raymond loewy : best known for his designs for steam locomotives and refrigerators, he also designed logos for exxon and shell ..............................

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raymond loewy

- march 2002 -

a french born engineer, best known for his designs for
steam locomotives and refrigerators, he also designed logos
for exxon and shell, and the interior of the skylab.

'between two products equal in price, function, and
quality, the better looking will outsell the other.'
he proved that the success of a product is as dependent on
aesthetics as function.
'the goal of design is to sell,' he said. 'and to drive the point
home, he added, 'the loveliest curve I know is the sales curve.'

loewy was the first designer to introduce annual model
changes into the home appliance market and thus introducing
obsolescence into the market of household appliances.

it is estimated that at the peak of his career over 75%
of americans came into contact with one or more of his
products every day.
/ see raymond loewy's biography

the streamline style

american companies which survived the wall street crash
in 1929 saw competition rise to an unprecedented extent.
the design of products was taken seriously as they had to
increase sales to survive. for the first time, design became
a commercial imperative.

from the early 1930s through into the 1950s, a design style
flourished that has become known as the streamline style.
its most important characteristic are the closed,
streamlined forms that strongly suggest speed, symbolic
of the dynamism of modern times.
to visualise this, the sharp corners and transitions
of objects were rounded off. knobs, handles and hand grips
were recessed. speed lines were created by introducing ribs
or gleaming chrome strips.
this style dangled the promise before consumers that
they were still on the way to a glorious future with prosperity
for everybody, at least if they continued to consume.

the streamline style was not arrived at on the basis of scientific
requirements for optimal air flow, but was a cliched expression
of that. there was a good deal of theatricality to these visual
devices as they were applied to movie marquees,
toasters, vacuum cleaners, objects which - except for the
occasional domestic altercation - were not meant to fly
through the air. thus, irrespective of their function or content,
objects were made attractive and tempting in a way that
everyone understood. it was a period in which mass
consumption was uncritically embraced.

raymond loewy
courtesy laurence loewy, loewy design.

time magazine, october 1949,
it was the first time a product designer
received so much national media attention
in the united states.
courtesy laurence loewy, loewy design.

logos and corporate designs

1940 lucky strike pack
loewy’s classic transformation of the package included:

- replacing the green background with white
- turning the circular motif into a stronger target device
- making both sides of the pack identical by featuring the
target on both sides
- sharpening up the typography.

lucky strike package,
courtesy laurence loewy, loewy design.
coca cola
raymond loewy said,
'the coke bottle is the most perfectly designed package in the word.'

loewy is often mistakenly credited with designing the
coca- cola bottle, although he worked for the coca cola
company for decades, designed several coke related products,
and even redesigned the famous bottle in 1954.
(the first coke bottle was developed for coca-cola in 1915
by the root glass company of terre haute, indiana
- the bottle has undergone several redesigns in its 100-plus years).
his contribution to that particular icon, the original contour
of the 'mae west' bottle, was to 'slenderize' the already
existing version, giving it a more refined silhouette and
making it sexier to a new generation.

he was also responsible for designing the dole deluxe
dispenser for coca cola in 1947, as well as the dole super
dispenser in 1951.
oewy also applied for patents for his designs for a coca-cola
'refrigerator' (a standing cooler) in 1945,
an 'ornamental design for a truck body' in 1946,
and a beverage dispenser with an 'ornamental design' in 1946.
ten years later (1956), he also designed a bottle opener that
caught the bottle caps.

the coca cola bottle re-design,
courtesy laurence loewy, loewy design.

dole deluxe dispenser for coca cola,
courtesy laurence loewy, loewy design.
shell oil company's logo
in 1967, the shell company approached loewy with a
design problem
- its emblem was difficult to distinguish from a distance,
or in poor lighting. the logo is still in use today.
the pecten (shell's version) has gone through some facelifts
over the years. In fact the first pecten wasn't a pecten
(scallop shell) at all.
it was a mussel shell introduced in 1900 and replaced in
1904 by the first version of the scallop shell motif.
the pecten symbol currently in use worldwide was
designed in 1971 by loewy.
the design and testing process completed by loewy's firm
took more than four years. one of the tests involved hanging
various prototype pectens on poles where they could be
viewed by drivers passing on a nearby british motorway.
drivers were later contacted for their opinions on the prototypes.

the shell logo, 1967
courtesy laurence loewy, loewy design.

the pecten history from 1900 to today

the exxon logo
after his work for shell oil company, loewy was hired
by jersey standard to find a new name and design a
new logo for its esso brand.
he proposed 'exxon' and came up with seventy-six
rough pencil sketches based on the word,
placing the visual emphasis on the double 'x.'
the two x’s subliminally recalled the 's’s' in esso and
thus helped ease the transition from the old name to
the new.

the exxon logo
courtesy laurence loewy, loewy design.

the sketches for exxon logo
courtesy laurence loewy, loewy design.





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