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New permanent gallery rides in museum

This article originally appeared in the Roanoke Times on 10/11/2006

By Kevin Kittredge

The O. Winston Link Museum has opened a new permanent gallery devoted to Raymond Loewy, the flamboyant designer who gave the Norfolk and Western Passenger Station an extreme makeover in the 1940s.

The former passenger station now houses the Link Museum and the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau.

"Raymond Loewy: Designer for a Modern Era," documents the long life and myriad achievements of the French-born designer. Loewy designed everything from cigarette packs to the interior of Skylab. He designed Studebakers and Greyhound buses and the Shell logo.

In the 1940s he lavishly redesigned N&W's 45-year-old passenger station in Roanoke. Loewy gave the station a streamlined look, with lots of glass and the valley's first escalators.

The designer, who died in 1986, was considerably more famous than train photographer Link in his day -- he was once on the cover of Time. He had homes on two continents and hobnobbed with the rich and famous at Palm Beach and St. Tropez. "I remember being paraded out to meet the Sinatras, the Hopes and the Douglasses," recalled his daughter, Laurence Loewy, in an interview in 2004.

The $106,000 gallery by 1717 Design includes Loewy-designed items, information panels and a three-minute video on Loewy's life. "It's pretty cool," museum manager Kim Parker said of the video.

The Loewy gallery is located in the back of the building on the top floor, opposite the Link Museum gift shop. Admission is free. 982-LINK; www.linkmuseum.org


Raymond Loewy Gallery to open in O. Winston Link Museum

Roanoke, Va., August 31, 2006 On Sept. 23, a gallery devoted to “the father of industrial design” will open in a railway station that Raymond Loewy himself designed almost 60 years ago.

The former N&W Railway passenger station, which now houses The O. Winston Link Museum, was redesigned in 1949 when N&W (now Norfolk Southern) commissioned Loewy, known the world over for his product and logo designs, to create a look that reflected the company’s modern, progressive image.

Loewy’s designs have become cultural icons and include the slenderized Coca Cola bottle and dispenser, the Studebaker Avanti, the U. S. Postal Service seal, NASA’s Apollo Skylab interior, a Greyhound Bus and logos for Shell, BP and Exxon.

Keenly interested in transportation design, Loewy advocated fuel-efficient cars and lower-maintenance locomotives. His first railroad industry design was the aerodynamic GG-1, the first welded locomotive ever built. It was the first of many designs he would complete for the Pennsylvania Railroad and for the N&W Railway.

The N&W Railway’s passenger station was one of Loewy’s few public building projects. A classically proportioned example of Art Moderne architectural style, the station’s renovated interior retains the Loewy-designed sleek lines, brushed aluminum surfaces and terrazzo floors.

Many of O. Winston Link’s critically acclaimed photographs of the final days of steam locomotion were shot in and around the Loewy-designed passenger station which now will be devoted to the genius of both men.

The O. Winston Link Museum’s Raymond Loewy Gallery will emphasize Loewy’s transportation design and will be the only permanent gallery devoted to his work. Artifacts for the gallery have been collected from numerous sources including Loewy’s family, the U. S. Postal Service, and the Hagley Museum & Library in Wilmington, Del.

Artifacts and gallery features include:
· RAYMOND LOEWY LOVED LOCOMOTIVES, a new documentary film 
· Models of Air Force One and Studebaker Avanti
· Large-scale model of the GG-1 locomotive
· Photos and renderings of various Loewy designs
· Perforated metal display panels replicating elements originally used in the Loewy-designed N&W Railway passenger station

Laurence Loewy, the designer’s daughter, will be present at the Sept. 23 opening, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Ms. Loewy will premiere her new documentary film RAYMOND LOEWY LOVED LOCOMOTIVES.

The 1717 Design Group, the Richmond, Va.-based firm that designed the Link Museum’s exhibits, is the Raymond Loewy Gallery’s designer.

The O. Winston Link Museum, at 101 Shenandoah Ave., is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. The Raymond Loewy Gallery will be open to the public at no charge during normal operating hours of the O. Winston Link Museum.

For more information, visit www.linkmuseum.org or call (540) 982-5465.


