Clifford Brooks Stevens (June 7, 1911-January 4, 1995) was an industrial designer, as well as automotive designer, graphic designer, and stylist.


Stevens was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on June 7, 1911. Stricken with polio as a child, Stevens father encouraged him to practice drawing while confined to his bed, perhaps motivating his career in design. He studied architecture at Cornell University from 1929 to 1933, and established his own home furnishings design firm in 1934 in Milwaukee.[1] His son, Kipp Stevens, runs the Brooks Stevens Design Associates.

Stevens died on January 4, 1995 in Milwaukee.

Planned obsolescence[]

Though he is often cited with inventing the concept of planned obsolescence (the practice of artificially shortening product lifecycles in order to influence the buying patterns of consumers in favor of manufacturers), he did not invent it but rather coined the term and defined it. Stevens defined it as, "Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary." His view was to always make the consumer want something new, rather than create poor products that would need replacing. There is some debate over his role in this controversial business practice.


His designs in home and kitchen appliances were popular, and he is recognized as being the start of the robins-egg blue phase of 50's kitchen appliances. He also practiced architectural design and graphic design. Of note is his design of the Miller Brewing logo.

As an automobile designer, Stevens was responsible for the Studebaker products (the Avanti was an exception) from the 1962 model year until Studebaker ceased production. He then designed the classic Harley-Davidson motorcycle. All Harleys since, including models in production now, are based on Stevens body designs.

Stevens designed the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, an American pop-culture icon. He designed engines for Briggs and Stratton and Outboard Marine Corporation. He also designed the university logo for the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in 1978 as a part of "The Diamond Jubilee" celebration. The logo continues to be in use today and serves as the symbol of the university. [2]

Stevens designed the post-war Skytop Lounge observation cars for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad's Hiawatha passenger trains.

Stevens founded, ran, and designed all of the automobiles for the Excalibur Motorcar Company.

See also[]

  • automotive design

External links[]