Letting Off Steam

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Steam Punk is the retro fitting of retro fits. It is ironic nostalgia for the Victorian past – the complexity of old steam-run machinery. The great turbines that ran the early technologies are now mere chips. But one thing remains the same: Steam furnaces. They may look a bit more sleek – more like refrigerators than boilers – but they fundamentally operate the same way (chips and all). Here is an example of the grand daddy of Steam Punk: The Fuller & Warren Co. Steam Hot Water and Combination War Air and Hot Water Heaters (a boiler by any other name) in various models to choose from.

Look at the beauty of the flow pipes, ducts, fans, ash pits and valves – a nightmare for some a dream for the HVAC professional. Or as A.G. Wigglesworth of Palmyra, N.Y., modestly wrote to the F&W Co. “I would cheerfully recommend it to any one wanting a good heater.”

(Go here to read about Frank Reade, a Steampunk granddad.)

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →