Raymond Loewy and Imagemaking in the Age of American Industrial Design
What would the American landscape of consumer products look like without the influence of industrial designer Raymond Loewy? His designs, from 1929 to 1970, for automobiles, trains, packaging, appliances, graphic logos, and airplanes are still celebrated for an unerring feel for advancing American consumer taste. To perceive how and why Raymond Loewy and the designers in his employ arrived at the “look” of the American consumer marketplace is the key unlocking the psyche of today’s global consumer and modern marketers. Raymond Loewy, born in Paris in 1893, pioneered American industrial design by jumping into America’s emerging consumer economy with the zeal of a convert to conspicuous consumption. He refined a design template combining salesmanship and media savvy to deliver products that “streamlined the sales curve,” for Studebaker automobiles, appliance companies, Pennsylvania Railroad rolling stock and myriad products ranging from Greyhound buses to fine china. Loewy’s story is one of immigrant striving accomplished through streamlining his own image—carefully building an international reputation through assiduous courting of journalists and tastemakers to become the face of a new profession—industrial design. Streamliner, which is aimed at a general readership as well as those interested in art, design, the automotive industry, and railroad history, will trace how the self-promotion that drove Loewy to the top of his profession began to work against him at the end of his career. They book is available from Johns Hopkins University Press and Amazon.Author John Wall, a former arts journalist and retired public relations specialist, has synthesized Loewy’s two self-aggrandizing books and scoured a wide variety of sources, as well as the Loewy archives at the Hagley Museum and Library and the Library of Congress to present a case for Loewy’s design genius as well as his legacy as one of the founders of modern marketing and branding. Using Loewy’s well-documented work with Studebaker automobiles and the Pennsylvania Railroad as core evidence for the designer’s individual influence and accomplishments, Streamliner also traces Loewy’s work in many markets, including trains, planes and automobiles, consumer appliances, petroleum products, tobacco companies, soft-drink companies, and the federal government, including designs for Air Force One.
- "With wry wit, John Wall's aptly titled and illustrated Streamliner covers Raymond Loewy's long twentieth century, from the Gestetner duplicator in the 1920s to the interior of Skylab for NASA. ‘Pure form,’ Wall explains about Loewy's stylish, self-branding industrial designs, ‘does not move the metal.’ With line and shape, Loewy in Wall's pages moves products big and small, from the Pennsy locomotive S-1, the Greyhound Scenicruiser, the Studebaker Starliner coupe, and the presidential Air Force One, to eye-catching corporate logos, the lipstick cylinder, and the Lucky Strike packet. A fascinating yet unhagiographic read."
Stanley Weintraub, author of Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, and MacArthur's War.
- "An elegant synthesis of Raymond Loewy's life and achievements, Streamliner is a splendid story and well told."
Stephen Bayley, author of Ugly: The Aesthetics of Everything, Design: Intelligence Made Visible, and Harley Earl and the Dream Machine.
- "John Wall provides the most expansive summary yet of Raymond Loewy's career. Distinguishing this account from others is its emphasis on Loewy's most successful design—his own image and reputation as a recognizable brand."
JeffreyMeikle, author of Twentieth Century Limited: Industrial Design in America 1925-1939 and Design in the USA
- "This meticulously researched biography of designer Raymond Loewy introduces us to an underappreciated genius—the man behind many of America's most iconic product and logo designs. John Wall writes with elegant authority; it's clear from his cinematic and literary allusions that we are in the hands of a master prose stylist. Sit back and prepare to be informed and entertained."
Mike Tharp, former Tokyo bureau chief, the Wall Street Journal and US News & World Report
- "Raymond Loewy shaped the iconic images of postwar America. John Wall vividly brings this design genius to life as a flesh-and-blood master of how we see the modern world."
Richard Cordray, former director of the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- "My late aunt was a fashion illustrator and my first cousin is named Alfred Dreyfus. Symmetry? My good friend John Wall expertly reports and writes a fabulous book about one of the greatest inventors in history. Aunt Pat never designed a refrigerator a car or a train, but good lines are good lines. This is a delightful read.
Shelley Smith, reporter for ESPN and ESPN the Magazine.