Henry Dreyfuss  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Henry Dreyfuss (March 2, 1904 – October 5, 1972) was an American industrial designer.



Dreyfuss was a native of Brooklyn, New York. As one of the celebrity industrial designers of the 1930s and 1940s, Dreyfuss dramatically improved the look, feel, and usability of dozens of consumer products. As opposed to Raymond Loewy and other contemporaries, Dreyfuss was not a stylist: he applied common sense and a scientific approach to design problems. His work both popularized the field for public consumption, and made significant contributions to the underlying fields of ergonomics, anthropometrics, and human factors. Until 1920 Dreyfuss studied as an apprentice to theatrical designer Norman Bel Geddes, his later competitor, and opened his own office in 1929 for theatrical and industrial design activities. It was an immediate and long-lasting commercial success. As of 2005 his firm continues to operate as Henry Dreyfuss Associates with major corporate clients.


Significant original Dreyfuss designs include:

Later life

In 1955 Dreyfuss wrote Designing for People, an autobiography which features his "Joe" and "Josephine" simplified anthropometric charts. In 1960 he published The Measure of Man, an ergonomic reference.

Dreyfuss was the first President of the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA).


On October 5, 1972, at their home in South Pasadena, California, Dreyfuss and his wife, Doris Marks, who was terminally ill, committed suicide. They were found in a car, killed by self-inflicted carbon monoxide poisoning. Earlier that year, Marks had been diagnosed with liver cancer. The design company, Henry Dreyfuss Associates, remains after his death.

References and Further Reading

Dreyfuss, Henry. Symbol Sourcebook: An Authoritative Guide to International Graphic Symbols. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 1984. ISBN 0471288721

Dreyfuss, Henry. Designing for People. Allworth Press; illustrated edition edition, 2003. ISBN 1581153120

Flinchum, Russell. Henry Dreyfuss, Industrial Designer: The Man in the Brown Suit. Rizzoli, 1997. ISBN 0-8478-2010-6

Innes, Christopher. Designing Modern America: Broadway to Main Street. Yale University Press, 2005. ISBN 0300108044

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Henry Dreyfuss" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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