2010-6
- Innes, Christopher. Designing Modern America: Broadway to Main Street. Yale University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-300-10804-4
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Henry Dreyfuss.|
- Henry Dreyfuss Associates website
- Video on Dreyfuss's design for Honeywell thermostat and for his Bell Telephone, at Wikimedia Commons