Artículo revista Time dedicado a Raymond Lowey
Un ícono del diseño....la portada y el artículo que la revista Time dedica a Raymond Lowey (1949), obligada lectura para los diseñadores para entender la importancia de la profesión y sus orígenes.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Artículo revista Time dedicado a Raymond Lowey
BUSINESS & FINANCE TIME, OCTOBER 31, 1949 MODERN LIVING Up from the Egg In his Manhattan apartment early one morn-ing last week, Industrial Designer RaymondLoewy awoke with a start. As he flipped a bed-side switch, soft indirect light spread over wallsmade of egg-crate fiber and over a group of im-probable furnishings—a Tahitian drum, Congoceremonial sword, Chinese helmet, Moroccanfly-switch, Senegalese war hatchet and gro-tesque Zulu masks. Loewy, who gets some ofhis best ideas in bed (and no nightmares fromthe masks), reached for the ever-present memopad beside his pillow and scribbled a cryptic note:Why not a suction cap for shaving-cream tubes? The idea captured, frail as it was, Loewy wentback to sleep until a Loewy-designed alarm clocktinkled at 7 a.m., turning him out into a worldfilled with the products of his night & day dream-ing. In his black, beige and bronze bathroom,with its motif of Nubian slaves, he plugged in hisLoewy-designed Schick electric razor, used atoothbrush and tube of toothpaste he had mod-eled for Pepsodent, tore off the wrapper he haddesigned for Lux soap. Even the expensivelytailored grey suit he put on was his own snuglyfitting creation. Its special feature: inch-and-a-half cuffs on the sleeves, which could be replacedwhen frayed (a designer’s fray quickly). In the combination living & dining room, glit-tering with thousands of flecks of gold-coloredplastic thread woven in chairs, sofa and carpet, sion maker wanted him to draw up sketches for a trim figure better (he keeps his weight close tothe huge mirror forming the far wall parted; a new line of cabinets. “Fine.” said Loewy, “I spent 170 by diet and massage), worked on throughthrough it, from her hidden boudoir, stepped Viola $2,000 on my own set and it hasn’t worked right the lunch hour, pausing only for an apple andLoewy, his 28-year-old bride of less than a year, since I bought it.” From Glamour magazine came saccharin-sweetened coffee. Then, in & out ofto join him at breakfast. a phone call: How about an article on theater workrooms again, he stopped by a drafting board After eating, Loewy descended ten floors to design? “Wonderful.’’ said Loewy. “I’ve been wait- littered with new tiepin designs, picked up a pencilhis spanking new 1950 Studebaker convertible ing for a chance to tell everyone what’s wrong and drew an arrowhead and part of the shaft.waiting at the curb. That he had designed too— with theaters.” Then Loewy paced nervously “Work some up like this in gold, or black—oralong with all the Studebakers since the war— through the various cubicles where his associ- maybe burgundy,” he said in the tone of aand thereby helped set a new fashion in auto- ates were planning new designs for everything suggestion. “Men seem to like burgundy.” At themobiles. Loewy’s own car had a few special flam- from tiepins to locomotives. blueprints for a power-wheel for bicycles for theboyant frills: a plastic tail-fin, a tiny gold grilled He looked over models of the interiors of three American Brake Shoe Co., Loewy commented:air scoop above the emblem on the hood, re- new ocean liners for American President Lines, “Much too heavy.” On his way out he stumbledcessed door handles, porthole windows and hurried on to pick up a new bottle for Lever Bros. over some outdoor cooking grills that a new cus-other eyecatchers to start pedestrians’ tongues Loewy thought it would be nice to put some kind tomer had brought in for redesign. Looking atawagging with the name of Studebaker—and of shock absorber on the bottom (“The clash of the clumsy grills with ill-concealed horror, heShowman Loewy. glass against a sink isn’t good”). From his pocket murmured: “Terrible! Terrible!” and rushed off for Man at Work. Loewy and his 143 designers, he whipped out his hasty design for the tube-top a rubdown and massage at the New York Ath-architects and draftsmen were busier than ever made as a suction cup (to hold the tube against letic Club.spreading that