Brooks Stevens

Year inducted: 2005
1911-1995

Clifford Brooks Stevens studied architecture from 1929 to 1933 at Cornell University, but returned to Milwaukee where his skills as a designer and businessman emerged. Despite his awareness that major designers such as Raymond Loewy, Walter Teague and others had offices in New York City, Brooks decided to open his own office in Milwaukee in July of 1935. Within a few years he courted and secured dozens of clients, most of them from Greater Milwaukee and the Midwest. He became the only Midwestern founder of the Society of Industrial Designers and was the first such designer to be given a one-person museum retrospective in 1950, this at the Milwaukee Art Institute. Another major posthumous exhibition of his work was held at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2004, which secured the knowledge of his place as a major figure in Wisconsin art. He is known for having coined the term “planned obsolescence.” The thousands of designs by his firm include the Hiawatha streamliner, Studebaker cars, the Excalibur auto, flying boats, Evenrude outboard motors, radios, clothes irons, bikes, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, and so much more. In his later years, Brooks became associated with the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design as a lecturer, where an art gallery now bears his name.

Works by Brooks Stevens