Loewy’s 1953 Starliner in Automobile Magazine’s poll of 100 Coolest Cars

The staff at Automobile Magazine said, ?Many consider Raymond Loewy?s ?53 Starliner to be the most beautiful American car of all time. Studebaker?s finest effort reverberates across the Bonneville Salt Flats to this day.? This copy appeared in the magazines October 2004 issue, highlighting a poll of the ?100 Coolest Cars.?

Most notably, they were long, low (lower than any other American cars), fast-looking, and possessed ?roadability? (a feel for the road). Hailed in Studebaker advertising as the American car with the European look. Many automobile aficionados consider them the best of the forms produced over the years by Loewy?s studio.

The Starliner design was notably free of chrome, and had a sloping nose and concealed radiator, features that recall European rather than American car design. Fortune Magazine hailed the Starliner as the first American sports car. The New York News spoke of Loewy taking on Detroit and winning.


Loewy’s automotive and transportation designs featured at Studebaker Museum

?Different by Design: The Best of Studebaker Style?, 4/13/04 through 9/30/04, at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, IN featured products that established Studebaker?s reputation as a styling leader. The exhibition showcases some of Raymond Loewy?s most famous automotive and transportation designs.

Studebaker was known for the unique styling of their vehicles from the horse drawn carriages to the modern automobile. In 1939 Studebaker hired world famous designer Raymond Loewy to update their line, providing his modern streamlined look.

Viewing the Loewy Gallery with the award winning post-war 1950 Starlight Coupe and the 1953 Starliner brought back memories of Studebaker?s design history when their calling card was style and design.

Loewy?s personal gold 1976 Avanti II held a featured spot, along side designers? artifacts and displays demonstrating how an automobile goes from drawing board to production.


Hollywood Celebrates Loewy’s Influence

Raymond Loewy, oft-considered the most prominent industrial designer of the 20th century, had a profound influence on a generation of designers that is still felt today. His use of streamlining, which Loewy himself called, "beauty through function and simplification," led to the transformation of a number of items including the world famous Lucky Strike cigarette package to the design of the Greyhound bus and logo.

Loewy's prominence as a world-class designer is such that even Hollywood has noted his unique contributions and influence on the world of design. In the past year alone, two blockbuster Hollywood films have either mentioned Loewy by name or have been influenced by the late designer?s art-deco techniques.

In 2004, Kerry Conran wrote/directed the action-packed film, "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow." According to both Conran and his brother, production designer Kevin Conran, the retro science fiction movie was influenced heavily by Loewy's classic art-deco design. Loewy?s futuristic cars, locomotives, radios and fashions can be spotted throughout the film.

Also released in 2004, director Martin Scorsese?s bio-pic ?The Aviator? mentions Loewy?s name several times. In the film, Loewy is mentioned by famed pilot and movie producer Howard Hughes (played by actor Leonardo DiCaprio) as having been hired to design the interior for Hughes? famous Lockheed Constellation.

The fact that Loewy's name continues to circulate within Hollywood speaks volumes about his talent and success as a designer, and helps ensure that his legacy won?t soon be forgotten.


ART REVIEW; A Designer’s Career, Neatly Packaged

This article originally appeared in the New York Times on 05/07/3006

Published: May 7, 2006

'Raymond Loewy: Designs For a Consumer Culture'

History Museum, Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook, (631) 751-0066. Through May 21.

Although Raymond Loewy has been dead for 20 years, not a day goes by that his presence isn't felt all around us. From the pattern in the Formica breakfast tabletop to the china cup that holds the bedtime cocoa, his designs are everywhere.

Name a familiar brand logo and, likely as not, he either dreamed it up or modernized it. In 1949, Life magazine called him the Great Packager.

This excellent survey of his career, organized by the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Del., details Loewy's progress from childhood tinkering to fame and fortune as one of the 20th century's most prominent industrial designers.

Born in France in 1893, he came to New York in 1919, just in time to take advantage of the demand for consumer goods that burgeoned after World War I. Together with a small group of innovators (whom he generously credited in a promotional video for Frigidaire), he pioneered the concept of disguising a product's functional parts under a fashionable shell. Thus, when fashions changed, the old model had to go, even though the workings remained serviceable.