name & fame on a dozen new the wall while in use). “Make one up and I’ll try it The Sleeping Beauty. As the biggest indus-projects. They had signed up to modernize at home for a week or two,” he said. trial designer in the U.S., Raymond FernandRaglands department store on Texas’ famed King Loewy stopped to look ruefully at the flat let- Loewy, at 56, is the dominant figure in a field,Ranch (TIME, Dec. 15, 1947); they had just com- tering on a new ice-cream package. “It’s for home which in less than a quarter-century has mush-pleted the first part of a face-lifting for freezer units,” he protested, “where there isn’t roomed from a groping, uncertain experimentManhattan’s Gimbel Brothers (cried Gimbels in much light. The brand name has to jump right into a major phenomenon of U.S. business.full-page ads: “We are speechless”). Their new out at you.” Grabbing scissors and glossy, col- Design has existed since man made the firsttwo-level Greyhound bus, (the Scenicruiser) was ored paper, he snipped out a design, slapped wheel, but the Machine Age, concerned at firstbeing road-tested on Michigan roads. For Cali- the brand lettering against it and held it up: the only with spewing forth its myriad products infornia they were planning a state fair. name jumped out, all right. increasing quantity, was slow in discovering the Hardly had Loewy stepped into his muted grey Designer Loewy, who likes good food, but likes need for form. As early as 1904 Frank Lloydand beige penthouse office high above Fifth Av- Wright was singing the beauties of the machine.enue, when more jobs rolled in, e.g., a televi- *with Butler-Valet Karl Huzala As he later put it:
Now, a chair is a machine to sit in. A home is a machine to live in. The human body is a machine to be worked by will. A tree is a machine to bear fruit. A plant is a machine to bear flowers and seeds. And ... a heart is a suction-pump. Does that idea thrill you? Not until the late ‘20s did Loewy, Norman BelGeddes—industrial design’s greatest prophetand visionary—and a handful of pioneers, in-cluding Walter Dorwin Teague, Henry Dreyfuss,Harold Van Doren, Lurelle Guild, thrill the indus-trial world with an art for the Machine Age. They pursued the simple principle that everyobject can have an ideal form which, witheconomy and grace, can express its function.Through centuries of trial & error many of man’ssimplest tools —the ax helve, the plowshare, theox yoke —had achieved a utilitarian perfectionof design. In essence, industrial design was abrave attempt to bring the same simplicity to allthe goods and tools of modern living. The de-pression, when industrialists were willing to tryanything to boost sales, gave the designers theirfirst big chance to show what they could do. The Lusty Child. There were early flops, but all these years, I’m not even sure that I like him!” package for Lucky Strike in 1942 (“Lucky Strikethe flops were soon outnumbered by notable suc- Everything he does calls attention, with skilled green has gone to war”).cesses. Trim, clean-lined stoves, oil heaters, re- showmanship, to his work, so that observers at Eggs & Needles. Loewy’s business has grownfrigerators and washing machines outsold their times get the strange feeling that he too is a so large that he now has three working partners:ugly predecessors and those of competitors. design —by Loewy, of course. A. Baker Barnhart, who has charge of all pack-Streamlining, which had the laudable purpose Despite his shyness, he is a crack salesman aging, product and transportation design; Will-of cutting down wind resistance in trains, cars, who throws no artistic tantrums. Far from turn- iam Snaith, who manages all department-storeetc., became such a craze that it was even in- ing out designs with offhand sureness, he works work; Business Manager John Breen. There areflicted on such static objects as desk sets. Little them over painstakingly until the client is satis- branch offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Southby little the hardy, struggling band proved that fied. He also has an almost hypnotic power to Bend, Ind. and London. All of his designers thinktheir artistry could draw that prettiest curve of all impress, persuade and convince the toughest so much like him that, says an admiring rival, “Ifto businessmen—an