Raymond Loewy (November 5, 1893 - July 14, 1986) was one of the best known industrial designers of the 20th century. Born in France, he spent most of his professional career in the United States, where he influenced countless aspects of American life.
Loewy became a U.S. citizen in 1938. He married Viola Erickson in 1948. They had one daughter, Laurence. Laurence Loewy continues to manage her father's interests in the United States.
Loewy was born in Paris in 1893. An early accomplishment was the design of a successful model aircraft, which won the James Gordon Bennett Cup in 1908; by the following year, he was selling the plane, named the Ayrel. He served in the French Army during World War I, rising to the rank of captain. Loewy was wounded in combat and received the Croix de Guerre. He boarded a ship to America in 1919, with only his French officer's uniform and forty dollars in his pocket.
In Loewy's early years in the U.S., he lived in New York and found work as a window designer for department stores, including Macy's, in addition to working as a fashion illustrator for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. In 1929, he received his first industrial design commission: to modernize the appearance of a duplicating machine by Gestetner. Further commissions followed, including work for Westinghouse, for the Hupp Motor Compmany (the Hupmobile styling), and the styling of the Coldspot refrigerator for Sears-Roebuck. His design firm opened a London office in the mid 1930s.
In 1937, Loewy established a relationship with the Pennsylvania Railroad, for which his most notable designs were the streamlined styling of the railroad's passenger locomotives. He designed a streamlined shroud for the K4s Pacific #3768 to haul the newly redesigned (also by Loewy) 1938 Broadway Limited. He followed this by styling the experimental S1 locomotive, and the T1 class. Later, at the PRR's request, he restyled Baldwin's diesel locomotives, giving them a distinctive "sharknose" snout reminiscent of the T1.
While he did not design the shape of the railroad's famous GG1 electric locomotives, he improved their looks by recommending welded and smoothed, rather than riveted, construction, and a pin-striped paint scheme to highlight their smoothly rounded forms.
As well as carrying out such glamorous projects, his studios did all manner of work for the PRR, including designing the interiors of passenger cars, stations, printed material, and much more.
Loewy began his long and productive relationship with U.S. automaker Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, in the 1930s. Loewy and Associates was contracted by Studebaker to provide design services for the independent automaker during the waning years of the Great Depression. His designs first began appearing on late 1930s model Studebakers. Studebaker also adopted his clean, uncluttered logo design, replacing the logo that it had used since the turn of the century.
During World War II, government restrictions on in-house design departments at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler prevented official work on civilian automobiles. Because Loewy's firm was independent of the nation’s fourth-largest automobile producer, no such restrictions applied. This permitted Studebaker to launch the first all-new postwar automobile design in 1947, a full two years ahead of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. His team developed an advanced design, featuring flush front fenders, and clean rearward lines. They also created the Starlight body style featuring a rear window system that wrapped 180 degrees around the rear seat passengers.
In addition to the iconic bullet-nosed Studebakers of 1950 and 1951, the team created the 1953 Studebaker line, highlighted by the Starliner and Starlight coupes, which consistently rank as one of the best-designed automobiles of the 1950s in lists compiled by Collectible Automobile, Car and Driver and Motor Trend magazines. He also modernized Studebaker’s logo again by applying the “Lazy S” element to a more modern design.
His final commission of the 1950s for Studebaker was the transformation of the Starlight and Starliner coupes into the Studebaker Hawk series for the 1956 model year.
He was called back to Studebaker by the firm's President, Sherwood Egbert, to design the Avanti, from the Italian word for "forward." In the spring of 1961, Sherwood Egbert, the new president of Studebaker, hired him to help energize Studebaker's soon-to-be released line of 1963 passenger cars to attract younger buyers. He agreed to take the job, despite the short 40-day schedule allowed to produce a finished design and scale model.
He quickly recruited a design team consisting of experienced designers and former Loewy employees John Ebstein and Bob Andrews, and Tom Kellogg, a young student from Art Center. The team gathered in Palm Springs and sequestered themselves in a house leased solely for the purpose of developing the new car design. Each team member had a role: Andrews and Kellogg handled the sketching, Ebstein oversaw the project, and Loewy served as the creative director, offering input on the design.
Once the Avanti hit the market, it became an instant classic and still has many devotees even today. It has been produced in limited quantities over the years by a succession of small independent companies.
- Air Force One (blue, white, & chrome livery); also applied in 2006 to Union Pacific diesel locomotive #4141 to honor George H. W. Bush (the 41st president)
- Baldwin Locomotive Works Model DR-4-4-15 "Sharknose" diesel locomotives
- Coca-Cola Redesigned original contour bottle in 1955, eliminating Coca-Cola embossing & adding vivid white Coke & Coca-Cola lettering, designed & introduced first king-size or slenderized bottles, I.E. 10, 12, 16 and 26 oz., the same year. Designed the first Coke steel can with diamond design in 1960.
- Exxon logo, 1966
- The O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Virginia, 1947 (renovation)
- Fairbanks-Morse "Erie-built" and "C-liner" models, Model H-10-44 and H-20-44, and early Model H-12-44, H-12-46, H-15-44, H-16-44, H-16-66, and H-24-66 diesel locomotives
- Farmall tractor
- Frigidaire refrigerators, ranges, and freezers
- Gestetner mimeograph duplicating machine shell, 1929
- Greyhound Scenicruiser, 1954
- Hallicrafters Model S-38 shortwave radio
- Leisurama homes
- Lucky Strike package, 1940
- NASA's Skylab space station, first interior design standards for space travel including a porthole to allow the first view of earth from space, interior designs and color schemes, a private area for each crew member to relax and sleep, food table and trays, coveralls, garment storage modules, designs for waste management
- New York City Transit Authority R40 car
- Panama Line: Loewy designed the interiors for a trio of American-built passenger-cargo liners named the SS Ancon, SS Cristobal and SS Panama.
- Pennsylvania Railroad:
- PRR K4s steam locomotive]
- PRR S1 steam locomotive
- PRR T1 steam locomotive
- PRR GG1 electric locomotive, 1936
- Postage stamp :
- Five cents John Kennedy, 1964
- Sears products, including 1935 Sears Coldspot
- Shell logo, 1971
- Hillman Minx Series one onward.
- The Locomotive: Its Aesthetics (1937)
- Never Leave Well Enough Alone (1951) ISBN 0-8018-7211-1 autobiography
- Industrial Design (1979) ISBN 0-87951-260-1
- RaymondLoewy.com - official site by his estate
- RaymondLoewy.org - official site of Loewy Design, LLC
- The Raymond Loewy Foundation
- Designs for a Consumer Culture - the Hagley Museum and Library online exhibit
- The Loewy archive and Audio-visual collection at the Hagley Museum and Library
- Design drawing for Exxon logo by Raymond Loewy - American Treasures of the Library of Congress