Monday, November 5, 2012

Raymond Loewy 1893 - 1986

Today we celebrate the birthday of design giant Raymond Loewy, one of my all-time favorite designers.

I discovered Loewy when I was in high school. I was into cars, and became aware that he had done a lot of the styling for Studebaker in the '50s, so I got some books on him from the library to learn more. I had been raised with a healthy amount of respect for the maxim, "if it ain't broke don't fix it" but Loewy had the opposite approach: that there wasn't a single thing that existed that couldn't be improved. His books, Never Leave Well Enough Alone and Industrial Designwere a huge influence on me as a young man contemplating a design career.

Loewy was a design powerhouse, helping to create the modern look of America in the 20th Century. He designed everything from household objects to corporate logos, cars for Studebaker (including both the iconic bullet-nose look from the early '50s and later their Avanti), locomotives, and even conceptual designs for some NASA projects.

I wish I had more of my own images of Loewy's work but alas, this is a glaring hole in my image library. Instead I will link to other sources and let you check them out for yourself. (I really hate to post others' photos here, and don't have time today to sort out permissions, etc.)

Here is a general image search under Raymond Loewy, to give you a general flavor.

Here is the classic bullet-nose Studebaker.

Don't forget Fozzie Bear's bullet nose Studebaker (from Muppet Wikia)

Link to the Studebaker Museum, South Bend, Indiana.

Loewy's design for the Avanti, including lots of great drawings.

Also, there is a lot of stuff (largely ceramics but some other really cool things as well) designed by Raymond Loewy available on Ebay here.

Before writing this, I didn't realize the extent to which the Estate of Raymond Loewy was active today, but there is which claims to be "the official site of Raymond Loewy", as well as which seems to be the home of Loewy Design of Marietta, Georgia.  In addition to these two, there is also, which appears to be the efforts of Loewy Design to found a museum around Loewy's work. I'm glad to see that they are actively pursuing the promotion of his legacy, and would be very excited to see them build a museum!

If you are interested in 20th Century industrial design and/or automotive design, then you might also want to learn more about the following related designers:  Henry Dreyfuss, Norman Bel Geddes, Walter Dorwin Teague, Virgil Exner, Brooks Stevens, Zora Arkus-Duntov, Harley Earl. Not all of these Wikipedia entries are very elaborate, but could be a good starting point for more research. There are probably a lot of really great used books out there on these designers, that could be had for cheap at

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