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Arthur BecVar Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: BecVar, Arthur.
Title: Arthur BecVar Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1932-1990
Quantity: 0.25 linear ft.
Abstract: American industrial designer. Collection contains memorabilia, printed material and writings, much of it relating to BecVar's years as Director of Design for General Electric
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Arthur BecVar (1911-2003) was an American industrial designer. He received his BFA from Notre Dame University in 1933, an engineering certificate from Purdue University, and an MFA at the Institute of International Education, Charles University, Prague, Czechoslovakia (1933-1934). He spent more than thirty years with General Electric as their Director of Design, working on designs for major appliances and managing a staff of 50 at their Applied Research and Design Center in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a Fellow of the American Society of Industrial Designers (ASID) and served as its president, and was active in ASID and its successor the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) throughout his professional career.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Arthur BecVar Papers consists of memorabilia, printed material and writings. Much of it concerns General Electric's "Kitchen Center," designed and developed by BecVar and Robert Blee in 1957.

Memorabilia consists of awards and honors, biographical sketches, and photographs. Biographical sketches includes resumes, advertisements for BecVar lectures which including a brief bio, and printed items from General Electric. Also in this folder is an unsigned letter, presumably from BecVar, recounting memories of his staff and of a prank played on industrial designer Raymond Loewy. Most of the photographs are candid shots of BecVar but there are also formal portrait photographs and some GE publicity photographs.

Printed material consists of newspaper and magazine clippings as well as publicity material put out by GE. Some are about BecVar and his work, while other relate to General Electric kitchen appliances, such as the wall-mounted refrigerator, and "Kitchen of the Future." The GE material includes a photocopy of their "Builder's Handbook for General Electric Kitchen Center."

Writings consits of published articles, charts and drawings, and some handwritten notes on industrial design. Some of these are originals while others are photocopies.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Material is arranged alphabetically by series and subseries. No further arrangement has been done.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


BecVar, Arthur.

Corporate Bodies

General Electric Company. -- Appliance and Merchandise Dept.
General Electric Company. -- Applied Research and Design Center.


Industrial design -- United States.
Industrial designers -- United States.
Kitchen appliances industry -- United States.
Refrigerators -- Design and construction.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.


Industrial designers.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Arthur BecVar Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Arthur BecVar, 1992.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 12 Apr 2010
Revision history: 21 Mar 2013 - processed (MRC)

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Box 1 Awards and honors 1948, 1953, 1957 - includes certificate naming him a Fellow of the American Society of Industrial Designers
Box 1 Biographical sketches 1951, 1976, 1960, 1990, undated - includes resumes, biographical sketches, and unsigned letter (1990) to "Dear Ed" recounting memories of his staff at GE and a humorous prank played on "Lowey" (possibly Raymond Loewy, noted industrial designer) at an ASI meeting
Box 1 Photographs 1946, undated - candid shots of BecVar with various people; formal posed portraits; GE publicity photos
Printed material
Box 1 About BecVar 1932, 1955, 1960, 1963, undated - magazine and newspaper clippings, GE publicity items, etc.; includes a clipping from his student days at Notre Dame
Box 1 About GE 1956, 1976, undated - mostly about their kitchen appliances, including the "wall refrigerator" and "kitchen of the future"; BecVar is quoted in a few of them
Box 1 Miscellaneous undated - product rating form, executive evaluation form, etc.
Box 1 Articles and papers 1953, 1959
"Coordinating Design at the Executive Level," Advanced Management, 1963
"Coordinating Design Policy with the Major Company Departments," typescript, 1953
"Industrial Design's Challenge," photocopy of typescript, 1959
Box 1 Charts and drawings 1978, undated - design trends, design needs, product life cycle, industrial design investment; most are photocopies
Box 1 Notes undated - handwritten notes headed "Generalizations about ID"

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