Raymond Loewy

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Raymond Loewy
Loewy standing on one of his designs, the Pennsylvania Railroad's S1 steam locomotive
Born(1893-11-05)November 5, 1893
DiedJuly 14, 1986(1986-07-14) (aged 92)
Resting placeRochefort-en-Yvelines Cemetery, Rambouillet, France
CitizenshipFrance, United States
EducationUniversity of Paris
OccupationIndustrial Designer
Years active1909–1980
Notable work
  • Air Force One livery
  • Coca-Cola fountain dispenser
  • Concorde interiors
  • Gestetner duplicating machine
  • Greyhound Scenicruiser bus and logo
  • JFK postage stamp
  • Lucky Strike package
  • NASA interiors for Skylab and Apollo programs
  • Rosenthal China 2000 Series
  • Sears Coldspot refrigerators
  • Streamlined locomotives for the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • Studebaker Commander and Avanti
  • Logos for Exxon, Shell, BP, International Harvester, TWA, Nabisco, Quaker, New Man, LU and the U.S. Postal Service
Spouse(s)Jean Thompson Bienfait[1]
(m. 1931–1945; divorced)
Viola Erickson
(m. 1948–1986; his death)

Raymond Loewy (/ˈli/ LOH-ee, French: [ʁɛmɔ̃ levi];[2] November 5, 1893 – July 14, 1986) was a French-born American industrial designer who achieved fame for the magnitude of his design efforts across a variety of industries, he was recognized for this by Time magazine and featured on its cover on October 31, 1949.[3]

He spent most of his professional career in the United States, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1938. Among his designs were the Shell, Exxon, TWA and the former BP logos, the Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, Coca-Cola vending machines, the Lucky Strike package, Coldspot refrigerators, the Studebaker Avanti and Champion, and the Air Force One livery, he was involved with numerous railroad designs, including the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 and S-1 locomotives, the color scheme and Eagle motif for the first streamliners of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and a number of lesser known color scheme and car interior designs for other railroads. His career spanned seven decades.

The press referred to Loewy as The Man Who Shaped America, The Father of Streamlining and The Father of Industrial Design.[4]

Early life[edit]

Loewy was born in Paris in 1893, the son of Maximilian Loewy, a Jewish journalist from Austria, and a French mother, Marie Labalme. Loewy distinguished himself early with the design of a successful model aircraft, which won the Gordon Bennett Cup for model airplanes in 1908.[5] By the following year, he had commercial sales of the plane, named the Ayrel.

Loewy served in the French army during World War I (1914–1918), attaining the rank of captain, he was wounded in combat and received the Croix de guerre. After the war he moved to New York, where he arrived in September 1919.[citation needed]


Early work[edit]

In Loewy's early years in the United States, he lived in New York and found work as a window designer for department stores, including Macy's, Wanamaker's and Saks in addition to working as a fashion illustrator for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. In 1929 he received his first industrial-design commission to contemporize the appearance of a duplicating machine by Gestetner. Further commissions followed, including work for Westinghouse, the Hupp Motor Company (the Hupmobile styling), and styling the Coldspot refrigerator[6] for Sears-Roebuck, it was this product that established his reputation as an industrial designer. He opened a London office in the mid-1930s that continues to operate.[7]

Pennsylvania Railroad[edit]

In 1937, Loewy established a relationship with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his most notable designs for the firm involved some of their passenger locomotives, he designed a streamlined shroud for K4s Pacific #3768 to haul the newly redesigned 1938 Broadway Limited. He followed by styling the experimental S1 locomotive, as well as the T1 class. In 1940, he designed a simplified version of the streamlined shroud for another four K4s. In 1942, he designed the streamlined shroud for the experimental duplex engine Q1 which was his last work of streamlining PRR's steam engine.

In 1946, at the Pennsylvania Railroad's request, he restyled Baldwin's diesels with a distinctive "sharknose" reminiscent of the T1, he also designed the experimental steam turbine engine V1 "Triplex" for PRR which was never built. While he did not design the famous GG1 electric locomotive, he improved its appearance with welded rather than riveted construction, and he added a pinstripe paint scheme to highlight its smooth contours.

