Here is an art deco toaster. A what?! Yes, even rather workaday home appliances became a mission for the deco imperative. The proportions are exquisite, the metalwork is a joy, the decorative touches are as chic as a prize lighter and the jet-black bakelite handles are a joy to reach out to. The textural consistency of slices of bread is a perfect foil for the shimmering surface; and the pop down/ pop up motions are a fantastic melange of machine age and romance. There is a little, red light, within the thin lines paying homage to the electrodynamics, neatly positioned at the bottom of one side, which conveys a saucy little signal that contact has been achieved.
Here’s a magazine ad from the origins of this entity in the pre-World War II-era, striking a middle-of-the-road attitude, the better to toast up some big sales numbers.
Norman Rockwell has grasped here the comedy of such sophisticated efforts, invading hard-core domesticity.
That cosmopolitan gem was launched at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. This deco toaster then found a place of honor in New York’s MOMA collection! Its insouciance and delight in beauty form an absorbing disclosure in light of the horror about to begin.
One of the simplest and most venerable of foods, bread (and its toasting) can be a significant work of art if approached in the right spirit. The hyper-designed Sunbeam product of yesteryear—made to last, as ours still does—functions as an alert not to succumb to destructive distractions, but instead to be mindful of riches all around us.
Stepping back in history is a step ahead in design!