Thomas Lamb – Industrial Designer – “The Handle Man”

Kitchen Tools with Lamb Wedge-Lock Handles by Thomas Lamb
Kitchen Tools with Lamb Wedge-Lock Handles by Thomas Lamb

Thomas Babbit Lamb (1896โ€“1988) was an industrial designer in the United States. His revolutionary handle designs, which are based on the mechanics of the human hand, are his most well-known works.

Biography

Lamb was born on September 18, 1896, in New York City. He apprenticed himself to a plastic surgeon at the age of 14, making medical drawings in exchange for anatomy lessons, and worked in a textile design company from the age of 14. He studied figure drawing and painting at the Art Students League of New York in the evenings. Lamb also went to Columbia University to study commerce. Thomas Lamb’s success as a designer was based on combining anatomy, art, and business.

Textile Design

Thomas Lamb founded his textile design studio at seventeen, specialising in advertising, fashion, and magazine illustration. In the 1920s, his bedspreads, napkins, and draperies were immensely popular. Many New York department stores carried them, including Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Children’s Books

He started illustrating children’s books in 1924, with titles such as Runaway Rhymes, The Tale of Bing-O, Jolly Kid Alphabet, and Kiddyland Story Balloons. Lamb signed a contract with Good Housekeeping magazine to illustrate a series of Kiddyland cartoons shortly after his success with Runaway Rhymes. Kiddyland fabrics, soaps, and talcum powder were among the tie-ins developed by Lamb. There was even a Kiddiegram for Western Union, which Shirley Temple praised.

WWII Effects

During WWII, Lamb, like many other American designers, re-examined his design philosophy. A line of Victory Napkins and the “Adolph the Pig” piggy bank, which was used to stimulate the purchase of war bonds, were among his early responses to the economic and social realities of the time.

Thomas Lamb's "Adolph the Pig." The message scribbled on top reads "Save for Victory and Make Him Squeal." Courtesy of the Museum of World War II, Boston. On display at the WWII & NYC exhibit, New-York Historical Society.
Thomas Lamb’s “Adolph the Pig.” The message scribbled on top reads “Save for Victory and Make Him Squeal.” Courtesy of the Museum of World War II, Boston. On display at the WWII & NYC exhibit, New-York Historical Society.

Like Charles and Ray Eames, Lamb saw the crutches used by injured and disabled servicemen as inadequate. Lamb began by concentrating on the armrest but soon realised that the hand was bearing most of the weight. He began to experiment with techniques to shift the weight and make the crutches easier to handle. He created his Lamb Lim Rest crutch after studying anatomy and medical textbooks for a long time.

Becoming the “Handle Man”

Thomas Lamb became renowned as the “Handle Man” in the late 1940s. Cookware, cutlery, medical tools, baggage, sporting equipment, and industrial equipment all benefitted from Lamb’s patents developed while inventing the Lim Rest. His designs were a key impact on the Universal Design movement, culminating in his unusual “Wedge-Lock” and “Universal” handles. When the design establishment was focused on Bauhaus-inspired utility, his work was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in 1948. As a result of the attention, Cutco and Wear-Ever awarded them contracts to create cutlery and cookware.

Thomas Lamb died on February 2, 1988, at the age of ninety-one.

Sources

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, September 16). Thomas Lamb (industrial designer). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:46, November 7, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Thomas_Lamb_(industrial_designer)&oldid=1044621321

More on Industrial Designers

  • Enzo Mari (1932 -2020) Italian modernist, industrial designer

    Enzo Mari (1932 -2020) Italian modernist, industrial designer

    Graduating Table Bowls In 1956, he became interested in design, particularly books and children’s games. In 1957, he began working for Danese, for whom some of his designs and ideas for games and puzzles, including the 1957 wooden child’s puzzle, were realised.Read More →

  • Gianni Pasini (b.1937) Italian Designer – Electronic Machinery

    Gianni Pasini (b.1937) Italian Designer – Electronic Machinery

    Gianni Pasini was born in 1937 in Venice and professionally active in Milan. Some of his clients were Olivetti, Fabbrica Italiana, Magneti Marelli, and Crin hospital. He worked with Sandro Pasqui in a design studio from 1974 onwards.Read More →

  • Antonia Astori (b.1940) Italian designer co-founded Driade

    Antonia Astori (b.1940) Italian designer co-founded Driade

    Antonia Astori co-founded Driade with her brother Enrico and Adelaide Acerbi in 1968. She was able to create a unique network of furniture designers, galleries, and shops.Read More →

  • Arata Isozaki (b. 1931) is a Japanese architect, urban designer

    Arata Isozaki (b. 1931) is a Japanese architect, urban designer

    Arata Isozaki is a Japanese architect, urban designer, and theorist from ลŒita. He was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal in 1986 and the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2019.Read More →

  • Eliot Noyes (1910 – 1977) American industrial designer

    Eliot Noyes (1910 – 1977) American industrial designer

    Eliot Noyes (1910 – 1977) was an industrial designer from the United States. From 1928 to 1932, he studied architecture at Harvard University, followed by stints at the Graduate School of Design from 1932 to 1935 and 1937 to 1938. Read More →

