A more modest concurrent public relations and client sales approach was to "clean up" fussy, engineering-inspired design of the past. Here again, the results would be stronger sales in an era of depressed economy.
Theory and ideology aside, most designers recognized by mid-decade that to some extent they were in the fashion business because clients were soon asking them to "freshen" or even redesign products that had been touted as being purely function-driven.
As for streamlining, aircraft increasingly were becoming strongly streamlined, especially those made of metal. By around the 1934 model year, automobiles began to be designed with reference to serious concerns for aerodynamic efficiency (as they are to a far greater degree now). A famous case in point was the 1934 Chrysler Airflow.
But for various reasons, not all cars were given more than superficial streamlining in those days. Often streamline-like decor was added to provide a sense of streamlining. Furthermore, industrial designers and architects also included hints of streamlining in buildings and products.
In this post, I present examples of "speed lines" -- parallel ornamentation shapes suggesting airflow passing along or over the basic shape of the object. A fad, but in retrospect, a fun and basically harmless one.
Modest speed lines can be seen along the side of the hood and rear wheel skirt.
Speed lines here are more elaborate, being found on front and rear fender valances and atop the hood.
By Norman Bel Geddes. This unused proposal featured grooves along most of the car.
By Raymond Loewy. Multiple, stacked bumpers also serve as speed lines.
An addition to some actual streamlining at the front of the boiler section, Loewy added speed lines wrapping around the front and sides. That's Loewy in the photo.
An early Loewy design with vertical speed lines.
Designed by John Gordon Rideout and Harold van Doren. Plenty of parallel lines along with some skyscraper-inspired massing of the body. Photo from Brooklyn Museum.
By Walter Dorwin Teague. More than most early industrial designers, Teague liked parallel speed line décor.
Streamlining is evoked here in the curved shapes associated with the overhang. Speed lines wrap around the building.
Now it's the early 1940s, but Chrysler stylists gave their 1942 model one final, heavy, pre-war dose of speed lines.