In addition to locomotive design, Loewy's studios provided many designs for the Pennsylvania Railroad, including stations, passenger-car interiors, and advertising materials. By 1949, Loewy employed 143 designers, architects, and draftsmen, his business partners were A. Baker Barnhart, William Snaith, and John Breen.[8]


Raymond Loewy's 1930s era Studebaker logo

Loewy had a long and fruitful relationship with American car maker Studebaker. Studebaker first retained Loewy and Associates and Helen Dryden as design consultants in 1936[9]:[p.247] and in 1939 Loewy began work with the principal designer Virgil Exner,[9][10] their designs first began appearing with the late-1930s Studebakers. Loewy also designed a new logo to replace the "turning wheel" that had been the Studebaker trademark since 1912.[9]

During World War II, American 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 fourth-largest automobile producer in America, no such restrictions applied. This permitted Studebaker to launch the first all-new postwar automobile in 1947, two years ahead of the "Big Three." His team developed an advanced design featuring flush-front fenders and clean rearward lines. The Loewy staff, headed by Exner, also created the Starlight body, which featured a rear-window system that wrapped 180° around the rear seat.

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. (Publicly credited to Loewy, they were actually the work of Robert Bourke.[11])

The Starlight has consistently ranked as one of the best-designed cars of the 1950s in lists compiled since by Collectible Automobile, Car and Driver, and Motor Trend; the '53 Starliner, recognized today as "one of the most beautiful cars ever made",[12][not specific enough to verify] was radical in appearance, as radical in its way as the 1934 Airflow. However, it was beset by production problems.[12]

To brand the new line, Loewy also contemporized Studebaker's logo again by applying the "Lazy S" element, his final commission of the 1950s for Studebaker was the transformation of the Starlight and Starliner coupes into the Hawk series for the 1956 model year. The photo to the right actually shows a Starliner hardtop, which does not have the "C" pillar.

In the spring of 1961, Studebaker's new president, Sherwood Egbert, recalled Loewy to design the Avanti. Egbert hired him to help energize Studebaker's soon-to-be-released line of 1963 passenger cars to attract younger buyers.

Despite the short 40-day schedule allowed to produce a finished design and scale model, Loewy agreed to take the job, he recruited a team consisting of experienced designers, including former Loewy employees John Ebstein; Bob Andrews; and Tom Kellogg, a young student from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The team worked in a house leased for the purpose in Palm Springs, California. (Loewy also had a home in Palm Springs that he designed himself.[13]) Each team member had a role. Andrews and Kellogg handled sketching, Ebstein oversaw the project, and Loewy was the creative director and offered advice.


Raymond Loewy worked for NASA from 1967 to 1973.[14] Loewy was employed as a Habitability Consultant by NASA when they designed the Skylab space station, launched in 1973.[15] One of NASA's goals in hiring him was to improve the psychology, safety, and comfort of manned spacecraft.[14]

Personal life, death and legacy[edit]

Loewy retired at the age of 87 in 1980 and returned to his native France.

Loewy died in his Monte Carlo residence in 1986, he was raised in Catholic faith and upon his passing, was buried in the cemetery of a Roman Catholic church[16] of Rochefort-en-Yvelines in France,[17] a village located some 40 km southwest of Paris, where he owned the castle de la Cense. He was survived by his wife Viola, and their daughter Laurence.


In 1992 Viola and Laurence Loewy, with the support of British American Tobacco, established the Raymond Loewy Foundation in Hamburg, Germany; the foundation was established to promote the discipline of industrial design internationally and preserve the memory of Raymond Loewy. An annual award of €50,000 is granted to outstanding designers in recognition of their lifetime achievements. Notable grantees include Karl Lagerfeld, Philippe Starck and Dieter Rams.

Design philosophy[edit]

In 1998 Loewy's daughter, Laurence, established Loewy Design in Atlanta, Georgia, to manage her father's continued interests in the United States. In 2006, the Loewy Gallery,[18] opened in Roanoke, Virginia through the supportive efforts of the 0. Winston Link Museum, local business community, art patrons, Laurence Loewy, David Hagerman, and Ross Stansfield. Laurence died of natural causes October 15, 2008, and is survived by her husband David Hagerman. David Hagerman remains the Representative for the Estate of Raymond Loewy, which remains dedicated to reintroducing Loewy's design philosophy of MAYA or “most advanced, yet acceptable,[19] to a new generation through design exhibitions, publications, and documentaries. In October 2017, RAYMOND LOEWY: DESIGNER OF AMERICAN DREAMS, originally conceptualized by Laurence Loewy, premiered to Paris audiences; the documentary has aired on the French Arte Channel.[20]

Google doodle[edit]

On November 5, 2013, Loewy was honored with a Google Doodle depicting a streamlined locomotive bearing a resemblance to the K4s Pacific #3768 shroud design, using the wheels of the train to form the word Google.[21]

Loewy designs[edit]


Published books[edit]

