Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Raymon Loewy


Raymond Loewy

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Raymond Loewy
Loewy standing on one of his designs, the Pennsylvania Railroad's S1 steam locomotive
Born November 5, 1893
Paris, France
Died July 14, 1986 (aged 92)
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Cause of death Illness
Resting place Rochefort-en-Yvelines Cemetery, Rambouillet, France
Citizenship France, United States
Education University of Paris
Occupation Industrial designer
Years active 1909–1980
Notable work(s)
  • Slenderized Coca-Cola bottle
  • Streamlined Greyhound bus
  • JFK postage stamp
  • Lucky Strike cigarette package
  • Locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • The interiors of NASA's Saturn I, Saturn V, & Skylab
  • Sears Coldspot refrigerator
  • Schick electric razors
  • Several Studebaker models
  • Logos for Chubb Corp., Exxon, Greyhound, Nabisco, Shell, and the U.S. Postal Service
Religion Catholic Church[1]
Spouse(s) Jean Thompson Bienfait[2]
(m. 1931–1945; divorced)
Viola Erickson
(m. 1948–1986; his death)
Children Laurence Loewy
  • Maximillian Loewy
  • Marie Labalme
Raymond Loewy (November 5, 1893 – July 14, 1986) was a French-born American industrial designer who achieved fame for the magnitude of his design efforts across a variety of industries. He was recognized for this by Time magazine and featured on its cover on October 31, 1949.[3]
He spent most of his professional career in the United States. Among his designs were the Shell, Exxon, TWA and the former BP logos, the Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, Coca-Cola vending machines, the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 and S-1 locomotives, the Lucky Strike package, Coldspot refrigerators, the Studebaker Avanti and Champion, and the Air Force One livery. His career spanned seven decades.

Life and work

Loewy was born in Paris in 1893, the son of Maximilian Loewy, a Viennese journalist, and his French wife, Marie Labalme. An early accomplishment was the design of a successful model aircraft, which then won the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1908. By the following year he was selling the plane, named the Ayrel.
He served in the French army during World War I, attaining the rank of captain. Loewy was wounded in combat and received the Croix de guerre.

Early work

In Loewy's early years in the U.S., he lived in New York and found work as a window designer for department stores, including Macy's, Wanamaker's and Saks in addition to working as a fashion illustrator for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. In 1929 he received his first industrial-design commission to contemporize the appearance of a duplicating machine by Gestetner. Further commissions followed, including work for Westinghouse, the Hupp Motor Company (the Hupmobile styling), and styling the Coldspot refrigerator[4] for Sears-Roebuck. It was this product that established his reputation as an industrial designer.
He opened a London office in the mid-1930s that continues to operate.[5] Loewy's father was of a famed Jewish lineage,[6] but Raymond was raised in the Catholic faith of his mother.[1] Though he downplayed this aspect of his heritage, Loewy hired many Jewish designers fleeing Nazi Germany at his firm.[7]

Pennsylvania Railroad

In 1937, Loewy established a relationship with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his most notable designs for the firm were their passenger locomotives. He designed a streamlined shroud for K4s Pacific #3768 to haul his newly redesigned 1938 Broadway Limited. He followed by styling the experimental S1 locomotive, as well as the T1 class.
Later, at the PRR's request, he restyled Baldwin's diesels with a distinctive "sharknose" reminiscent of the T1. While he did not design the famous GG1 electric locomotive, he improved its appearance by recommending welded construction rather than riveted and added a pinstriped paint scheme to highlight its smooth contours.
In addition to locomotive design, Loewy's studios performed many kinds of design work for the Pennsylvania Railroad including stations, passenger-car interiors, and advertising materials. By 1949, Loewy employed 143 designers, architects and draftsmen. His business partners were A. Baker Barnhart, William Snaith and John Breen.[8]


