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Gerald Gulotta Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University


Finding aid created by: mbd
Date: 20 Sep 2013



Biographical History

Gerald D. Gulotta (b. 17 Apr 1921) is an American industrial designer and educator. Specializing in the design of functional objects of glass, porcelain, ceramic, silver and stainless steel, Gulotta was also deeply engaged with the formal teaching of design, serving on the faculty at the Pratt Institute in New York (1955-1985) and consulting on design education around the world.

Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Gerald Gulotta studied advertising art at the Academy of Applied Art in Chicago. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II as part of the 13th Special Service Company assigned to the Eighth Air Force in England. The duties of the 13th Special Service Company were to support troop morale in various ways including having a small band for popular music, accompanying individual performers, encouraging available talents to take part in programs, providing a system for playing records outdoors, comedians if possible, and maintaining a small library and collection of sports equipment for use by soldiers. During training at Fort Meade, Maryland Gulotta was graphic designer and later editor for CHIN UP, the Company's weekly newsletter, and while stationed in England he served as artist/designer for spaces and buildings including bars for servicement's clubs an an altar-rail for a chapel.

After his tour of duty in the Army Gulotta attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, studying design under the innovative design teacher Alexander Kostellow. Kostellow, a seminal figure in industrial design education in America, had created an Experimental Design Laboratory at Pratt in 1952, based on a principle of close collaboration between design students and commercial production operations, a principle that would later be reflected in Gulotta's own innovations in applied design curriculum in Portugal (1974) and Guadalajara, Mexico (1976-1977). Gulotta began as an instructor at Pratt in 1955, originally taking over the Ceramics class after the retirement of Eva Zeisel, another formative figure in Gulotta's development as a practicing designer. In 1970, Gulotta was named Adjunct Professor of Industrial Design, a position he held until 1985. It was during his tenure as Adjunct Professor that Gulotta became engaged as a design education consultant abroad, contributing to foundational programs in Portugal (Industrial Design Workshop 1974), Guadalajara, Mexico (1976, 1977) and lecturing at several prominent Chinese universities at the behest of the China National Arts and Crafts Corporation (1982).

As a practicing designer, perhaps some of Gulotta's most striking early works were the sterling silver pieces he designed for manufacture by the Towle Silversmiths in the early 1950s, or his award winning sterling silver flatware entry for the International Design Competition Sterling Silver (1960). The initial phase of his career saw Gulotta making forays into small scale outdoor architectural structures (Children's Outdoor Playhouse and the Leisure Cube of 1957), fiberglass furniture designs, and, most indicative of his future course, his Lucent melamine dinnerware (1952) and ceramic glass cookware (1962) done for Raymond Loewy, Inc. Gulotta's rise to prominence came in the mid-1960s, where development of a number of highly successful porcelain dinnerware lines for Block China— España (1965), Transition (1967), Creation (1968), Hearthstone (1968)— served to solidify his reputation as an artist-designer with broad appeal in the commercial market. Perhaps Gulotta's most successful design line, and certainly his most recognized, was the Chromatics collection with Block China (1970). The "highly personal and sculptural" collection, as he described it, that included dinnerware, flatware and glassware components marketed in several complementary color combinations, was manufactured by Porzellanfabrik Arzberg in Germany. Representative examples of Chromatics pieces currently reside in the permanent collections of The Newark Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Gulotta continued to develop successful dinnerware lines for Block China, including Harmony (1983), Optics (1985) and Porto (1985). It was also during the 1980s that Gulotta began to develop designs for lead crystal and glass for production by Atlantis and Steuben, lines which he continued to advance through the 1990s. In 1987, at the invitation of the China National Arts and Crafts Corporation, Gulotta designed an exclusive collection of miniature stoneware teapots for the Violet Sand Factory in Yixing, China. Seven of the "Yixing teapots" designs were selected for limited edition manufacture, examples of which now reside in the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Other notable later period works by Gulotta include a line of giftware for Royal Doulton (1980), a series of sculptural ceramic bowls and vases with Ceramica São Bernardo in Portugal (1984-1988) and several striking flatware designs— Iona (1979), Eros (1994-1995) and Rondure (1996). In 2001, Gulotta designed the Floris porcelain dinnerware line for Tienshan, Inc. in China, and in 2006 his 26th Street line, also for Tienshan, appeared.


Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Gerald Gulotta Papers includes professional papers, teaching papers, sketches, design development drawings, working drawings, presentation drawings, published materials, portfolios, photographs and writings.

Professional papers contains awards, biographical statements, clippings, photographs, reference files and writings.

Faculty papers contains China lectures, course material, industrial design workshop (Portugal), Pratt industrial design, student projects, University of Guadalajara.

Office records consists of portfolios and published material.

Project records (design projects) includes drawings and photographs.

Memorabilia contains issues of CHIN UP, a newsletter produced by the 13th Special Service Unit at Fort Meade, Maryland during World War II.


Arrangement of the Collection

The material in this collection is arranged alphabetically by title, type or topic.


Restrictions

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.


Subject Headings

Persons

Gulotta, Gerald.

Corporate Bodies

Pratt Institute.
United States. -- Army Service Forces. -- Special Service Division.

Subjects

Cookware -- Design and construction.
Dinnerware -- Design and construction.
Flatware -- Design and construction.
Industrial design -- Study and teaching.
Industrial design -- United States.
Industrial designers -- United States.
Tableware -- Design and construction.

Places

Fort George G. Meade (Md.)

Genres and Forms

Articles.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Design drawings.
Lectures.
Newsletters.
Photographs.
Presentation drawings.
Sketches.
Slides (photographs)
Trade catalogs.
Working drawings.
Writings.

Occupations

Industrial designers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Gerald Gulotta Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Gerald Gulotta, 2011, 2014.


Table of Contents

Professional Papers circa 1949-2003

Faculty papers 1952-1982

Office records

Project records for design projects 1950-2008

Memorabilia


Inventory