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Alexandra Lange

Nothing Runs Like A...


From the files of my dissertation, Tower Typewriter and Trademark, a note about Deere & Company’s foray into the consumer market. Lawn tractors proved popular, but the attempt to ape Detroit’s something-for-everyone approach was as ill-fated as Ken Cosgrove’s decision to bring one to the Sterling Cooper office on Episode 6 of Mad Men.

The company colors were one element [industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss] and his team never questioned, feeling that John Deere green (on which the company had a patent) was a more potent symbol than their leaping deer trademark. The only time other colors were used was in the newly-organized lawn and garden tractor division. Launched in the early 1960s, the consumer products in this division were styled to look like miniatures of the agricultural tractors. In their second year, Dreyfuss suggested Deere follow the automotive industry and offer a variety of colors in hoods and seats. Spruce blue, sunshine yellow, plus orange, red, and white were offered for a year, then dropped. Everyone wanted their John Deere lawn tractor in green.



Posted in: Design History, Information Design

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Alexandra Lange Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.

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