I set aside at an early age my dad’s entreaties for me to become a farmer – getting up at 4:30 a.m. to milk cows didn’t seem particularly appealing to a 10-year-old. Instead, my fascination lay with form and function, a passion that I pursued with a degree in industrial design at a time when industrial design had yet to be fully defined.
It was the dawn of post-War consumerism, with the invention of remote controls, telephone answering machines, videotape recorders, power steering, still cameras with built-in flash units, and hovercrafts. Between trips to the hot new hamburger joint in town – McDonald’s – youngsters were passing their time with new-to-the-market Play-Doh, Barbie dolls, and Slinkys.
I, instead, was admiring the accomplishments of Raymond Loewy, the Father of Industrial Design, whose remarkable career spanning six decades prompted the Smithsonian Institution to run a four-month exhibition in his honor.
Thus my early work at Sunbeam and Ampex, which brought my own accolades with national design awards and a few patents, now expired. But times, they were a-changin’ – seasoned designers were being passed over for cheaper-pay young bucks with something to prove.
I had an opportunity to strike out on my own with a custom frame gallery that later morphed into an antique clock restoration business. Well, that’s a whole ’nuther story, but here, again, capturing my fancy were the precision of working in thousandths, the wide variety of clockwork and case designs, and woods that had withstood decades of service.
It is from this background that one day I put tool to lathe, soon needing – yet again – the challenge of the patience and precision required of my early days. It’s no surprise that Dale Nish’s Ray Allen book “did it” for me, and I’ve been fascinated with segmenting since.
In all things, one remains constant – 4:30 a.m. is STILL too early!