23
Apr
10

The Man Who Designed America [Via Life]


A Wonderful piece about Raymond Loewy, the “father” of modern design.
The Man Who Designed America

From Loewy’s official website [raymondloewy.com]

After a brief but promising career as a fashion illustrator, Raymond Loewy dedicated his talent to the field of industrial design. Loewy’s creative genius was innate, and his effect on the industry was immediate. He literally revolutionized the industry, working as a consultant for more than 200 companies and creating product designs for everything from cigarette packs and refrigerators, to cars and spacecrafts. Loewy lived by his own famous MAYA principle – Most Advanced Yet Acceptable. He believed that, “The adult public’s taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm.”

A popular lecturer as well, Loewy spoke at institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, and the University of Leningrad. He founded three design companies: Raymond Loewy and Associates, New York; Raymond Loewy International, London; and Compagnie de I’Esthetique Industrielle, Paris. His writings include The Locomotive: Its Aesthetics (1937), the autobiography Never Leave Well Enough Alone (1951) and Industrial Design (1951).

Raymond Loewy launched his career in industrial design in 1929 when Sigmund Gestetner, a British manufacturer of duplicating machines, commissioned him to improve the appearance of a mimeograph machine. In three days 28-year-old Loewy designed the shell that was to encase Gestetner duplicators for the next 40 years. In the process, he helped launch a profession that has changed the look of America.

The Gestetner duplicator was the first of countless items transformed by streamlining, a technique that Loewy is credited with originating. Calling the concept “beauty through function and simplification,” Loewy spent over 50 years streamlining everything from postage stamps to spacecrafts. His more famous creations include the Lucky Strike cigarette package, the GG1 and S1 locomotives, the slenderized Coca-Cola bottle, the John F. Kennedy memorial postage stamp, the interior of Saturn I, Saturn V, and Skylab, the Greyhound bus and logo, the Shell International logo, the Exxon logo, the U.S. Postal Service emblem, a line of Frigidaire refrigerators, ranges, and freezers, and the Studebaker Avanti, Champion and Starliner.

By 1951, his industrial design firm was so prolific that he was able to claim, “the average person, leading a normal life, whether in the country, a village, a city, or a metropolis, is bound to be in daily contact with some of the things, services, or structures in which R.L.A [Raymond Loewy Associates] was a party during the design or planning stage.”

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