Chauncey Eugene Waltman, FIDSA

Chauncey Eugene 'Chick' Waltman (1896-1962)

US industrial designer born near Columbus, Indiana, the son of a minister. The family moved several times to Ohio and Michigan and ended up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he began working in the decorating department of the Berkery and Guy Furniture Company. By 1912, at age 16, he started a decorating department at the Imperial Furniture Company.

            After High School he took a job in Chicago with John A. Colby and studied decorating and furniture design at night school, but when World War I began in 1917, he joined the Air Force, trained in aerial photography, and became a second lieutenant. But the war was over and he returned to night school in Chicago. He soon got a job as a lamp designer for Valentine and Seaver, and later with the Art Lamp Company and the Kaplan Lamp and Shade Company.

            In 1924, he made a deal with Kaplan to go to Paris to study art, while receiving his weekly salary of $150 and spending two days a week drawing lamp designs in the new Paris styles and sending them to Kaplan for manufacture. For about a year, he studied at the Grande Chamber des Arts. When he returned to Chicago in 1925, he set up his own freelance office, designing lamps and furniture. After industrial design became well known in the 1930s, his office would participate as Waltman Associates at 165 Chicago Avenue.

            In 1938, he and other Chicago designers formed the Chicago Society of Industrial Designers, which limited member designs only to the design of products for mass production.  After World War II, Waltman’s son, Charles ‘Chubb’ Waltman joined the firm which moved to 310 E. Chicago Avenue. By 1955, Waltman Associates, headed by ‘Chick’, designed a sewing machine for Sears and a three- way mixer for Nutone. The office operated until about 1960.

Excerpted from “Designers of the Machine Age” by Carroll Gantz, to be published 2014 by McFarland & Company, Inc.