Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Diner Phone

Some years ago I worked on a series of novelty electronic items for Segan Animations and Telemania. They've been forerunners in novelty electronics for years and they still continue to come up with crazy concepts for telephones. The pleasure of designing stuff like this is in the attention to detail they put into them, and this was no exception.

I had initially done some design work on their Barbie telephone and clock radio, and they liked what I had done enough to bring me in on designing a phone that looked like an old mid-century dining car.
They provided me with the basic idea and how it would function. The roof of the diner would remove to become the hand set, while it revealed the interior of the diner.

Oh, and when the phone rings it plays Bill Haley's 'Rock Around The Clock'.

I spent some time researching different classic dining car diners, combining the classic elements like glass block, stainless steel, and using a palate of red, black and white.
I presented them with this marker rendering for inspiration, and they told me to run with it.

Once we had a defined look it was a matter of fleshing out the interior, which wasn't difficult from a design standpoint. I had already seen enough and had even eaten in a few of these kinds of dining cars because there were still a few around where I lived at the time.

I generated a 3/4 view of the inside, then added in some characters, since they felt it should have more personality.
Once again, I drew from archetypes of that era; a teenage boy and bobbysoxer holding hands and
sharing a malt, a traveling 'Fuller Brush' salesman, a jolly short-order cook, a counter waitress, and a policeman interacting with a mischievous kid.

I took details of the inside figures and generated larger turn-around drawings to give the sculptor something specific to work with.

A couple of years after I worked on this I ended up meeting the artist who did all the sculpting for this project. We both shared a laugh over the details that went into it, and he thanked me for providing him more than he needed to do the work.
The figures in this diner would only be about 3/4 of an inch tall.

Toward the end they decided the free-standing neon sign for "Joe's Diner" was a little much, so they asked me to generate a series of alternatives, one of which would be used on the diner itself so no base would be needed.
Here are some of the variations I came up with;

In the end this is what the final product looked like;

Here is the rendering for the Barbie clock radio I had done;

Of course there are always projects that never make it to the store shelf. The following is a rendering for a proposed "Wizard of Oz" Emerald City phone that, while fun, was simply too elaborate to be cost effective.

But I did have a lot of fun designing it.


Anonymous said...

I love that WoO phone SO much...


Anonymous said...

I drew from archetypes of that era; a teenage boy and bobbysoxer holding hands and sharing a malt, a traveling 'Fuller Brush' salesman.....

You know I'm not dead yet, right?

Dan The Fuller Brush Man