A. Look at four famous examples of American design that featured on stamps. Do you have, or have you seen, any of these things? In which decade do you think they were created? Listen and check
American Design Classics
The Tiffany lamp—the 1890s
The Ford F-Series pick-up truck—the 1940s
The Barbie doll—the 1950s
The Love sculpture—the 1970s
1 In 1893, Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibited some of his stained-glass lamps at The World’s Fair in Chicago.
2 The F-Series pick-up truck, introduced in 1948, was the first post-World War II truck designed by the Ford Motor Company.
3 The first Barbie dolls, created by Ruth Handler and Jack Ryan, were produced in 1959 and sold over 350,000 in the first year.
4 In 1965, artist Robert Indiana had an idea for a painting with the word “LOVE” as the main focus.
B. Now listen to an audio guide for an exhibition about American design. Make notes about the following things.
1 Tiffany lamp
● Louis Comfort Tiffany
● George Inness and Samuel Colman
● the White House
● the Chicago World’s Fair
● the Art Nouveau Movement
2 The Ford F-Series pick-up truck
● new innovations and features
● popular with Americans
● 13 redesigns
● lightweight aluminum
3 The Barbie doll
● American girls in the 1950s
● Ruth Handler’s daughter
● Jack Ryan
4 The Love sculpture
● Robert Indiana’s idea
● break the word “love” up
● the Museum of Modern Art and the United States Postal Service
● Early 1970s sculptures
1 The Tiffany lamp
Louis Comfort Tiffany was an artist and designer who specialized in decorative arts like glass design, jewelry making, and metalwork. He began his career as a painter and he studied under George Inness and Samuel Colman. But then he became interested in glassmaking. In 1882, US president Chester Alan Arthur asked Tiffany to redesign a number of rooms in the White House. Tiffany repainted walls, changed wall paper, and added beautifully colored stained glass to gas lamps and windows throughout the house.
After this, Tiffany then turned his attention to designing common home objects like lamps and vases. In 1893, he exhibited some of his stained-glass lamps at The World’s Fair in Chicago. Soon after, he started producing the lamps commercially. His lamps and other home products were handmade by skilled craftsmen and they had complicated designs inspired by nature, including insects, flowers, and tree leaves. With his innovative designs, he became one of the leaders of the Art Nouveau movement. His beautiful lamps were popular with homeowners of the time and they are still considered an iconic American design today.
2 The Ford F-Series pick-up truck
The F-Series pick-up truck, introduced in 1948, was the first post-World War II truck designed by the Ford Motor Company. It had several innovations, for example it had a wide cab for the driver and new options like a windshield washer. Ford F-Series trucks were very popular with Americans looking for a reliable, but stylish vehicle to carry heavy loads or help with work on the farm. Over the years, the Ford F-Series has been redesigned 13 times including making it bigger, faster, more luxurious, and even fitting it with a special bed to sleep in. The latest Ford F-Series trucks are now made of lightweight aluminum. The original trucks were made of heavy and more expensive steel. This iconic American pick-up truck has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States since 1986—that’s more than 30 years. It’s difficult to stay at the top of the US auto industry, but Ford has found a way with the F-Series’ classic design and reliability.
3 The Barbie doll
Until the late 1950s, most American girls played with baby dolls, which often limited their imaginations. They only played the role of being mothers. At around the same time, Ruth Handler noticed that her young daughter was playing with paper dolls, giving them adult roles such as actresses or secretaries. On a trip to Europe, Ruth saw a doll with an adult figure in Germany. Handler had the idea that girls could expand their imagination and play-acting roles with a doll that looked like an adult. So she and engineer Jack Ryan redesigned the doll for the US market and called her Barbie. The first Barbie dolls were produced in 1959 and sold over 350,000 in the first year.
Barbie is still popular today, and billions have been sold around the world since 1959. Mattel, Inc., the company that produces Barbie, reports that 90 percent of American girls between the ages of three and ten have a Barbie doll.
