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Egmont Arens Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: AMV
Date: Jul 1971

Biographical History

Egmont Hegel Arens, industrial designer, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on 15 December 1889, the son of Franz Xavier and Emma (Huegal?) Arens. He was a leading design pioneer in the fields of packaging and plastics and is credited with introducing "appetite appeal" in packaging design. From 1911 to 1914 he attended the University of New Mexico and in 1915-1916 the University of Chicago. Before beginning his career in design, he was a sports editor for the Albuquerque (N.M.) Tribune-Citizen, a bookseller in his own Washington Square Bookstore in New York's Greenwich Village (1917-1923), a salesman of fine printing produced by his own Flying Stag Press (1918-1927), and editor for the periodicals Vanity Fair (1922-1923) and Creative Arts (1925-1927), and the printer, publisher, and editor (1919-1925) of the artistic and literary periodical Playboy, which published works by D.D. Lawrence and Max Weber, among others.

In 1929 he entered the field of industrial design as the founder and director of the division of industrial styling at Calkins and Holden, and in 1935 he established his own New York design office. As an industrial designer his activities included product design, plastics research, product development, color consultation, office and industrial interior design, store planning, and package and trademark design. He designed business machines, electrical appliances, radios, furniture, toys, and boats for such diverse clients as Reynolds Metals, Philip Morris, A & P, and the Columbian Rope Company.

Egmont Arens was manager (1917-1920) and director (1920) of the Peoples Symphony Concerts in New York, which had been founded by his father. Besides serving as president (1929) of the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen, he was a member (1946) of the planning committee for the Center for Graphic Industries of New York University, president (1949-1950) of the Society of Industrial Designers, a member (1952) of the advisory committee of Pratt Institute, and a member of the United States delegation to the International Trade Fair, held in Liege, Belgium, in 1955. He was the co-author with Roy Sheldon of the 1935 book Consumer Engineering. From 1962 until his death he held the position of chairman of the board of Egmont Arens - DeRaffel, Inc. in New York. Egmont Arens died in New York City on 2 October 1966.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Egmont Arens Papers contain personal and business correspondence; business records; legal and financial records; organization records; original art, including layouts, plans and sketches; photographs and slides; published material, including books, clippings, labels, periodicals and reprints; and writings. The inclusive dates of these papers are 1883-1966; the bulk dates are 1930-1960.

The material is arranged under six major headings: Personal Correspondence, Industrial Design Records, Miscellany, Organization Records, Publication Records, and Writings. Material within each group is arranged either alphabetically or chronologically, as is material within subdivisions.

Personal Correspondence (1883-1966) contains the incoming and outgoing personal letters of Egmont Arens. There is also personal correspondence of members of Arens' family and his friends, among them Camille Davied Arens, Emma Huegal Arens, Josephine Bell Arens, Mathilde Zwilling Arens, Winifred B. Arens, Patricia Arens Cumming, and Margaret Laubenstein. Correspondence is arranged chronologically to the month. Undated correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the writer's name and is boxed immediately after the dated correspondence. Other correspondence is located elsewhere in these papers, especially in the industrial design section and boxes 29-30.

Industrial Design Records (1929-1966) contain materials relating to Arens' career as an industrial designer. The material is arranged in six subgroups:

The Client and Project File contains material generated by Arens in designing products of packaging on his own or for clients. Types of material include blueprints, clippings, correspondence, holograph notes, labels, layouts, news releases, patent applications and assignments, photographs, reports, and sketches. Of special interest is the folder "Diagram for Tomorrow" under Book Ideas which contains correspondence with Albert Einstein. Materials are arranged alphabetically by the name of the client or project and, within that are further subdivided by subject and type of document.

General Correspondence includes miscellaneous incoming and outgoing business letters which were originally located throughout the various files of the industrial design records. This correspondence is arranged chronologically.

The Office File contains materials relating to the operation of Arens' own design firms. Materials in this small file are arranged alphabetically by type.

Photographs and Slides are divided into three groups: Prints and Negatives, 35mm Slides, Lantern Slides. Prints and negatives are arranged alphabetically by names of client or subjects. Where there is more than one folder of photographs or negatives for a client, these are arranged alphabetically by subject. Thirty-five millimeter slides are divided into two groups according to the manner in which they were received: loose and boxed. Both groups are arranged alphabetically by subject. Because one box may contain slides of more than one subject, box and section numbers are indicated for each subject. The lantern slides, used by Arens to illustrate his lectures, are arranged alphabetically by his own general topic designations.

The Publicity File contains materials relating to the promotion of Arens' services as an industrial designer. This material is arranged alphabetically by type.

Writings contains writings in the field of industrial design, the greater portion by Arens himself. Materials are arranged alphabetically by author's name, then alphabetically by type. Articles, books and book reviews are arranged chronologically. Arens' lecture material is further subdivided by type. The manuscripts and correspondence section is arranged chronologically with undated articles arranged alphabetically at the end of that section. Notes and slide captions and background materials are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Miscellany (1901-1965) includes a melange of materials generated by the following people in addition to Egmont Arens: Camille Davied Arens, Emma Huegal Arens, Franz Xavier Arens, Josephine Bell Arens, Mathilde Zwilling Arens, Ralph Waldo Arens, Ruth Chrisman Arens, Patricia Arens Cumming, and J. Marie Egts.

Material is arranged alphabetically by individuals' last names, thereafter alphabetically by type of material or subject matter. Included are memorabilia, legal and financial records, diaries, photographs and negatives, medical records and a few pieces of correspondence. Titles of photographs and negatives in quotation marks on the shelf list are those given by Arens.

Organization Records (1936-1965) contains materials arising from Arens' membership in various organizations. It includes reports, minutes, membership lists, correspondence, and other similar material.

Publication Records (1918-1960) contains materials generated by Arens during his magazine editorial work and during the operation of his own Flying Stag Press. The material is arranged alphabetically by publishing house. Within the subsections on each publishing house, material is arranged alphabetically by type, and thereafter by author and/or title.

Writing (1915-1927) contains works by Arens and others on subjects other than industrial design. The material is arranged alphabetically by authors' names, thereunder by the type of work, and by the title.

Arrangement of the Collection

See Scope and Content, above.


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.

Related Material

The following items were removed from the collection and transferred to Rare Books for separate cataloging:

Subject Headings


Arens, Egmont, 1889-1966.
Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971.
Stout, Rex, 1886-1975.

Corporate Bodies

Columbian Rope Company.
Flying Stag Press.
Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.
J.C. Penney Co.
Reynolds Metals Company.


Art and industry.
Industrial design -- United States.
Industrial designers -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Blueprints (reprographic copies)
Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.
Lantern slides.
News releases.
Slides (photographs)


Industrial designers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Egmont Arens Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Egmont Arens.

Table of Contents

Personal correspondence

Industrial design records


Organization records

Publication records