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A Mini Documentary on the History of American Industrial Design

How did a simple and functional household item, like a toaster or toothpaste, go from an object that did no more than serve its household purpose to a representation of one’s individuality? This documentary – entitled “American Industrial Design: Design in a Nutshell” – from The Open University follows the creation and development of “Consumer Culture,” tracing its origins back to the Great Depression, and detailing the steady increase of unique and clever design upon inanimate everyday objects. From the introduction of materials like vinyl and plywood to the push for whiter toothpaste, it covers how these products developed from mere functional produce to a representation of lifestyle.

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