Inside the Collection

The future of Sydney’s transport – a view from the 1940s

Ilustraion of a future transport mode by Charles Frederick Beauvais
97/195/1-1/18 Pencil drawing, ‘Aerobus’, paper/pencil, Charles Frederick Beauvais, Sydney, 1945. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Why not a helicopter from Wynard to Town Hall? Charles Frederick Beauvais, an illustrator and industrial designer came up a with a variety of futurists transport solutions for Sydney in the 1940s. In this drawing of a futuristic Sydney he shows an helicopter bus service from Wynard Station to Sydney suburbs. The aerobus in the centre of the drawing has a sign ‘Mosman ‘on the front. This image appeared in Pix magazine, 15 December 1945, as part of an article titled, ‘Atomic Age, artist foresees New Transport Methods’.

Today we are familiar with cars, toasters, and even staplers that have the streamlined shape introduced to industrial design in the 1930s. The international futurist movement included US designers Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes and Henry Dreyfuss. These futurists were influenced by aerodynamics and streamlining and applied these principles to their designs in a broad range of areas from the domestic to the industrial. They had a vision of a technological Utopia.

An Australian interpreter of this design aesthetic was Charles Frederick Beauvais. Originally from England, Beauvais areas of interest were automobile design, transport systems and product design. He moved to Sydney in the mid 1940s and established his own industrial design company called ‘Industrial Styling Company – Australasia’.

Newspaper clipping, 'Sydney A Double-Decker City?', The Sydney Morning Herald, paper
98/44/1-5/17 Newspaper clipping, ‘Sydney A Double-Decker City?’, The Sydney Morning Herald, paper, Charles Frederick Beauvais, Australia, 22 September 1945 After Treatment, front view. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

During the 1930’s Beauvais had developed his concept of the ‘Car of the future’. In 1936 he built a streamlined scale wooden model.

Model, one half of the 'Car of the Future', wood, Charles Frederick Beauvais, England, 1936
Model, one half of the ‘Car of the Future’, wood, Charles Frederick Beauvais, England, 1936. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

He created a number of futuristic industrial designs including a rear engined ‘Car of the future’ in about 1946 and a model of the ‘City of the Future’, which was exhibited at the 1947 Royal Easter Show.

Photographic print, b&w, Atlantic Union Oil 'City of the Future' exhibition at Royal Agricultural Show
97/195/1-2/4 Photographic print, b&w, Atlantic Union Oil ‘City of the Future’ exhibition at Royal Agricultural Show, paper, designed Charles Frederick Beauvais

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