It did not hurt Loewy's career that he was as suave as the products he designed. But while his Gallic savoir-faire undoubtedly appealed to his corporate clients, his success hinged on knowing what would appeal to average consumers, on the practical and the aesthetic levels. He streamlined everything from locomotives to Coke dispensers, whether or not it made any functional difference, because streamlining is glamorous.

But he was also responsible for introducing curved rear windows in cars -- as illustrated by the 1954 Studebaker Champion on display -- to give better visibility, and for sensible improvements like more headroom inside airplanes and smooth kitchen surfaces for easy cleaning.

The exhibition includes many examples of how Loewy and his design team shaped American taste. There is plenty of evidence outside the museum, too. If you seek his monument, look around.

'Power Dressing: Men's Fashion and Prestige in Africa'

Parrish Art Museum, 25 Job's Lane, Southampton, (631) 283-2118. Through May 28.

Organized by the Newark Museum and largely drawn from its own collections, this exhibition surveys styles of male attire in cultures across the continent, from Morocco to South Africa. The material is organized thematically, with items grouped according to function rather than by geography, which makes for some intriguing juxtapositions.

In the ''Fit for a King'' section, for example, one finds everything from beaded slippers to a gilded crown and personal ornaments modeled on European regalia. Informative labels make it clear that all are potent symbols of authority.

Although most of the items are based on traditional forms and materials -- like the chief's robe from Ghana, made of kente cloth -- they often incorporate cross-cultural influences. From colonialism to tourism, from tribal hegemony to symbols of pan-African unity, the garments express adaptation to political, social and economic development in Africa over the last century.

Among the many fascinating examples of appropriation is a Nigerian white-beaded crown modeled on the wig worn by English barristers. The ruler's exalted status is thus associated with both divine right and judicial authority, implying that the king governs in both spheres.

At the opposite social extreme, the elaborate costumes and flamboyant headdresses of Zulu rickshaw drivers allude to their warrior heritage. Like performers in a historical drama, the so-called Rickshaw Boys of modern-day Durban, South Africa, use personal adornment as an affirmation of identity that transcends their humble status, as well as a lure to attract customers.

Whether magnificent or mundane, the outfits reflect the many ways in which, to put it in contemporary terms, the clothes make the man.

'There's the Rub'

Islip Art Museum, 50 Irish Lane, East Islip, (631) 224-5402. Through June 4.

The technique of laying paper over a surface and lifting an impression with a crayon or pencil is traditionally used to collect names from tombstones and images from memorial brasses. But that is not the only way to make a rubbing, as this group show demonstrates.

Joy Taylor applies powdered graphite to sheets of polyester film to create delicate layers of stenciled imagery derived from natural objects like leaves. Complex tonal variations are achieved by feathered edges, superimposed forms and cutout overlays, as in ''No. 5,'' which is subtly enhanced by crumpled surfaces and threads that tie the layers together.

Like Ms. Taylor, Paul Moran uses rubbing as an additive process, building up modulated atmospheric paintings that exploit the translucency of thinned oil paint. In the spirit of the 19th-century Tonalist painters, but more abstractly, his dreamy canvases evoke imaginary landscapes illuminated by mysterious diffused light.

Rubbing may also be reductive, as is the case with Jim Dingilian's smoke drawings on silver trays and dishes. After applying the darkening agent to the surface, the artist erases areas to create imagery that mimics the ephemeral quality of old photographs. These shadowy, enigmatic pictures blend with the metallic background, like fading sensations momentarily emerging from the mist of memory.

By impressing the texture of patterned cloth onto thin Japanese paper and adding to and subtracting from the result, James Nelson uses positive and negative rubbing procedures. Darkening some parts with graphite and deleting others, he causes the focus to shift almost imperceptibly from one area to another, enlivening an otherwise uniform surface.


High Art for the Masses

This article originally appeared in the San Luis Obispo Tribune on 6/04/3006

By Emily Logan 

Raymond Loewy?s name might not be familiar to everyone, but his work is famous. Considered the father of industrial design, Loewy did everything from modernizing the Coca-Cola bottle to creating the space-age look of the classic Studebaker.

"By 1951, he claimed that the average person leading a normal life would have daily contact with something that he designed," said Carolyn Kastner, consulting curator for the San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design.

