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Raymond Loewy miscellany

1936-1995
 Collection
Identifier: 2327

Abstract

Raymond Loewy (1893–1986) was one of the most well know industrial designers during the middle decades of the twentieth century. The collection documents Loewy's product designs and includes advertisements, postcards, product brochures, publications, photographs, and artifacts.

Dates

  • 1936-1995

Creator

Extent

2 Linear Feet

Historical Note

Glenn Porter, then Director of the Hagley Museum and Library, purchased these items in 2001 and 2002 for possible use in the exhibit Raymond Lowey: Designs for a Consumer Culture although the materials were never displayed.

Biographical Note

Raymond Loewy (1893–1986) was one of the most well know industrial designers during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Born in Paris on November 5, 1893, he was the third son of Maximillian Loewy (1860-1919) and Marie Labalme Loewy (1867-1919). As a boy, he developed an interest in transportation and machines. At age seventeen, Loewy enrolled in a pre-engineering school, an experience that prepared him for the technical aspects of an industrial design career.

After distinguished service in World War I, Loewy immigrated to the United States in 1919. He settled in New York City and for the next decade had a varied career as a fashion illustrator, window dresser, and costume designer, but primarily as a commercial artist, specifically an advertising illustrator. In 1934 he signed a contract with the Pennsylvania Railroad that launched a two-decade relationship with the "Standard Railroad of the World." Loewy's work for the Pennsy did much to establish his reputation as the leading figure in the century's most noteworthy American design style: streamlining.

Loewy reached his peak in the post-war decades when his office focused on the American consumer and the suburbs. His company expanded to its greatest dimensions at mid-century. By this time the Loewy firm employed a large staff of designers, but it was the Raymond Loewy name that attracted clients.

Transportation, particularly automobiles, was always one of Loewy's passions. After his design of the Hupmobile in the early 1930s, Loewy began work for Studebaker in 1936. His first project for Studebaker was the re-styling of the body of the 1938 President. A year later, the Champion was introduced, and both models boosted the company's image. The postwar Studebakers, particularly the 1947 Champion Regal Deluxe and the 1953 Regal Starlight coupe, had a strong influence on automotive design. Loewy's innovative design of the Avanti in 1962 was widely acclaimed.

Loewy's firm worked on a number of projects for the public sector, including habitability studies for the Navy, and trademark and identity programs for the Coast Guard, the Post Office, and other federal agencies. In 1962, Loewy redesigned Air Force One for President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), changing the lettering and color scheme on the exterior, and redesigning the interior. Loewy believed that his most significant project for the government was his work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). From 1967 to 1973 Loewy was retained by NASA as a habitability consultant for the Saturn-Apollo and Skylab projects. His recommendations for Skylab included the inclusion of a window through which the astronauts could view earth, as well as proposals for the comfort and privacy of crew members.

Financial difficulties had beset the firm in the early 1970s and in 1975, Loewy attempted to stave off the monetary problems by merging all of his corporations into a firm called Raymond Loewy International. The following year, he and his wife Viola Loewy (1922-1995), had sold their shares in that business, and by 1977 Raymond Loewy International declared bankruptcy. The Loewys moved to France and entered retirement. In 1979 his book Industrial Design: Raymond Loewy was published and a portfolio of lithographs of some of his best-known designs were released. Loewy died on July 14, 1986 in Monaco at age 92.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of magazine advertisements, many from The Saturday Evening Post; photographs and postcard views of Loewy designs, including his trial commission for a wastebasket for Pennsylvania Station in New York; product brochures; and a group of publications by and about Loewy. There is also a small group of artifacts, including a model of the Avanti car, bottles, stainless ware, and a Johann Haviland serving plate.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Additional Description

Provenance

Purchase, 2001-2002

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Raymond Loewy miscellany
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400