When I was an 8 year old I began my novice design career by creating conceptual drawings for fallout shelters. You see, every other Tuesday or Wednesday in my little corner of Manhattan Island, the pulsating scream of menacing air raid sirens would blast away, filling my ears with dread. At P.S. 40, where I served out my primary school sentence, my classmates and I were required to either duck and cover under our desks or line up in a squat position throughout the hallways where fallout shelter signs were posted (there was also one on the seventh floor in my apartment building in Stuyvesant Town) like so many carnival show cards.
I figured since we were going to have to endure an actual thermonuclear world war where shelters would save our lives (we were always promised that these otherwise horrifying drills “could save your life”), then I might as well be stuck in one that was spacious and had a few cool amenities, so I designed my own on sheets of graph paper, featuring spas and playrooms and even a soda fountain. Of course, they never were mass produced; the plans were ultimately lost and eventually the fear of nuclear winter fizzled into various other nightmarish prospects that still haunt my addled mind in the middle of the night. Little did I know, however, that luxury fallout shelters were foremost in other peoples’ minds as well. One of the best was conceived by industrial designer Paul László for John D. Hertz in conjunction with the United States Air Force. His drawings puts mine to shame too. On the other hand, I’m glad we never had to use his or mine. Here we are. I hope László didn’t mind either.
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