"Raymond Loewy: Designs for a Consumer Culture," a traveling exhibit, is on display at the Sutter Street museum until Aug. 27 and features drawings, products, models, photographs and film clips that highlight nearly 50 years of Loewy?s work.

Though the exhibition was originally a chronological account, Kastner said the Museum of Craft + Design staff decided to focus on particular bodies of work as opposed to time periods.

"For us, it has come down to making the show thematic and a big center of this will be what he did for the Pennsylvania Railroad," she said. In 1937, Loewy redesigned the railroad?s boxy passenger locomotives, giving them a streamlined, modern look.

On a similar vein, Loewy used sleek, aerodynamic features for his designs for Studebaker ? the Avanti, Champion and Starliner.

"The car must look fast, whether in motion or stationary. I want it to look as if it were leaping forward," Loewy said of his revolutionary designs.

The exhibit also gives space to product design for companies such as Schick and Sears, logo design for Lucky Strike and Exxon, and residential and commercial interiors.

Born in France, Loewy moved to New York where he had a brief stint as a fashion designer. A commission by a British firm took him back to Europe, where he began his career of making everyday items appeal to the eye.

"By mid-century, people understood that people were designing not for technological changes but for appearance," Kastner said. Loewy?s firm worked with hundreds of clients and his work influenced designers and companies for years. Still today, many logos, containers and advertisements pay homage to his style.

Not only did Loewy help change the faces of such prominent companies as Nabisco, NASA and Frigidaire, he also redesigned almost every area of the home and office from refrigerators, cabinets and dinnerware to office duplicating machines, toothbrushes and radios.

"Every project he took on, he took on as a complete body of work," said Kastner, never redesigning just one piece but rethinking every item in the space.

A proven moneymaker for the companies who hired him, Loewy knew what the public liked and knew what went too far. He had a famous acronym, MAYA, which stood for the "most advanced yet acceptable" idea.

The Loewy exhibit, originally seen at the Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Del., in 2002?2003, is one of the largest shows mounted thus far by the almost two-year-old Museum of Craft + Design.

"It attempts to describe his work and the work of his offices and to place them in a wider context of the role of design in the 20th century," said Seb Hamamjian, associate director of the Museum of Craft + Design. "He had a tremendous influence over consumer society, touching nearly everyone, and was clearly the best known figure in his profession."

If you go...

Raymond Loewy: Designs for a Consumer Culture
Where: San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design, 550 Sutter St., San Francisco
When: Through Aug. 27 Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Admission: $3 adults, $2 seniors, children free
Info: 415-773-0303 or www.sfmcd.com


Designing the Fabulous Avanti

Hemmings Classic Car, January 2006

Industrial design legend Raymond Loewy and the Studebaker marque are intrinsically linked. By the early 60's Studebaker was on the financial ropes. In 1962, Studebaker's new president Sherwood Egbert invited Loewy out to South Bend to discuss a sophisticated sports coupe that would boost the Indiana marque's image. The financial terms of Loewy's comeback agreement are not recorded but he amazingly agreed to deliver the design proposals in just 40 days. In Studebaker's heyday, their most recognized and profitable designs were all products of Loewy's South Bend studio, I.E. '47 Starlight Coupe , '50 Champion and '53 Starliner.

The gestation of the new Avanti glassfibre Avanti GT is legendary. Loewy flew back to his Palm Springs dream home and signed up his ideal team for the challenge. They included his multi-talented aide John Ebstein to supervise the experienced clay modeler Bob Andrews whose resume included the 'step down' Hudson, plus a young boat designer and former Art Center graduate Tom Kellogg.

Working literally around the clock, in a rented Palm Springs bungalow, the Loewy team was able to do the impossible. By March 27, a mere eight days after design work began, they had created a clay scale model with two different sides: one a two-seat sports car, the other a four-seat GT coupe. Loewy flew it to South Bend, where Egbert settled on the four-passenger idea. Amazingly, on April 27 - just five weeks after development began - the Studebaker Board of Directors were given a presentation of the new car in the form of a full-sized clay model. They gave the go-ahead to prepare it for production.

The Avanti didn't save Studebaker. But Loewy's Avanti remains one of the most beautiful and exciting cars ever created. Egbert summed up Loewy's Avanti best in an advertisement where he boldly stated, "You are looking at a new take-off point for the American automobile. It is the Avanti by Studebaker. It is a prestige car, a fast car and certainly the most advanced car produced in America today."

