In the midst of the Great Depression, Chicago emerged as a vibrant center of streamlined design. The aerodynamic style expressed optimism and a desire for speed, power, and efficiency that suited life in the 20th century. Showcased at the 1933–34 world’s fair, this aesthetic and its enormous popularity prompted many local companies to hire new talent to design stylish yet affordable goods for middle-class consumers. Some of Chicago’s quintessential streamlined products, including Radio Flyer wagons, Sunbeam appliances, and Farmall tractors, became national best-sellers and remain icons of modern American design.
Featuring nearly 300 objects, photographs, and printed materials dating from the 1930s to 1950s, Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America celebrates Chicago’s role in shaping one of the most popular and enduring styles in our history.