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Object Timeline

1940

  • Work on this object began.

2014

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2016

2017

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Patriot Radio, 1940

This is a radio. It was designed by Norman Bel Geddes and manufactured by Emerson Radio and Phonograph Corp.. It is dated 1940 and we acquired it in 2014. Its medium is cast phenolic resin (opalon), molded urea plastic, molded cellulose acetate, embossed acetate, metal. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Norman Bel Geddes is a pioneering figure in American industrial design and the Patriot is his most iconic radio design. Created by Geddes for the Emerson Radio & Phonograph Corp., the Patriot made its debut in 1940. Its patriotic appearance, with its red, white, and blue palette, and a rectangular grill reminiscent of the stripes in the American flag, signaled an expression of faith in American technology, industry, and culture at a time when the country was making efforts to recover from the Great Depression while also coping with anxiety about the intensifying war in Europe.
The simple rectangular form of the radio case and its minimal decoration—featuring horizontal red and white stripes on the grill, a bold red and white circular station dial above two red control knobs with molded star decoration, and a simple red linear handle—exhibit a modern and pared-down, yet emotive, aesthetic. The Patriot radio shows Geddes at his best, drawing on his background in theatrical design and illustration as well as his commitment to industrial design. In 1925, while in Paris to design to a stage set, Geddes visited the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts (L’Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes). After seeing examples of modern products in that exhibition, Geddes decided to leave theater design for the new discipline of industrial design, convinced that industry would be the driving force of the age.
The Patriot not only strives to appear modern, it also takes advantage of new materials and manufacturing technologies of the time, utilizing the versatility of different types of colored plastic in combination with each other: the case is of tough, cast phenolic plastic; the handle and knobs are of durable molded urea plastic; the grill and station dial are of molded cellulose acetate; the transparent dial cover is a sheet of embossed clear acetate.
This would be the second example of Geddes' consumer product design to enter the museum’s collection, augmenting the representation of this innovative and influential figure within our American industrial design holdings.

This object was donated by George R. Kravis II. It is credited Gift of George R. Kravis II.

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Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 20.3 x 27.9 x 14 cm (8 in. x 11 in. x 5 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Patriot Radio, 1940; Designed by Norman Bel Geddes (American, 1893–1958); USA; cast phenolic resin (opalon), molded urea plastic, molded cellulose acetate, embossed acetate, metal; H x W x D: 20.3 x 27.9 x 14 cm (8 in. x 11 in. x 5 1/2 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2014-10-1

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=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68268053/ |title=Patriot Radio, 1940 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=23 November 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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