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Object Timeline

1965

  • Work on this object began.

1992

  • We acquired this object.

2008

2015

2019

  • You found it!

Drawing, Designs for "Cleaner Shapes" for Eureka Company Vacuum Cleaners, 1965

This is a Drawing. It is dated 1965 and we acquired it in 1992. Its medium is pastel, brush and gouache, pen and black ink, graphite on brown paper with rounded corners. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

Richard Arbib began his industrial design career as a car stylist in the late 1930s under Harley Earl. After opening his own design studio in New York in 1939, he designed products from ocean liners to dirigibles to refrigerators to wristwatches—for US government agencies and commercial manufacturers—for more than half a century. One of Arbib’s most innovative and well-known designs is the Princess vacuum for Eureka, the first suitcase-shaped vacuum cleaner. Introduced in the 1950s, the Princess was intended to be lightweight and easy to carry around the house. After setting record sales for Eureka, it was produced in different varieties and widely copied by other companies. This presentation drawing shows a sleeker, more compact suitcase-shaped vacuum than the original. While still a student, Arbib termed his design style “plastonic” for its lack of corners or sharp angles. He believed the term “streamlining,” which became popular with the rise of the industrial design profession in the 1930s, should not be applied to immobile objects. The futuristic shapes were characteristic of Arbib’s design throughout his career, as were the carefully rendered and colored presentation drawings, which helped raise the level of this preliminary work across the profession.

It is credited Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. Griffith Bailey Coale and from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund.

Our curators have highlighted 1 object that are related to this one.

  • Drawing, Design for a Clock Radio, 1957
  • blue, black pastel, brush and watercolor, gouache, graphite on vellum.
  • Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. Griffith Bailey Coale and from Eleanor....
  • 1992-181-1

Its dimensions are

46.1 x 61.8 cm (18 1/8 x 24 5/16 in.)

It is signed

Signed in white gouache, lower right: Arbib 65'

It is inscribed

Inscribed in white gouache, center: NEW Cleaner Shapes; upper left: ROLL TOP ACCESS PANEL (all underlined); also upper left: INJECTION MOLDED/ POLYPROPALENE SHELL (underlined)/ BUMPER INTEGRAL); upper right: ULTRA-THIN SHAPE (all underlined); center right: SINGLE BALL WHEEL; lower right: TOOLS IN STAND (all underlined); lower right of center: RETRACTABLE WHEELS (all underlined); lower left: CONVENTIONAL UPRIGHT (underlined); DIRT CONTAINER (underlined); MOTOR UNIT (underlined); DOUBLE WIDTH TOOL (underlined); FLEXIBLE SHAFT (underlined); MOTOR UNIT (underlined).

Cite this object as

Drawing, Designs for "Cleaner Shapes" for Eureka Company Vacuum Cleaners, 1965; USA; pastel, brush and gouache, pen and black ink, graphite on brown paper with rounded corners; 46.1 x 61.8 cm (18 1/8 x 24 5/16 in.); Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. Griffith Bailey Coale and from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund; 1992-181-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18639685/ |title=Drawing, Designs for "Cleaner Shapes" for Eureka Company Vacuum Cleaners, 1965 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=23 May 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>