American Style: Classic Product Design from Airstream to Zippo

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American Style: Classic Product Design from Airstream to Zippo
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1987
Photographed and written by Richard Sexton
Foreword by Walter Landor
Book design by Thomas Ingalls + Assoc.
Chronicle Books, 1987
136 pages; over 130 color and black/white photographs ISBN: 0-87701-392-6
$16.95 retail

Out-of-print: signed, collector copies available directly from Richard Sexton. Email for more information.


American Style is Richard Sexton’s first book. Conceived in the mid-1980s, it was published in the spring of 1987. At the time, Chronicle Books was a small press known for their illustrated books. American Style appropriated the format of a product design showcase to serve an alternative purpose: the crafting of a photo essay on popular American culture through its products. Though Sexton was quite serious about his choices for inclusion and felt that each was a legitimate example of design, engineering, and marketing excellence, also important was how each product had influenced and endeared itself with the American public. Products like Levi jeans, Weber grills, mid-60s Ford Mustangs, Frisbees, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles are defining elements of American culture. The essential concept of American Style was to celebrate these cultural artifacts.


“Sexton, a photographer, has produced a book that is fun to look at, fun to read, and fun to argue about.” – John Neary, Americana, December 1987

“…there is information of value to every American and there is something oddly comforting in going through this catalog of the furniture of our lives.” – American Heritage, December 1987

American Style is an iconographic look at contemporary American culture.” – Peter Turnbull, Scripps Howard News Service

“Even without the excellent color and black and white photographs of the well chronicled products, the foreword by Walter Landor and the introduction by Richard Sexton are something all American designers should read. Sexton has done excellent research into the products selected. “- Industrial Designers Society of America Newsletter, Design Perspectives, January 1989