From his Obituary in the Milwaukee Sentinal January 5th 1995


Brooks Stevens, the pioneer industrial designer whose streamlined vision shaped our daily lives in ways as ordinary as Miller High Life beer cans, as extraordinary as the Hiawatha train and as whimsical as the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, died Wednesday. He was 83.

Stevens, of Mequon, was one of 10 industrial designers and the only non-Easterner who in 1944 founded the prestigious Industrial Designers Society of America. His firm, Brooks Stevens Design Associates, is based in Mequon.

Stevens' designs, which he produced for some 585 companies throughout the world, have become icons of 20th-century America. They include:

Cars: Stevens contributed to 46 automotive designs between 1940 and 1980. For Willys-Overland Co., he designed a civilian version of the war-born Jeep. Stevens designed all postwar Jeep station wagons, including the Jeep Cherokee.

He designed Studebakers, Volkswagens and Alfa Romeos. His Excalibur luxury touring car originally was a show car for Studebaker. When that company ceased operations in 1964, his sons formed the Excalibur Automobile Corp. of Milwaukee.

Trains: Stevens loved trains and designed everything from the locomotive to porters' uniforms and club car napkins for the Milwaukee Road's Pioneer, Hiawatha and Olympian Hiawatha, including the aerodynamic Skytop Lounge car.

Motorcycles: His 1950 design for Harley-Davidson Inc. is the model for today's Harley- Davidson Heritage Classic model.

Packaging: Stevens shaped Miller Brewing Co.'s corporate identity, developing everything from the company's logos, bottles and caps, trucks and even parade floats. It was Stevens who during the 1950s took Miller High Life cans from black to white to gold.

He developed and designed corporate identities for 3M Co., Cutler-Hammer Co., Allen-Bradley Co. and Briggs & Stratton Corp. and designed the first wide- mouthed peanut butter jar, for Holsum Foods of Waukesha.

Appliances: He made clothes dryers a marketable product in 1936 by adding a window to the machine as well as fluted panels and matching knobs for Hamilton Industries Inc. of Two Rivers.

He designed the first commercially successful steam iron and the first automatic wringers for washing machines. He was the first to design refrigerators with colors other than white.

His designs include the Insinkerator, portable grills, side-opening toasters, Mirro electric fryers and cookware and the first completely enclosed portable radios.

Farm equipment: The tractors he designed for Allis-Chalmers were so streamlined that he claimed farmers drove them to church on Sundays.

Lawn mowers: He designed the base and enclosure for the first rotary blade power motor and began designing gasoline engines for Briggs & Stratton in 1946.

Stevens said one reason he was so prolific is that he remained in the Midwest an abundant source of product manufacturers for virtually all of his life.


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