Creative Connection

California Dreamin’: How pioneering design across the pond became the new ‘Made In Italy’

From the 1960’s hippie movement to today’s Silicon Valley tech boom, California has solidified its status as the new centre of design; home to some of the best product, logo and fashion design to make its mark on the globe.

The golden state; known for it’s palm-tree filled skies and forward-thinking nature is continually innovating, with brands introducing products that are achievements of form and function and self-expression. From skateboards to blue jeans to the Hula Hoop, “Designed in California” is fast becoming the modern day ‘Made In Italy,’ a hallmark of superior quality for a whole host of gadgets and gizmos.

This summer, London’s Design Museum is celebrating these pioneering products in California: Designing Freedom, an exhibition that showcases some of the region’s most popular creations.

To celebrate, we’ve rounded up five of our favourite innovations from the Orange County on Adobe Stock. What are your favourite Californian inventions? Let us know in the comments section below.

The skateboard was invented in the 1940’s when surfers in California wanted something to do when the waves were down. The first manufactured skateboard was ordered by a Los Angeles Surf Shop that wanted to offer surfers an alternate hobby.

The modern day Hula Hoop was trademarked by Richard Knerr and Arthur “Spud” Mellin of company Wham-O. When the toy was first introduced in 1958 the company sold a staggering 25 million in the first four months alone.

Jack O’Neill of surfing company ‘O’Neills’ is credited with commercialising the first wetsuit at his surf shop in San Francisco, California. His inspiration came from the neoprene flooring of a DC-3 passenger plane.

Levi Strauss designed the first pair of blue jeans during the California Gold Rush of 1873, in answer to miners who needed clothing that would withstand the wear and tear of manual labour.

Ettore Steccone of Oakland, California, was a window washer who reinvented the “Chicago squeegee” – a bulky steel window cleaner that made it light and easy for window cleaners to use at great heights.

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