  • Zanussi Italian manufacturer and design firm

    Zanussi Italian manufacturer and design firm

    Antonio Zanussi established the household appliance firm in Pordenone in 1916. It was initially a workshop for repairing stoves. His sons and Guido and Lino took over on his death in 1946, and under them, the firm began its rise. Read More →

  • Jasper Morrison (b.1959) British Designer quirky, understated furniture

    Jasper Morrison (b.1959) British Designer quirky, understated furniture

    Morrison produced quirky, satiric, understated furniture. His 1986 South Kensington flat was widely published in design magazines. He designed 1988ย Door handles I and II, and a 1989 range of aluminium handles produced by FSB in Germany.ย Read More →

  • Christian Barman (1898โ€“1980) British industrial designer

    Christian Barman (1898โ€“1980) British industrial designer

    Christian Barman was a key first-generation British industrial designer during the interwar years. He is best known for his 1936 electric iron for HMV, which he started designing in 1933. He studied architecture at Liverpool University and ran his practice until Frank Pick invited him to join London Transport as a Publicity Officer in 1935.Read More →

  • Marc Harrison (1936 – 1998) American Industrial designer

    Marc Harrison (1936 – 1998) American Industrial designer

    Marc Harrison (1936-1998) was an industrial designer from the United States. Harrison sustained a significant brain injury in a sledding accident when he was eleven years old. He had to relearn simple functions like walking and talking as a result of the crash. Harrison gained experience and motivation for his future work as an industrial designer due to this incident and his lengthy recovery.Read More →

  • Steve McGugan (b.1962) Canadian Industrial Designer

    Steve McGugan (b.1962) Canadian Industrial Designer

    Medical Technology and Telecommunications Steve McGugan (b.1962) is a Canadian industrial designer. He was bornRead More →

  • Frank Nuovo (b.1961) Chief Designer for Nokia

    Frank Nuovo (b.1961) Chief Designer for Nokia

    Nuovo studied product and automotive design and graphics and communications design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.Read More →

  • Raymond Loewy (1893 – 1986) ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ American Designer

    Raymond Loewy (1893 – 1986) ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ  American Designer

    He arrived in the United States in 1929, just in time for the great depression. As it happened the beginning of the depression was a fortuitous time for a talented designer with new ideas to arrive in the United States. The old design aesthetic was disappearing with the collapsing economy. Manufacturers wanted to stimulate demand for their products by offering customers new designs, and Loewy had an abundance of them with the ego to match. His mother had always told him, “It is better to be envied than pitied.”Read More →

  • Ernest Race (1913 – 1964) British furniture and industrial designer

    Ernest Race (1913 – 1964) British furniture and industrial designer

    Ernest Race (1913 – 1964) was a British furniture and industrial designer. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Between 1932-35, he studied interior design at the Bartlett School of Architecture of London University and 1937-39, weaving in India. Read More →

  • Mario Bellini (b.1935) Italy’s most versatile designer

    Mario Bellini (b.1935) Italy’s most versatile designer

    Mario Bellini is one of Italy’s most versatile designers. Trained as an architect, he is known for his furniture and industrial design work. The new forms he developed for contemporary technology and furniture objects inspired designers internationally.Read More →

  • Alberto Rosselli (1921-76) Italian architect and industrial designer

    Alberto Rosselli (1921-76) Italian architect and industrial designer

    Alberto Rosselli (1921-76) Italian architect and industrial designer. He was born in Palermo. He was professionally active in Milan. Read More →

  • Erwin Komenda (1904 – 1966) Austrian Automobile Designer

    Erwin Komenda (1904 – 1966)  Austrian Automobile Designer

    In 1934, he joined Ferdinand Porsche’s design bureau in Stuttgart and began work on the styling of the Volkswagen, the people’s car.Read More →

  • Tucker Viemeister (b.1948) American Product Designer

    Tucker Viemeister (b.1948) American Product Designer

    Tucker Viemeister graduated from Yellow Springs High School in 1966, went to two different colleges. He ended up studying industrial design at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, from which he graduated with a degree in industrial design in 1974.ย Read More →

  • Elio Martinelli (1922 – 2004) Italian Lighting Designer

    Elio Martinelli (1922 – 2004) Italian Lighting Designer

    He and others founded a lighting company in 1942. In 1956, he founded the lighting firm Martinelli Luce in Lucca, designing plastics and metal and producing a perspex hanging lamp published in La Rivista dell’ Arredamento.Read More →

  • Perry King (b. 1938 ) British industrial, graphic and product designer

    Perry King (b. 1938 ) British industrial, graphic and product designer

    He worked at Olivetti, where he designed office machinery, starting in 1956. He collaborated with Hans Von Klier on C. Castelli’s corporate design program. He was designing dictating machines for Sรผd-Atlas Werke in Monaco and electronic apparatus and control systems for Praxis in Milan.Read More →

  • Michael Graves (1934 – 2015) – American architect and industrial designer

    Michael Graves (1934 – 2015) – American architect and industrial designer

    Alessi Design Collection Michael Graves (1934 โ€“ 2015) was an architect and industrial designer from the United States. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and lived and worked in Princeton, New Jersey. Read More →

โค๏ธ Receive our newsletter

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.