Raymond Loewy – an American Designer

Raymond Loewy arrived in the United States in 1929, just in time for the great depression. As it happened the beginning of the depression was a fortuitous time for a talented designer with new ideas to arrive in the United States. The old design aesthetic was disappearing with the collapsing economy. Manufacturers wanted to stimulate demand for their products by offering customers new designs, and Loewy had an abundance of them with the ego to match. His mother had always told him, “It is better to be envied than pitied.”

“It is better to be envied than pitied.”

Raymond Loewy

His first design was that of the Gestetner duplicator, which would remain unchanged for 40 years. His Coldspot refrigerator with non-rusting aluminium shelves won an international design prize in 1937. More impressively, it won over hundreds of thousands of American consumers in the tough markets of the 1930’s.

Gestetner Duplicator by Raymond Loewy
Gestetner Duplicator by Raymond Loewy

There was the International Harvesters Truck, the first all-welded locomotive for the Pennsylvania Railroad. (He started with the railroads by designing rubbish bins.

He was accused of being a shell(skin) designer starting with the machine then enclosing it. He replied, “But in many cases the shell is essential.” A locomotive without a shell would be non-functional.

International Harvesters Truck by Raymond Loewy
International Harvesters Truck by Raymond Loewy
Locomotive the Pennyslyvania Line -by Raymond Loewye
Locomotive the Pennyslyvania Line -by Raymond Loewy

Loewy’s best known and most innovative and influential design was the 1953 Studebaker Starliner. It was a light simple, sleek design introduced when other cars were sprouting tail fins. He felt that he had alienated the design industry by suggesting that cars should be lightweight and compact.

Studebaker Champion by Raymond Loewy
Studebaker Champion by Raymond Loewy

By the time of his death, Loewy had outlived many of his designs. Raymond Loewy was not only an extraordinary designer but a highly successful businessman in a game with overtones of art. He was able to get Americans to consume. His approach to design at its core was simple,

Coldspot Refridgerator

“WhatI had instinctively believed was being proved by hard sale figures. You take two products with the same function, the same quality and the same price, the better-looking one will outsell the other.”

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

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