The Man Who Shaped America
Raymond Loewy made streamlining a household word. Born and educated in Paris, Loewy’s artistic talents emerged early. He was particularly skilled at refining a complex object into a simplified form, and would apply this principle to an incredible array of objects. Loewy immigrated to the United States in 1919 after serving in the French army as a captain during World War I, and found work as a window designer for department stores and as a fashion illustrator.
In 1929, Loewy received his first industrial-design commission to contemporize the appearance of a duplicating machine. Further commissions followed, including one from Sears-Roebuck to design the Cold-Spot refrigerator. It was that design that established his reputation as a skilled industrial designer and enabled him to open his first design offices in London, and later, New York and Paris. In addition to utilizing his own talents, Lowey surrounded himself with creative individuals and influenced an entire generation of industrial designers. Some of Lowey’s most noted designs included the logos of Shell, Exxon, and the US Postal Service. He designed the Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, Coca-Cola vending machines, the Lucky Strike package, and even the livery for Air Force One. Lowey also designed numerous locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Some of Loewy’s most celebrated work came from his relationship with Studebaker. Studebaker first retained Loewy and Associates in 1936, and Loewy would collaborate with fellow Hall of Fame Inductee Virgil Exner to design the late 1930’s Studebakers, as well as the Studebaker Starlight and Starliner. Lowey was also asked to style one of Studebaker’s last cars; the Avanti. The Avanti was Studebaker’s attempt to revitalize the company’s image and sales by appealing to younger buyers. To conceive the Avanti, Lowey recruited a team of experienced designers and sequestered them in a house near his residence in Palm Springs, California. Loewy and his team produced a finished design for the Avanti in less than two months. Universally recognized for his talents, Raymond Loewy is regarded by many as the “Father of Streamlining” and of Industrial Design.