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Robert Davol Budlong
Robert Davol Budlong
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Budlong, Robert Davol

Carroll Gantz
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Robert Davol Budlong
Robert Davol Budlong

U.S. industrial designer born in Denver, Colo., studied art at Cummings School of Art in Des Moines, Iowa and graduated from Grinnell College, Iowa in 1921. He also studied art at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art and opened an advertising office in Chicago. He started his career in industrial design in 1933 with the Hammond Clock Company and began a relationship with Zenith in 1934-1935 as a consultant until his death. He designed many of Zenith's pre-war portable radios, and virtually the entire line for Zenith. His designs include a "universal portable" AC/DC radio with batteries (1940), the "Poket" radio in 1941, and the "Transoceanic Clipper" in 1942. Zenith tried several times to offer him a full-time job as a Zenith employee and head an in-house industrial design group, but Budlong wished to remain independent to retain other clients. However, he did relocate his offices to the building on 333 Michigan Avenue that housed Zenith's corporate showrooms. Other clients included Sunbeam, for whom he designed the transverse, two-slot, "radiant control" T-20 toaster (1950) that lowered bread automatically, and raised itself silently when done. It remained in production until 1995. He worked with Sunbeam staff designer Ivar Jepson on the compact Sunbeam "Shavemaster" (1950) electric shaver with a smooth rounded head, the first compact, ergonomic shape held in the palm of the hand, rather than the previous elongated shape held like a hammer. For the Cory Corporation he designed the 1954 "Crown Jewel" coffee maker. Other clients included Sears & Roebuck, Victor Cash Register, and Amana. Budlong's business was taken over after his death in 1955 by one of his associates, Ken Schory Sr. (d. 1991) and re-named Ken Schory Associates. Schory then partnered with Tom Steinbach (Schory-Steinbach Associates) which later became Creative Corporation, and in the 1970s under Steinbach (b. abt. 1921) alone, became Design Lab.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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