Raymond Loewy  

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Raymond Fernand Loewy (5 November, 1893 – 14 July, 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 North American culture. Among his many iconic contributions to modern life were the Shell logo, the Greyhound bus, the S-1 locomotive, the Lucky Strike package, Coldspot refrigerators and the Studebaker Avanti. His career spanned seven decades.


Life and work

Loewy was born in Paris in 1893, the son of Maximilian Loewy, a Viennese journalist, and Marie Labalme. An early accomplishment was the design of a successful model aircraft which then 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, attaining 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.

Early work

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, 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 modernize 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 for Sears-Roebuck. It was this product that established his reputation as an industrial designer. His design firm opened a London office in the mid 1930s. It still operates.

Pennsylvania Railroad

In 1937 Loewy established a relationship with the Pennsylvania Railroad, and his most notable designs for the firm were their passenger locomotives. He designed a streamlined shroud for K4s Pacific #3768 to haul the newly redesigned 1938 Broadway Limited (also by Loewy). He followed by styling the experimental S1 locomotive, as well as the T1 class. Later, at the PRR's request, he restyled Baldwin's diesels with a distinctive "sharknose" reminiscent of the T1. While he did not design the famous GG1 electric locomotives, he improved its appearance by recommending welded construction, rather than riveted, and a pinstriped paint scheme to highlight its smooth contours.

In addition to locomotive design, Loewy's studios performed many kinds of design work 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.


Loewy had a long and fruitful relationship with the American car maker Studebaker. Studebaker first retained Loewy and Associates and Helen Dryden as design consultants in 1936 and in 1939 Loewy began work with the principal designer Virgil M Exner. Their designs first began appearing on late-1930s Studebakers. Loewy also designed a new logo which replaced the "turning wheel" which had been the trademark since 1912.

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. They also created the Starlight body which featured a rear window system wrapping 180 degrees 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 Virgil Exner. 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. At the time, however, the Starlight was ridiculed as bizarre (very similar from front or back). The '53 Starliner was radical in appearance, as radical in its way as the 1934 Airflow. However, it was beset by production problems.

To brand the new line, Loewy also modernized 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.


In the spring of 1961, Loewy was called back to Studebaker by the company's new president, Sherwood Egbert, 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 Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The team was sequestered in a house leased for the purpose in Palm Springs, California. Each team member had a role: Andrews and Kellogg handled sketching, Ebstein oversaw the project, and Loewy was the creative director and offered advice.

The Avanti became an instant classic when it hit the market and has many devotees today; others consider its front end styling peculiar. Versions have been produced in limited quantities over the years by a succession of small independent companies, though never with real commercial success.

Death and legacy

Loewy became a U.S. citizen in 1938. He died in 1986 at the age of 93. In 1991, the Raymond Loewy Foundation was established in Germany to further promote the discipline of design internationally and preserve the memory of Raymond Loewy. An annual award of 50,000 Euros is granted to outstanding designers in recognition of their lifetime achievements. Grantees have included Phillippe Starck and Dieter Rams. He was married twice. His marriage to Jean Thomson ended in amicable divorce in 1945. He married Viola Erickson in 1948. Their daughter, Laurence, managed her father's interests in the United States after his death. She died October 15, 2008, in Marietta, Georgia.

Loewy designs

Following is a list of Loewy designs presented chronologically.



  • Gestetner mimeograph duplicating machine shell, 1929




  • Coca-Cola Redesign of the original contour bottle, eliminating Coca-Cola embossing & adding vivid white Coke & Coca-Cola lettering, designed & introduced first king-size or slenderized bottles, that is, 10, 12, 16 and 26 oz. (1955) Later, in 1960, he designed the first Coke steel can with diamond design.
  • Greyhound Lines two-level Scenicruiser, 1954
  • Northern Pacific Railway, Vista-Dome North Coast Limited (exterior color scheme and interiors), 1954.
  • Studebaker Commander, 1953
  • Hillman Minx automobile, Series One onward, 1956-1959.
  • Leisurama homes, 1959



  • Shell logo, 1971
  • Air France Concorde interior, 1975
  • NASA's Skylab space station, first interior design standards for space travel including a porthole to allow a 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

Year or model not given

  • Frigidaire refrigerators, ranges, and freezers
  • Coop logo
  • Panama Line: Loewy designed the interiors for a trio of American-built passenger-cargo liners named the SS Ancon, SS Cristobal and SS Panama.
  • the Wahl-Eversharp Symphony fountain pen.
  • The International Harvester "IH" "Man on a tractor" logo.
  • Dorsett "Catalina", a popular early fiberglass pleasure boat.
  • Zippo Lighter


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