Boldt, Melvin H.

Carroll Gantz
Birth/Death Age: 
Melvin H. Boldt

U.S. industrial designer born in Chicago who attended the Armour Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology) but left after two years to go to work at Bendix Home Appliances, Inc. in South Bend, Indiana. He designed for military needs in the 1940s during WW II and then after the war as product stylist for major household appliances, including the famous Bendix post-war washer with its distinctive large porthole window in front. In 1947 he returned to Chicago to partner with John Morgan, who had headed design at Sears, Roebuck &anp; Co. In 1952, Boldt opened his own firm, Mel Boldt & Associates in Chicago's Palmolive Building, but moved in 1969 to Mount Prospect to be closer to his most important client, Zenith. For Zenith, Boldt's firm designed Transoceanic radios, the first TV remote control, and clocks and video recorders. For another client, Amana/Raytheon, Boldt designed the first Radarange microwave oven and many refrigerators. For National Presto Industries, Boldt designed countless blenders, toasters, coffee percolators, irons, and specialty products like the hamburger press, egg cooker, butter melter, vertical grill, and cordless rechargeable toothbrush. Other clients included Rowe/AMI, Bausch & Lomb, Spartus and Schick Personal Care. His normal staff included about 15 designers. Boldt also owned an off-site model shop that produced high quality prototypes. The success of his firm afforded Boldt a lifestyle of golf, fine cars, and impeccable suits. Since 1968, he was listed as among the "Ten Best Dressed Men in America" by the Custom Tailor's Guild. The Boldt firm was one of the most successful design firms in the Midwest during the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Over the years, Boldt employed hundreds of designers. The Boldt firm dissolved in the 1980s when Zenith brought design in-house, and many Boldt employees left to work for Zenith. After Boldt's death, the office survived until 1989 under the management of key employees.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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