George Sakier (1897 – 1965) American Industrial Designer

Collection of ten vases designed by George Sakier
Collection of ten vases designed by George Sakier

George Sakier (1897 – 1965) was a multifaceted artist who worked as an interior designer, painter, art director, engineer, and packaging designer. He was also a pioneering industrial designer in the United States. His career was as varied as it was extensive, and his influence on the development of a modern design aesthetic was felt not only in the United States but also in Europe.

Sakier emerged as an arbiter of modernism and one of the first industrial designers during this period, particularly in the 1930s. His designs for the American Radiator Company’s bathroom and kitchen fixtures reveal some of the earliest manifestations of a uniquely American modernist style. Sakier quietly disseminated his modern aesthetic throughout the country through the market appeal and affordability of his industrially designed products.

Education

From the late 1910s he studied at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn New York; Columbia University Graduate School in New York and painting in Paris.

Biography

At the age of 19, he published the textbook Machine Design and Descriptive Geometry. He began working as an engineer, designing automatic machinery; and was introduced to art during World War I by painting camouflage patterns. He taught machine design and engineering mathematics after the war. In 1925, he was appointed assistant art director of French Vogue, and he campaigned for the restoration of the Mayan collection housed in Paris’ Trocadéro. The collection was subsequently put on view. 

Returning to New York, he became art director of the magazines Modes and Manners and Harper’s Bazaar. From 1927, he was head of the bureau of design development of the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation, where he designed bathtubs and wash basins, and was simultaneously an independent designer. 

Kitchen Designed by George Sakier’, 1939. From Decorative Art 1939 -…

Kitchen Designed by George Sakier’, 1939. From Decorative Art 1939 – The Studio Year Book, edited by C. G. Holme. [The Studio Ltd., London, 1939]. Artist Unknown. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images

He was one of the few staff designers in an American company during the 1920s. From 1929, he designed for Fostoria Glass in Moundsville, West Virginia, for which he executed a distinctive and extensive collection of domestic glassware. 

Through Sakier’s efforts at Fostoria, American open-stock glassware for the first time became more popular than European. Sakier believed in furnishing the public with what it wanted rather than what it needed; he raised no objection when one of his designs was copied and sold in inexpensive variety-store chains. 

Bowl, ca. 1930. Brooklyn Museum designed by George Sakier
Bowl, ca. 1930. Brooklyn Museum designed by George Sakier

Sakier designed the first prefabricated bathrooms, available as complete units or as separate components; 233 units were first installed in a Washington apartment building in 1933—34. His freelance-design activities produced $15,000 to $25,000 income a year by the mid-1930s.

Exhibitions

In c1918, he showed canvases at the Galerie Julien Lévy in Paris, and a one-person 1949 exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. His work included in 1934 ‘The Industrial Arts Exposition,’ National Alliance of Art, Rockefeller Center, New York; 1939 ‘New York World’s Fair.’

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Klein, C. (2012). The Quiet Dissemination of American Modernism: George Sakier’s Designs for American Radiator. Design Issues, 28(1), 81-90. Retrieved May 10, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41427812

Now Important 20th Century Design. Sakier, George collection of ten object sotheby’s n08920lot6fv3den. (n.d.). http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.56.html/2012/20th-century-design-n08920.

Wikipedia contributors. (2020, December 15). George Sakier. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:42, May 10, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=George_Sakier&oldid=994487141

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