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Schreck-Who? New Focus on a U.S. Designer

The name of designer Viktor Schreckengost is little-known to anyone but serious fans of design. But that may change this summer, when more than 100 museums around the world will mount exhibitions of his work to celebrate the 100th birthday of an American designer whose career arc includes Art Deco, bicycles, and cars.

If you've never heard of him, that's not surprising. Viktor Schreckengost labored as a product designer in the era before Martha Stewart and Michael Graves brought celebrity to industrial design.

But Schrekengost is a major figure in American art and design. He began as a ceramic artist. His Jazz Bowl, created for Eleanor Roosevelt, is considered a masterwork of Art Deco; Schreckengost's ceramic works were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

In the 1930's, Schrekengost began to pursue an interest in industrial design. He created the first modern mass-produced dinnerware for American Limoges.

He co-designed the first cab-over-engine truck. And he became the chief designer for Murray bicycles, creating the Mercury, which was displayed at the New York World's Fair.

Schrekengost went on to have a lasting influence as a teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he mentored many of Detroit's auto designers. Schrekengost, who plans to celebrate his 100th birthday later in June, is professor emeritus at the Cleveland Institute of Art. From member station WCPN, David C. Barnett reports.

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