Thomas Lamb

Thomas Lamb

Thomas Lamb (1896 – 1988) was an American industrial designer. He is best known for his innovative handle designs closely modeled on the mechanics of the human hand. [ Delphia, Rachel E., Design to enable the body : Thomas Lamb's wedge-lock handle, 1941-1962 (2005) ]


Lamb was born in New York City on September 18, 1896. From the age of 14, he apprenticed himself to a plastic surgeon, doing medical drawings in exchange for anatomy lessons, and worked in a textile design shop. In the evenings he studied figure drawing and painting at the Art Students League of New York. Lamb also studied merchandising at Columbia University. This combination of anatomy, art, and business was integral to Thomas Lamb's career as a designer. [ [ The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation ] ]

Textile Design

At seventeen, Thomas Lamb opened his own textile design firm, specializing in advertising, fashion, and magazine illustration. His bedspreads, napkins, and draperies became very popular in the 1920s and were featured in many of the New York Department stores including Lord & Taylor, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Children's Books and Commercial Tie-ins

In 1924 he began illustrating children's books, including "Runaway Rhymes", "The Tale of Bing-O", and "Kiddyland". Shortly after his success with Runaway Rhymes, Lamb signed a contract with Good Housekeeping magazine to illustrate a series of Kiddyland cartoons. Lamb developed an extensive line of tie-ins, including Kiddyland textiles, soaps, and talcum powder. There was even a Kiddiegram designed for Western Union and endorsed by Shirley Temple.

The Effect of the War

Like many other U.S. designers, Lamb re-examined his design philosophy during the Second World War. Among his first responses to the economic and social realities of the period were a line of Victory Napkins and the "Adolph the Pig" piggy bank, which was used to encourage the purchase of war bonds.

Like Charles and Ray Eames, Lamb noted the inadequacy of the crutches used by wounded and disabled veterans. Initially focusing on the armrest, Lamb quickly noted that the hand bore the main burden, and began to experiment with ways to redistribute the pressure and make the crutches easier to handle. After extensive study anatomical and medical textbooks he developed his Lamb Lim Rest crutch.

Becoming the "Handle Man"

Lamb applied the patents developed in designing the Lim Rest to cookware, cutlery, surgical tools, luggage, sports equipment, and industrial equipment. His designs culminated in his unique "Wedge-Lock" and "Universal" handles, and were a major influence on the Universal Design movement.By the late 1940s Thomas Lamb was known as the "Handle Man". In 1948 his work was featured at the Museum of Modern Art during the period when the design establishment were focused on Bauhaus-inspired functionality. This publicity led to contracts to produce a line of cutlery for Cutco and cookware for Wear-Ever.

Thomas Lamb died on February 2, 1988 at ninety-one years of age.


* Thomas Lamb's [ papers] at Hagley Museum and Library
* [ Digital exhibit on Universal Design] Features items from the Lamb Papers at the Hagley Museum and Library


External links

* [ Theatre Historical Society of America]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thomas Lamb (disambiguation) — * Thomas W. Lamb (1871 1942), the American theater and cinema. * Thomas Lamb (1896 1988), textile and industrial designer, children s book illustrator …   Wikipedia

  • Lamb Air — IATA n/a ICAO n/a Callsign n/a …   Wikipedia

  • Lamb (surname) — Lamb is a surname, and may refer to*Alan Lamb, Australian sculptor *Allan Lamb, South African and MCC cricketer *Amanda Lamb, British television presenter *Annabel Lamb, British singer songwriter *Anthony Lamb, botanist *Barry Lamb, British… …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas W. Lamb — This article is about Thomas W. Lamb, American theater designer. For the industrial designer, see Thomas Lamb Thomas White Lamb (1871 1942) was one of the foremost American theater and cinema architects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.… …   Wikipedia

  • Lamb, Thomas — (1871 1942)    The great theatre designer, known for his palatial interior décors, was born in Dundee, Scotland, and came to America at age 12. He studied architecture at Cooper Union Institute, then worked as a New York City building inspector… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • Thomas Green (general) — Thomas “Tom” Green (June 8, 1814 [Eicher, p. 265, and Warner, p. 117, cite January 8, 1814, as the birth date. His [ bin/fg.cgi?page=gr GRid=9071 gravestone] , Confederate Military History , vol. XV, p. 231, and Lamb… …   Wikipedia

  • Lamb — heißen die Orte in den Vereinigten Staaten: Lamb (Indiana) Lamb Township (Scott County, Arkansas) The Lamb, Insel Lamb bezeichnet außerdem eine englische Band, siehe Lamb (Band) Lamb ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Alfred William Lamb… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thomas de Quincey — (15 August 1785 ndash; 8 December 1859) was an English author and intellectual, best known for his Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821). [Horace Ainsworth Eaton, Thomas De Quincey: A Biography , New York, Oxford University Press, 1936;… …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas De Quincey — from the frontispiece of Revolt of the Tartars …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas F. Monteleone — (b. 1946) is an American science fiction author and horror fiction author. His first novel, Seeds of Change was the lead off title in the critically unsuccessful Laser Books line of science fiction titles (see for details), but he went on to… …   Wikipedia