Today’s Google Doodle honors what would have been the 120th birthday of French industrial designer Raymond Loewy (1893-1986). The Doodle, a pencil sketch, was inspired by the Pennsylvania Railroad’s S1 steam locomotive he designed as you can clearly see the resemblance to Loewy’s original sketch in the above image.
Industrial Designer Raymond Loewy
So what did Raymond Loewy actually design? Believe it or not, pretty much everything. From the world’s best known brand logos, pencil sharpeners, clocks, kitchen appliances, coke bottles, coke dispensers and furniture to Planes, Trains and Automobiles (to steal a movie title), the Father of Industrial Design ”made products irresistible at a time when nobody really wanted to pay for anything,” TIME magazine once wrote.
His designs straddled the mid-century modern style and the streamlined art deco. Most recognizable amongst his achievements are the Shell and Exxon logos, the Lucky Strike cigarette packaging, GG1 and S1 locomotives, the slenderized Coca-Cola bottle, the John F. Kennedy memorial postage stamp, the interior of Saturn I, Saturn V, and Skylab, the Greyhound bus and logo, U.S. Postal Service emblem, a line of Frigidaire refrigerators, ranges, and freezers, and the Studebaker Avanti, Champion and Starliner.
above: just some of Loewy’s logo designs
“Design, vitalized and simplified, will make the comforts of civilized life available to an ever-increasing number of Americans.” — Raymond Loewy
Some of his designs (shown with his beautiful sketches if possible):
Bottle and dispensers for Coca Cola:
Greyhound Bus and Logo Design:
Pencil sharpener, tea set, carpet and furniture by Loewy:
Lucky Strike logo and packaging:
USPS emblem and JFK memorial Stamp:
Here are just some of his career highlights:
• 1975 Smithsonian Institution opened The Designs of Raymond Loewy, a four-month exhibit dedicated to “the man who changed the face of industrial design.”
• 1972 Poll of stylists representing the Big Three automakers voted his 1953 Studebaker Starliner Coupé an “industry best.” Also named one of the most influential Americans by LIFE magazine.
• 1967 Began working as a habitability consultant to NASA.
• 1965 Joined the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.
• 1962 After designing the Shell logo, it becomes such a recognizable icon that Shell drops its name from their advertisements.
• 1961 Designed the Studebaker Avanti, holding to the motto, “weight is the enemy.”
• 1954 Designed the Greyhound bus.
• 1953 Designed the Studebaker Starliner Coupé, which the Museum of Modern Art later called a “work of art.”
• 1952 Founded the Compagnie de I’Esthetique Industrielle in Paris, France.
• 1951 Published second design textbook, Industrial Design, and his autobiography Never Leave Well Enough Alone.
• 1949 Appeared on the cover of TIME magazine.
• 1939 Redesigned the Lucky Strike cigarette packaging.
• 1937 Published first book, The Locomotive: Its Aesthetics.
• 1936 Designed the GG-1 electric locomotive for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
• 1934 Designed the Coldspot refrigerator for Sears Roebuck & Company.
• 1930 Hired as a consultant by the Hupp Motor Company.
• 1929 Redesigned the Gestetner mimeograph machine. Founder and art director of Raymond Loewy, William Snaith, Inc., in New York City (later established as Raymond Loewy International).
• 1919 Provided popular fashion illustrations for magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Freelanced as a window designer for department stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s.
In 1975 the Smithsonian Institution opened The Designs of Raymond Loewy, a four-month exhibit dedicated to “the man who changed the face of industrial design.” Loewy later commented, “While working closely with the Smithsonian, I was provided with the opportunity to reassess the past.” And what a past it was. Loewy – businessman, educator, illustrator and author – had undoubtedly established himself as one of history’s most famous and influential designers.
above: Loewy with his design for Air Force 1
Loewy and Viola moved to France several years later, where they enjoyed leisurely travel and a more relaxed lifestyle. On July 14, 1986, after a period of poor health, Raymond Loewy died in Monte Carlo, Monaco. He was 92 years old.
Loewy’s death sparked a worldwide media frenzy over his immeasurable talent and contributions to industrial design. New York Times reporter Susan Heller wrote, “One can hardly open a beer or a soft drink, fix breakfast, board a plane, buy gas, mail a letter or shop for an appliance without encountering a Loewy creation.”