4 The Love sculpture
In 1965, artist Robert Indiana had an idea for a painting with the word “LOVE” as the main focus. He decided to break the word up into two lines, putting the “LO” on top of the “VE.” He then changed the angle of the “O” a little, and an iconic American design was born. In fact, it became so popular that the Museum of Modern Art and the United States Postal Service asked the artist to create versions of his “LOVE” painting for cards and stamps. In the early 1970s, Indiana made a series of “LOVE” sculptures for display in public parks. The first of these “LOVE” sculptures was placed in New York City, on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Fifty-fifth Street. Other “LOVE” sculptures were placed in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Tokyo, and Singapore, as well as many other cities. Unfortunately, Robert Indiana didn’t make much money from his “LOVE” paintings and sculptures. He never signed his paintings or applied for copyright, so he didn’t have legal protection against the many imitations of his work.
Listen and choose a, b, or c.
1 Sean helped a little girl who had ____.
a left her toy panda on a train
b dropped her toy panda in the station
c lost her toy panda in the car park
2 Because of Google maps, Adrian no longer ____.
a use his car’s satnav
b plans his route in advance
c buys maps
3 Nick’s favourite detective is ____.
a a female detective in The Killing
b a make detective in The Bridge
c a female detective in The Bridge
4 Emma is going to buy a dress by Maggie Sottero ____.
a because she’s getting married
b although they’re expensive
c because she saw some in a magazine
5 Coleen considers she has been lucky ____.
a because she has never had a car accident
b on many occasions
c because she recently survived a car accident
1 b 2 b 3 c 4 a 5 b
I = interviewer, S = Sean
I Have you ever helped a stranger or been helped by a stranger?
S Yes, a few months ago, I was, um, I was catching a train home from work and I went past, um, a little girl with her two grandparents, and she was crying and she was really unhappy and I thought ‘Oh dear!’ but there’s nothing I can do, um, so I went into the station and I went up the stairs, over the bridge, um, down the other side, and then on the floor I saw, um, a little toy panda, and immediately I knew that that was the little girl’s panda and that’s why she was crying. Um, so I ran back up the stairs, over the bridge, um, out of the station and I saw the family in the car park. I could still hear the, the little girl crying, and I ran up and said, ‘Is this yours?’, um, and the little girl took it and the grandparents just said ‘Oh thank you, thank you, thank you’, so that was nice.
I = interviewer, A = Adrian
I Do you think we rely too much on technology?
A Ah, absolutely. I think we really, especially our mobile phones. Once upon a, I’ve travelled a lot, so I used to rely on maps and I would, you know, the night before, when I’m travelling, I’d map out where I was going to go and have it all in my head ready to go. Now I just pull out my phone and use Google maps.
I Are there any devices you just couldn’t live without?
A Er, yes, probably my mobile phone.
I = interviewer, N = Nick
I Do you like detective or mystery novels or TV series?
N Yeah, I have done, so I, um, I really like the Nordic noirs that were very popular a few years ago, so like The Killing and The Bridge especially I found really fascinating.
I Do you have a favourite author or detective?
N Er, yes but can I remember her name… It’s actually the one in The Bridge.
I Do you usually guess who the murderer is?
N Er, I’ll always try. Sometimes I get it, sometimes it’s too difficult, yeah.
I = interviewer, E = Emma
I Do you have a favourite designer?
E I’ve recently started wedding dress shopping and I really like the dresses by Maggie Sottero.
I Why do you like about her clothes?
E Er, the dresses are quite a vintage style, um, which is really flattering, and when I’ve tried them on, um, I think they’re probably the ones I’m going to go for.
I = interviewer, C = Coleen
I Do you think you are generally a lucky person?
C Yes, I do actually. I do think I’m lucky.
I Can you think of a time when you’ve been really lucky?
C Um, I can think of an awful lot of times when I’ve been really, really lucky. Um, I had a car accident many, many years ago, and even the police didn’t know how I’d got out of it alive, so I think that really says it all.
- Practice English Listening B1 Exercises – Opportunities
- Practice English Listening B1 Exercises – Entertainment
- Practice English Listening B1 Exercises – Information
- Practice English Listening B1 Exercises – House and home
- Practice English Listening B1 Exercises – Different cultures
- Practice English Listening B1 Exercises – The natural world