Raymond Loewy's 1930s era Studebaker logo.
Loewy had a long and fruitful relationship with American car maker Studebaker. Studebaker first retained Loewy and Associates and Helen Dryden as design consultants in 1936[9]:[p.247] and in 1939 Loewy began work with the principal designer Virgil M Exner.[9][10] Their designs first began appearing with the late-1930s Studebakers. Loewy also designed a new logo which replaced the "turning wheel" which had been the trademark since 1912.[9]
During World War II, American government restrictions on in-house design departments at Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler prevented official work on civilian automobiles. Because Loewy's firm was independent of the fourth-largest automobile producer in America, no such restrictions applied. This permitted Studebaker to launch the first all-new postwar automobile in 1947, two years ahead of the "Big Three." His team developed an advanced design featuring flush-front fenders and clean rearward lines. The Loewy staff also created the Starlight body which featured a rear-window system wrapping 180° around the rear seat.

1953 Studebaker Commander Starlight coupe
In addition to the iconic bullet-nosed Studebakers of 1950 and 1951, the team created the 1953 Studebaker line, highlighted by the Starliner and Starlight coupes. (Publicly credited to Loewy, they were actually the work of Robert Bourke.[11])
The Starlight has consistently ranked as one of the best-designed cars of the 1950s in lists compiled since by Collectible Automobile, Car and Driver, and Motor Trend. The '53 Starliner, recognized today as "one of the most beautiful cars ever made",[12] was radical in appearance, as radical in its way as the 1934 Airflow. However, it was beset by production problems.[12]
To brand the new line, Loewy also contemporized Studebaker's logo again by applying the "Lazy S" element. His final commission of the 1950s for Studebaker was the transformation of the Starlight and Starliner coupes into the Hawk series for the 1956 model year. The photo to the right actually shows a Starliner coupe which does not have the "C" pillar, but a window.


A concept sketch of the 1963 Avanti by Loewy.
In the spring of 1961, Loewy was called back to Studebaker by the company's new president, Sherwood Egbert, to design the Avanti. Egbert hired him to help energize Studebaker's soon-to-be-released line of 1963 passenger cars to attract younger buyers.
Despite the short 40-day schedule allowed to produce a finished design and scale model, Loewy agreed to take the job. He recruited a team consisting of experienced designers, including former Loewy employees John Ebstein; Bob Andrews; and Tom Kellogg, a young student from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The team was sequestered in a house leased for the purpose in Palm Springs, California. (Loewy also had a home in Palm Springs which he designed himself.[13]) Each team member had a role. Andrews and Kellogg handled sketching, Ebstein oversaw the project, and Loewy was the creative director and offered advice.

The 1963 Studebaker Avanti in a non-standard blue color and wheels.
The Avanti became an instant classic when it was introduced and has many devotees today; others consider its front end styling peculiar. Versions have been produced in limited quantities over the years by a succession of small independent companies, though never with real commercial success.

Death and legacy

Loewy retired at the age of 87 in 1980 and returned to his native France. He died in his Monte Carlo residence in 1986. He was survived by his second wife Viola and their daughter Laurence.


In 1992 Viola Loewy and British American Tobacco established the Raymond Loewy Foundation in Hamburg, Germany. The foundation was established to promote the discipline of industrial design internationally and preserve the memory of Raymond Loewy. An annual award of €50,000 is granted to outstanding designers in recognition of their lifetime achievements. Notable grantees include Philippe Starck and Dieter Rams.

Design center and museum

In 1998, Laurence Loewy established Loewy Design in Atlanta, Georgia to manage her father's continued interests in the United States. Laurence died on October 15, 2008 and is survived by her husband David Hagerman and their son Jacque Loewy. David Hagerman currently manages Loewy Design and the Loewy Estate. The Loewy Estate is currently cataloging the Loewy archives and raising funds to open the Raymond Loewy Museum of Industrial Design, originally envisioned by Laurence Loewy.[14]

Loewy designs


  • Ayrel aircraft, 1909


  • Gestetner mimeograph duplicating machine shell, 1929


A preserved Metro Van in 2012



Union News restaurants coffee shop, at the TWA Flight Center, Idlewild.

