Viktor Schreckengost
First Lady Laura Bush, 100-year-old industrial designer Viktor Schreckengost, and U.S. President George W. Bush at the presentation of the 2006 National Medal of Arts in the Oval Office of the White House on November 9, 2006
Born June 26, 1906(1906-06-26)
Sebring, Ohio, United States
Died January 26, 2008 (aged 101)
Tallahassee, Florida
Occupation Father of industrial design

Viktor Schreckengost (June 26, 1906January 26, 2008) was the father of industrial design and creator of the Jazz Bowl, an example of Jazz Age art designed for Eleanor Roosevelt during his association with Cowan Pottery. He is the creator of the largest freestanding ceramic sculpture in the world, Early Settler, on permanent display at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Ohio. He also designed dinnerware. Eschewing the fancy, flowery French designs that were popular in the United States during the Great Depression, Schreckengost created simple modern designs that were popular throughout the country. He designed bicycles manufactured by Murray bicycles for Murray and Sears, Roebuck and Company. He designed the first cab over engine with engineer Ray Spiller. This design is used in almost every city bus today.

Schreckengost's peers included designers Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes, Eva Zeisel, and Russel Wright. Schreckengost, whose influence ranks with theirs according to scholars, had a quieter and more low-profile career in Cleveland. His designs included trucks, bicycles, furniture, industrial equipment and dinnerware.[1]

Early life and educationEditar

Schreckengost was one of six children. His father worked at a ceramics factory from which he brought home material for his children to model. Every week he held a sculpture contest among the children, the winner of which accompanied his father on his weekend trip into the local big city of Alliance, Ohio. Only years later did Schreckengost realize that his father systematically rotated the winner. Younger brothers Donald and Paul Schreckengost also went on to careers as ceramicists.[2]

Schreckengost graduated from the college at the Cleveland School of the Arts (now the Cleveland Institute of Art) in 1929 at which time he earned a partial scholarship to study at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna. To make the trip, he borrowed $1,500 from two owners of Gem Clay, an industrial ceramics manufacturer in Sebring. When he returned six months later, Schreckengost paid back his loans—a fortuitous event for the men from Gem Clay since separate bank failures during the Great Depression had otherwise wiped them out.


Schreckengost taught industrial design at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) for more than 50 years, and was a professor emeritus at CIA until his death. He was also the youngest faculty member ever at CIA (then known as the Cleveland School of the Arts). Schreckengost founded CIA's school of industrial design, the first of its kind in the country.

Notable students include Giuseppe Delena, chief designer at Ford Motor Co.; Larry Nagode, principal designer at Fisher-Price; Joe Oros, designer of the 1965 Ford Mustang, and Jerry Hirschberg, designer of the Infiniti J30 and the 1971 boatail Buick Riviera[3].

Schreckengost also enlisted in the Navy at age 37 to help the Allies in World War II. He was flown on secret missions to Europe where he used his modeling knowledge to help improve the radar used in the Battle of the Bulge. Later he helped design prosthetics for wounded soldiers. He retired from the Naval Reserves as a Captain. Schreckengost was also good friends with Cleveland's famed safety director Eliot Ness.


In 2000, the Cleveland Museum of Art curated the first ever retrospective of Schreckengost's work. Broad in scope, the exhibition included sculpture, pottery, dinnerware, drawings, and paintings. The centerpiece of the exhibit was the Jazz Bowl. The industrial design portion included many of his famous designs such as safer and cleaner printing presses, economical pedal cars, cab-over-engine trucks, banana-seat bicycles, electric fans, and lawn chairs. Then in his 90s, Schreckengost made many personal appearances at the exhibit. In April of 1991, Schreckengost travelled with Henry B. Adams, then curator of the CIA, to Norfolk, Virginia to address the Hampton Roads chapter of the American Institute of Architects -- at age 93.

Schreckengost lived in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and celebrated his 100th birthday in June 2006. The Viktor Schreckengost Foundation planned more than 100 exhibits of his work, with at least one in each state, to celebrate the milestone. The exhibits opened in March 100 days before his 100th birthday. Schreckengost attended an exhibit in New York City to open the shows. The night before his birthday he was honored at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights by a large and appreciative crowd. Also in 2006, Schreckengost was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor the federal government can bestow on an American artist. He and the nine other winners were feted in an Oval Office ceremony by President George W. Bush and the First Lady Laura Bush on November 9, 2006.[4]


Schreckengost died on January 26, 2008 at age 101 while visiting family in Tallahassee, Florida.[5]

See alsoEditar


  1. Rohrlich, Marianne. "Belatedly, Stardom Finds a 20th-Century Master", The New York Times, 2006-05-11. URL consultato il 2008-01-28.
  2. The Museum of Ceramics East Liverpool, Oh related links. The Museum of Ceramics.
  3. Industrial Designer Viktor Schreckengost dead at 101. Metropolis Magazine, Paul Makovsky, February 4, 2008.
  4. Viktor Announced as 2006 Medal of Arts Recipient. Viktor Schreckengost Foundation (2006-11-10). Retrieved on 2008-01-27.
  5. Litt, Steven. "Viktor Schreckengost has died at age 101", The Plain Dealer, 2008-01-27. URL consultato il 2008-01-27.

External linksEditar

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