Loewy, a '97 inductee into Detroit's Automotive Hall of Fame, continues to influence leading automotive manufacturers and car enthusiasts today.


The Man Who Shaped America

New Design Magazine ( UK), February 2006, Issue 38

Raymond Loewy, 'the man who shaped America'. Between the 1930's and his retirement in the 70's, it was said that Americans could hardly pass a day without encountering the designer's touch; for his projects were abundant and diverse.

Loewy went to the US in 1919 and worked as a fashion illustrator for such magazines as Vanity Fair and Vogue. His design of the 1935 Sears Coldspot was a great success and won first prize at the Paris International Exposition. During the 1930's and '40s Loewy designed a variety of household products with rounded corners and simplified outlines. In 1945 he formed Raymond Loewy and Associates and became the largest design firm in the world.

Loewy's vision of beauty through the use of "streamlined," highly functional forms shaped modern design in the US, and the images of his work permeated the nation's lifestyle. Working closely with client engineers, he made memorable designs for Studebaker automobiles, Pennsylvania Rail Road locomotives and buses for Greyhound. He also made important contributions to the design of such products as electric shavers, toothbrushes, ball-point pens, office machines, soft-drink bottles, radios and packages, including the redesign of the familiar Coca-Cola bottle in 1955.

Undoubtedly one of the most successful commercial artist of the time, Loewy transferred his skills to packaging and logo design. In 1940, the president of the American Tobacco Company, George Washington Hill wagered him $50,000 that he could not improve the appearance of the familiar Lucky Strike Pack. He accepted the challenge and changed the background color on the packet from green to white, thus reducing the cost by eliminating the green dye that was needed for the war-time effort. He also copied the logo onto both sides of the packet, promoting the visibility and dramatically increasing sales. He collected his fee and today, the logo remains highly iconic and unchanged. Loewy also designed the Shell, Exxon and BP logos - another three memorable pieces. In 1949 he was the first designer to grace the cover of Time magazine, having announced 'the beginning of industrial design as a legi! timate profession' after demonstrating the practical benefits of the application of functional styling through early contract work.

In the 1960s and '70s Loewy applied his expertise and his formula of sleek and simplified to lines used in aerospace technology. He designed Air Force One for President Kennedy and from 1967 to 1973, he worked for NASA, producing the first interior design standards used in the Apollo and Skylab series.


Raymond Loewy Foundation Presents 2005 Lucky Strike Designer Awards

The Raymond Loewy Foundation presented their annual Lucky Strike Designer Awards in Berlin, November 3 at the Axica Congress and Event Center. The Axica, designed by world famous architect Frank O. Gehry, is located across from the Brandenburg Gate, at the historic meeting point of East and West in Berlin?s heart.

This year?s award?s ceremony received a great deal of attention from the German Press. Claudia Roth, Germany?s Green Party Chairwoman, was the guest speaker.

John Maeda, visionary, designer and professor, was the recipient of the 2005 Lucky Strike Designer Award. Maeda, who has long been a star in the design and technology scene in the United States and Asia, has been setting the standards for design, information technology and art. This visionary of ?Simplicity? advocates a future in which less is more.

John Maeda, a fan of Loewy, has been teaching since 1996 at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge/Boston. He is the Professor for ?Design and Computation? and Director of the Aesthetic & Communications Group of the MIT Media Lab. There, he directs his experimental research program, ?Simplicity.? Maeda works closely with sponsors such as Time Inc., BT, Johnson & Johnson, AARP and Samsung to jointly find opportunities to anchor simplicity in the market.

John Maeda received the Lucky Strike Designer Award not only for his pioneering work in things simplicity, but also for his early work. Already in the 1990?s he was one of the first multimedia artists and has been displayed internationally in galleries and museums since. He also gained international renown for publications on multimedia and computer programs. His work includes ?Reactive Books,? ?Twelve O?Clocks? and the highly acclaimed book, ?Design by Numbers,? a computer language and program foundation for visual aesthetics.

Past recipients of the Lucky Strike Designer Award include Donna Karan, Karl Lagerfeld, and Patrick le Quement, Senior VP of Design for Renault.