  • The Locomotive: Its Aesthetics (1937) ISBN 978-0876636763
  • Never Leave Well Enough Alone (1951, autobiography) ISBN 0-8018-7211-1
  • Industrial Design (1979) ISBN 0-87951-260-1

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Hagley Digital Images Archived 2013-11-05 at Archive.today
  2. ^ Duden – Das Aussprachewörterbuch (in German) (8 ed.). Berlin: Dudenverlag. 2015. ISBN 3-411-05508-1.
  3. ^ Loewy on the cover of Time (October 31, 1949)
  4. ^ "FastFacts" on Raymondloewy.com
  5. ^ Loewy, Raymond (2002). Never Leave Well Enough Alone. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-8018-7211-2.
  6. ^ Coldspot Refrigerator
  7. ^ Loewy Group marketing agency Archived 2007-11-24 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b Staff (October 31, 1949) "Up from the Egg", Time
  9. ^ a b c Hendry, Maurice M. Studebaker: One can do a lot of remembering in South Bend. New Albany: Automobile Quarterly. pp. 228–275. Vol X, 3rd Q, 1972.
  10. ^ Setright, L.J.K., "Loewy: When styling became industrial design", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 11, p. 1211.
  11. ^ Automotive Design Oral History – "Reminiscences of Robert E. Bourke"
  12. ^ a b Ludvigsen, p. 2227[not specific enough to verify]
  13. ^ Bloch, John, director and producer: Agronsky, Martin, host, (February 23, 1958). "Look Here. Raymond Loewy". NBC Television Presents, LCCN 96-507681
  14. ^ a b Novak, Matt (October 13, 2014) "Raymond Loewy's NASA Designs Are The Space Future That Never Was" Paleofuture
  15. ^ Torchinsky, Jason (May 13, 2014) "Why Skylab Was America's First And Best Home In Space" Jalopnik
  16. ^ L’église de Rochefort et son cimetière Archived 2013-12-03 at the Wayback Machine on the official website of Rochefort-en-Yvelines.
  17. ^ "Raymond Loewy (1893–1986)" (in French). Mairie of Rochefort-en-Yvelines. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  18. ^ https://www.1717design.com
  19. ^ Thompson, Derek. "The Four-Letter Code to Selling Just About Anything". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  20. ^ ARTE. "Raymond Loewy, le designer du rêve américain". ARTE Boutique - Films et séries en VOD, DVD, location VOD, documentaires, spectacles, Blu-ray, livres et BD (in French). Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  21. ^ "Google Doodle celebrates the 'father of industrial design' Raymond Loewy". IGN. November 5, 2013. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  22. ^ "Hughes' Stratoliner". Planeboats.com. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  23. ^ "Hallicrafters SX-42 shortwave radio made 1946 - 1947". Arsmachina.com. Archived from the original on 2005-12-31. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
  24. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  25. ^ Harnesberger, Douglas J. and Kraus, Nancy (July 1998). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Norfolk and Western Railway Company Historic District" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-27.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Designed to Travel; Curating Relics of T.W.A; as It Prepares for Departure". The New York Times. June 7, 2001.
  27. ^ Staff. "Union News restaurants, TWA, Idlewild. Lisbon Lounge". United States Library of Congress. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  28. ^ Valet 2000/50 Dressing Cabinet
  29. ^ American Treasures of the Library of Congress, "Design drawing for Exxon logo by Raymond Loewy"
  30. ^ "SPAR". Raymond Loewy Foundation. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  31. ^ Staff (July 2009). "Celebrate America this July with Gary Kollberg's Exhibit at the Farmington Library". Farmington, Connecticut: Farmington Library of Art.
  32. ^ Wilson, Patrick (March 23, 2009). "What's in a name? Scope Arena, Norfolk". The Virginian Pilot.

Further reading

  • Bayley, Stephen. The Lucky Strike Packet (Design Classics Series), Art Books International Ltd (1998) ISBN 3-931317-72-2
  • Byars, Mel. "Loewy, Raymond" in American National Biography, American Council of Learned Societies (2000)
  • Porter, Glenn. Raymond Loewy Designs for the Consumer Culture, Hagley Museum and Library (2002) ISBN 0-914650-34-3
  • Schoenberger, Angela. Raymond Loewy: Pioneer of American Industrial Design, Prestel Publishing (1991) ISBN 3-7913-1449-1
  • Trétiack, Phillippe. Raymond Loewy and Streamlined Design, New York: Universe (1999) ISBN 0-7893-0328-0
  • Wall, John. Streamliner: Raymond Loewy and Image-making in the Age of American Industrial Design, Johns Hopkins University Press (2018) ISBN 9781421425740

External links[edit]