Raymond Loewy the Father of Industrial Design

Raymond Loewy Industrial design
1951 Studebaker Commander Convertible, with Loewy at the wheel, pacing a PRR T1 Duplex — artist Chris Ludlow

Historians refer to Raymond Loewy as the designer of the modern world. He began his career drawing for Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair and Vogue before moving into industrial design towards the end of the 1920s.

“There is a frantic race to merchandise tinsel and trash under the guise of ‘modernism’. I can claim to have made the daily life of the 20th Century more beautiful.” — Raymond Loewy

Loewy studied engineering at the Université de Paris and École de Laneau, before emigrating to the United States of America in 1919 (See 23 Images, or click here for Flickr slideshow).

Raymond Loewy
Raymond Loewy

Loewy’s philosophy of design, it is said, can be summed up in the acronym MAYA (most advanced, yet acceptable). As one of the foremost proponents of the streamlined form, he created fluid, cutting-edge designs for a great many basic household goods and appliances, including refrigerators, vacuüm cleaners, sewing machines, radios, cameras and telephones.

Loewy was also responsible for a massive body of work involving the design and manufacture of trains, planes and automobiles and he was even engaged in aerospace engineering. NASA consulted with Loewy in the late 60s and early 70s to make manned spacecraft like Skylab’s Orbital Workshop more comfortable for astronauts.

As a pioneer in the field, even before the term “industrial designer” had entered the public lexicon, Loewy was a brilliant and ebullient designer who was also in the right place at the right time. His career was inextricably bound to the post-War economic boom right at the dawn of commercial aviation and, with his automobile designs, right at the forefront of the glorious industrial renaissance led by Detroit.

TIME magazine featured Raymond Loewy on the 31 October, 1949 cover. He was born in Paris, France on November 5, 1893 and died at the age of 92 on 14 July, 1986 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. He possessed dual citizenship of the United States of America and France, spending most of his life in the USA.

Raymond Loewy 1957 Coca-Cola re-design
Raymond Loewy’s 1957 re-design of the iconic Coca-Cola bottle saw the removal of the embossing, replacing it with the white logo on both sides. “It’s shape is aggressively female, a quality that in merchandise, as in life, sometime transcends functionalism,” Loewy said — click any image to enlarge


Shell logo
Shell logo
Studebaker logo
Studebaker logo
Exxon logo
Exxon logo

Lucky Strike logo
Lucky Strike logo


Cutlery design for Air France
Cutlery design for Air France

Rosenthal Continental China
Rosenthal Continental China


Google Doodle honouring Raymond Loewy
Google Doodle honouring Raymond Loewy’s 120th birthday is inspired by Loewy’s design of the Pennsylvania Railroad “S1” Steam Locomotive featured below — click any image to enlarge


Pennsylvania Railroad
1937 “S1” Steam Locomotive of the Pennsylvania Railroad with Raymond Loewy


1963 Studebaker Avanti sketch
1963 Studebaker Avanti sketch and design highlights by Raymond Loewy


1963 Studebaker Avanti sketches
1963 Studebaker Avanti sketches by Raymond Loewy — click any image to enlarge

1963 Studebaker Avanti sketches
1963 Studebaker Avanti sketches by Raymond Loewy showing several design variants


Rare 1934 Hupmobile Coupe
Rare 1934 Hupmobile Coupe


Hupmobile Coupe rear view
Hupmobile Coupe rear view

View of Hupmobile grill
Hupmobile grill and integrated oval headlights


1934 Hupmobile Sedan sketch
The 1934 Hupmobile was Loewy’s first major automotive project. Although he was an established industrial designer, in 1932 his radical styling proposals were a little too far out for the manufacturers of the day. In his book, Industrial Design, Loewy writes that he went the route of building a prototype on an existing Hupmobile chassis, at his own expense, to sell his proposals to the manufacturer. The annotations shown here were used to highlight design features for the marketing campaign.


1956 Geyhound Scenic Cruiser
1956 Geyhound Scenic Cruiser

Loewy streamliner concept
Loewy streamliner concept


1948 Lincoln Continental
1948 Lincoln Continental


1959 Cadillac Eldorado

1953 Studebaker Commander
1953 Studebaker Commander


Skylab Orbital Workshop
Skylab Orbital Workshop. NASA consulted with Loewy in the late 60s and early 70s to make manned spacecraft like Skylab’s Orbital Workshop more comfortable for astronauts — click to enlarge


Sources: NASA; Gismodo; Stahls Automotive Museum; Wikipedia – Raymond Loewy; The Coca-Cola Company; Sears Archives;

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