Le Creuset French Ovens.


The USCG Racing Stripe logo (1964).


Work in years or models unknown

Publications by Loewy


  • Bayley, Stephen. The Lucky Strike Packet (Design Classics Series), Art Books International Ltd (1998) ISBN 3-931317-72-2
  • Byars, Mel. "Loewy, Raymond" in American National Biography, American Council of Learned Societies (2000)
  • Porter, Glenn. Raymond Loewy Designs for the Consumer Culture, Hagley Museum and Library (2002) ISBN 0-914650-34-3
  • Schoenberger, Angela. Raymond Loewy: Pioneer of American Industrial Design, Prestel Publishing (1991) ISBN 3-7913-1449-1
  • Trétiack, Phillippe. Raymond Loewy and Streamlined Design, New York: Universe (1999) ISBN 0-7893-0328-0

See also


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b Facts page on Raymondloewy.com
  2. Jump up ^ Hagley Digital Images
  3. Jump up ^ Loewy on the cover of Time (October 31, 1949)
  4. Jump up ^ Coldspot Refrigerator
  5. Jump up ^ Loewy Group marketing agency
  6. Jump up ^ His father's family tree reads like a who's who of the great German Jewish leaders, prior to their forced emigration in the 17 Century. His great, great, great grandfather was a first cousin of Isaac ben Solomon Ashkenazi Luria, and also Maharal. Loewy himself was a direct descendent of Haim of Varmiza Loewy [1], the head of the Jewish community of Worms, Germany, and author of many original Jewish Children's stories including the first usage of the Golem myth. The majority of the Loewy family moved to Czechoslovakia in the mid 18 Century, and further east.
  7. Jump up ^ "The Streamlined Designer", November 4, 2010, Jewish Currents. Retrieved 2013.11.5
  8. ^ Jump up to: a b Up from the Egg, Time, October 31, 1949
  9. ^ Jump up to: a b c Hendry, Maurice M. Studebaker: One can do a lot of remembering in South Bend. New Albany: Automobile Quarterly. pp. 228–275. Vol X, 3rd Q, 1972.
  10. Jump up ^ Setright, L.J.K., "Loewy: When styling became industrial design", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 11, p.1211.
  11. Jump up ^ Automotive Design Oral History – "Reminiscences of Robert E. Bourke"
  12. ^ Jump up to: a b Ludvigsen, p. 2227.
  13. Jump up ^ Bloch, John, director and producer: Agronsky, Martin, host, (February 23, 1958). "Look Here. Raymond Loewy". NBC Television Presents, LCCN 96-507681
  14. Jump up ^ "MUSEUM SITES ARE BEING STUDIED". www.loewymuseum.org. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  15. Jump up ^ "Hughes' Stratoliner". Planeboats.com. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  16. Jump up ^ "Hallicrafters S-38 shortwave radio made in 1946". Arsmachina.com. Archived from the original on 2005-12-30. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  17. Jump up ^ "DESIGNED TO TRAVEL; Curating Relics of T.W.A. As It Prepares for Departure". New York Times. June 07, 2001.
  18. Jump up ^ DF-2000 line of modern furniture that combined the feel of home and office, Raymond Loewy DF-2000 cabinet
  19. Jump up ^ American Treasures of the Library of Congress, Design drawing for Exxon logo by Raymond Loewy
  20. Jump up ^ "SPAR". Raymond Loewy Foundation. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  21. Jump up ^ "Celebrate America this July with Gary Kollberg's Exhibit at the Farmington Library". Farmington Library of Art, Farmington CT, July 2009.
  22. Jump up ^ "What's in a name? Scope Arena, Norfolk". The Virginian Pilot, Pilotonline.com, Patrick Wilson, March 23, 2009.

External links