Walter Dorwin Teague

Kodak Partnership

Walter Dorwin Teague’s first huge contract was with Kodak. Interestingly this partnership began in the late 1920s/early 1930s when the country was on the brink of crisis, on the verge of the Great Depression, and in between two world wars. As I wrote in Teague’s bio: “Why, one might ask, was a company like Kodak so successful even when Americans were lacking resources and money? Because the money that people did choose to spend would have been narrowed down to the things that were most important to them. With family becoming increasingly more important, and war on both horizons, Kodak was extremely successful because people wanted photographs to hold the people they loved dearly ‘forever.’ That is why some of the most popular cameras ever designed by Teague were meant for family use. ‘The most spectacular of all the box cameras was… designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, the Beau Brownie. The Beau Brownie was made in two sizes and came in five colors with a modern deco two-tone pattern on the face and box. During the Christmas season of 1930 a Gift Kodak was offered, in a cedar wood presentation box, with matching deco design,’ (Steller, 2004). Teague captured the American spirit in Art Deco cheerfulness, wrapped up for Christmas morning, ready to take the perfect family photo. It’s no wonder that Kodak came back for his expertise the rest of his life.”

As exemplified in the sketches below, Teague successfully patented many of the camera designs that were to be used with Kodak, creating pieces so beautiful and Art Deco, that they are highly sought after as vintage prizes today. Many of them came in an array of bright colors, with names suited for certain young audiences who went wild after these products. For example, one set of Brownie cameras was named after Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and tugged at the heartstrings of patriotic parents who wanted to document their child’s brave accomplishments through photography. But these cameras weren’t just beautiful or strategically branded, they were made to last, with nice sturdy material. Every camera was solid, and included a leather strap at the top. In such hard times, people could not afford to buy anything unpractical. Through this piece, we are able to grasp that Teague had a focus on user experience and necessity (above all else) far ahead of his time.

Walter Dorwin Teague, Kodak Camera Patent, 1930s

Walter Dorwin Teague, Kodak Camera Patent, 1930s

Walter Dorwin Teague, Kodak Camera Patent, 1930s

Walter Dorwin Teague, Kodak Camera Patent, 1930s

 

Sources:

http://www.brownie.camera/more/walter_dorwin_teague.htm

http://collection.sciencemuseum.org.uk/objects/co8204962/kodak-beau-brownie-no-2-box-camera-rollfilm-camera