O ne might think that concern for the design and styling of industrial vehicles is a relatively new occurrence. In reality, the case could be made for it dating back to the renaissance period when the world's most famous designer, Leonardo DaVinci, spent a great deal of his time designing and constructing vehicles including the world's first known self propelled wagon. These vehicles had a unique beauty, much of it based around the form follows function dictum, but definitely designed to elicit a visual response from the intended user. In its most recent form, the concern for the appearance and humanization of manufactured vehicles began with the second generation of automobiles ( including any self propelled vehicle) in the early 1900s. A scant 25 years later, powerful cars, trucks, trains and earthmovers were being manufactured all over the world. At the same
time, the new profession of industrial design was taking form with the establishment of the Bauhaus School of Architecture and Industrial Design in 1925 in Germany. Many of this discipline's practitioners sought work in the US and the other industrial giants such as Germany and England. While much of the early work was concentrated on furniture and other household goods, a venturesome core of these pioneers of field became interested in automotive and industrial/ agricultural equipment. French- born Raymond Loewy established his design office in New York in 1929, and was known for his locomotive designs, International Harvester tractors, and Studebaker automobiles. Henry Dreyfus was originally a set designer, but established his own office in 1929 and became involved in product design. He later became the designer of John Deere agricultural vehicles. Another 20 years or so later, many manufacturers were beginning to hire designers as full- time employees in an effort to cut their costs and have their designer available at a moment's notice, and so the internal design department was born. In some industries these departments have grown to hundreds of designers. Generally, industrial vehicle design groups, whether internal or external have remained relatively small and often focused on this product category. My personal introduction to industrial vehicle design came in 1968, during a University of Illinois industrial design class tour of the Caterpillar Technical Center and their internal Industrial Design department. The department had been started some 10 years earlier by Bill Smart, a UofI graduate, and the visit proved to be a real eye opener for this young design student. Most impressive however was the scale, complexity, and sheer machismo of the products " Henry Dreyfus was originally a set designer, but he established his own office in 1929 and became involved in product design"