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With the notable exception of Apple, America has largely ceased to be a design culture, yet from Art Deco to Mid-Century modern, the US once ruled the world. There is no better example of a quintessentially American product designer than Raymond Loewy, who combined the exuberance of consumer culture with the asceticism of modernism and applied this to elements from pencil sharpeners to locomotives.Like Apples lead designer, Loewy was not from America. He was born in France and travelled to New York after WWI, wearing only his officers uniform and carrying $40. Here are a dozen of our favorite examples of Loewy designs.

12 Classic Raymond Loewy Designs

Pleasure piers are a unique and interesting piece of architecture in that they are both whimsical and sinister. Inhabited bridges that lead nowhere and aren’t meant for ships to dock, they are often abandoned, creepy and decrepit, yet covered in brightly colored gadgets built for amusement. These piers are giant technological follies.One of the few remaining giant Victorian English pleasure piers burned down today. In fact a large proportion of them burned to the ground, which you might think is ironic, since they are surrounded by water. The sea breeze which was the reason they were built in the first place, as health promenades, is what makes them a fire hazard as winds fan the flames of timber buildings.

12 pleasure piers

The lack of design innovation in an economic environment which excluded innovators meant that Soviet Russian technology often lifted concepts directly from the West. Not just little things like microprocessors and computers, but massive projects like Superfortress bombers, the Concorde and even the Space Shuttle.

Top 10 Soviet Technology Ripoffs

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Apple is getting it in spades.For those that worry about Apple blazing a trail for others to copy less expensively, its not that simple. A product like the iPhone is heavily tooled rather than fabricated. The hole for the headphones is actually drilled. To do this, Apple have hogged the world’s supply of the type of high tech, multi-dimensional machine tool needed.While companies like Nokia may copy, they may not be able to get the same build quality, even if they want to. Vote on the most blatant copy and post tips in the comments.

12 biggest apple design ripoffs

Historically, military rations, comprised, in significant part, of cigarettes and alcohol, while the quantity of food was far less than today. Current US army field rations are ready to eat and focus on high energy foods including caffeine-infused gum, they must cost less than $7.25 per meal, survive for 3 years at 27 degrees C and after a 100 foot drop.Civilian rations are often far less bountiful, such as WW2 food rations current Cuban rations or the tiny hunk of bread that Gulag prisoners were given. Vote for which items are most striking.

12 different food rations

Machines designed to smash large tough items into small bits, including a machine that eats trees whole, and yes, a real bone crusher, that makes fertilizer from animal bones.

Industrial crushing machines

Ray guns originated in the US in the 30s, from shows like Buck Rogers. What makes them a particularly interesting object is that despite, for all practical purposes, having never existed, there is an almost endless variety of designs for toy ray guns, from around the world.Here are some of the best we could find. Most are for sale, and are posted without description, since the images speak for themselves.

23 stunning ray guns

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WTF is that? #12

July 16th, 2009 #link

wtf

What was in this case? It’s topical.



7 Responses to “WTF is that? #12”

  1. DanRR Says:

    It’s an ALSRC, Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container also referred as “rock box”.
    http://www.nasm.si.edu/events/apollo11/objects/apolloartifact.cfm?id=A19710814000

  2. Gaijiniji Says:

    Is it a case for holding radioactive material?

  3. admin Says:

    @Dan. Yes it is!

    And suitably impressive it is too. Often items designed to transport precious objects are disappointing wooden crates, but this box is absolutely perfect.

    If it had been made by a Hollywood prop designer I would have thought that it was too overblown. But its the real thing, and with its Swiss bank vault like protection it is a thing of beauty.

    Happy 40th birthday rock box that rocks!

  4. Ryan Says:

    This would be perfect for my collection of ch.. I mean porn. Just normal porn.

  5. BRUCE CREE Says:

    it’s one piece of my gf’s luggage (a container inside of a container)

  6. Mighty Mike Says:

    Right the first time. It’s the case used to bring back lunar rocks to Earth. Then again, I’m in the biz, so have a slight edge.

  7. Shawn Says:

    As a custom case designer by trade, I’m impressed. Altho I could do without the banding across the top, but if it makes them feel better, so be it. Pelican take notice!