We've highlighted the Damsels of Design before, that group of nine female designers hired by Harley Earl, GM's Design Veep, starting in the '40s and running into the '50s. But there's a new article up--commissioned by a Michigan-based Chevrolet dealership, of all things--providing more information on the women, all of whom were trained in ID and seven of whom were Pratt graduates. As the article reveals, Earl gave them free reign to engage in actual design, not just the frilly chick stuff your average 1950s male would consign them to:
The women started by designing color, texture and trim of interior fabrics shaping seats, door handles, armrests and steering wheels but soon were given the opportunity to take on more ambitious projects. Some of these more complicated design features included such items as a removable cosmetic case, a dictating machine that swung out from the glove compartment, plush floor carpeting, a removable transistor radio, custom leather straps in the trunk to keep groceries secure and a pre-cell era telephone.
Some of the more bold suggestions the team came up included a series of four slip covers to match the colors of the seasons, a three piece set of fiberglass luggage to complement the cars upholstery, toys magnetized to the back of the front seat to keep the kids entertained and a compartment for picnic supplies including a thermos to correspond to the cars color scheme.
Unsurprisingly, chauvinism won out in the end: Earl's successor axed all of them, citing some rather misogynistic principles. A shame, but at least from 1943 to 1959, nine women got to design some truly innovative concepts that would have improved the automobile, had the powers that be taken a better look.
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