upward-sweeping sales tycoon. Even the American Tobacco Co.’s late you meet any one of them you meet Loewy.”curve. George Washington Hill, who used to frighten Says the boss, who takes on jobs for as little Today, the infant art of industrial design is fast advertising men out of their wits, wilted under as $500 or as much as $200,000: “If you wantbecoming as potent a sales force as advertis- Loewy’s gentle suasion. He paid him the whop- me to do a big thing like a tractor—there are soing. Many big companies, like General Motors, ping fee of $50,000 just for designing a new white many obvious things you could do to make itGeneral Electric and Westinghouse, have longsince built up design departments of their own,but smaller companies, who cannot afford to doso, must depend exclusively on freelance spe-cialists like Loewy. With the return of the buyer’s market, everyU.S. manufacturer is cudgeling his brain—andthe brains of designers—to make his productwork better, feel better, look better and sell bet-ter than those of his rivals. This year U.S. busi-ness will spend some $500 million improvingthe way its products look. Of that sum, RaymondLoewy Associates expects to collect $3,000,000,the biggest gross ever. And Loewy expects thathis personal income, which has averaged$200,000 for the past five years, will be boostedalso. The Shy Salesman. Suave, grey-haired, me-dium-sized (5 ft. 10 in.), Loewy talks in a sub-dued voice that is, at the same time, apologeticand compelling. His face is reposed, gentle, sad,and as inscrutable as that of a Monte Carlo crou-pier. Obsessively shy, he is always “Mr. Loewy”even to his longtime associates. Even to thosewho know him well he is something of anenigma. Said one longtime acquaintance: “After
better-looking that I would take it for very little. smoke sometimes obscured the engineer’s vi-But if you want me to redesign a sewing needle, sion (he devised a vane to deflect it). He woundI’d charge $100,000. After all, how can you im- up designing not only new locomotives but wholeprove a needle? It’s like the perfect functional new trains for Pennsylvania (Broadway Limited,shape of an egg.” “Spirit of St. Louis,” The General. Liberty Lim- As the “great packager” who tricks up boxes ited, etc.), and modern new stations as well. Nowand labels, Designer Loewy lures U.S. consum- he is pondering the biggest problem of all: find-ers into buying more soap, lard, perfume and ing a better and more profitable way to handlehair oils. If he did nothing more than such trivial all the road’s freight.things, consumers might well wonder what ben- His methods often mystify clients. Whenefit, if any, they get from his work. But he also Chicago’s Armour & Co. hired Loewy to rede-works just as hard making all manner of things sign and repackage its 700-800 different prod-better and more usable. His new vacuum cleaner ucts, he disappeared for about six months. Said(Singer) is the first which is designed to be hung Vice President Walter S. Shafer: “We didn’t knowup flat against a closet wall. Foley Bros, depart- what he was doing.” Actually, Loewymen werement store, in Houston, was the first department out talking to hundreds of housewives whostore designed so that a shopper could walk bought the products. When Loewy came backthrough the store making purchases, and have he told Armour to abolish all the multicolor la-them all waiting for her when she returned to bels that it had been using, and substitute aher car in the store garage. Though Loewy’s work simple two-color pattern throughout. Armourdoes not have the imaginative sweep of Designer saved enough money on color-printing alone toBel Geddes’ visions of triple-decked planes, ro- pay for the designer’s services. As Lever Bros.’tary airports and submarinelike ocean liners, he Charles Luckman, another client, put it: “Ray-has a greater influence on current design and mond keeps one eye on imagination and onemodern living than any other designer simply eye on the cash register.”because his pen is in so many different inkpots. Flash of a Knife. In 1943 when he began Chain Reaction. A small problem often leads designing the first postwar Studebaker, Loewyto much bigger ones. For example, the job of decided that current cars were too bulky, toostreamlining International Harvester’s tractors led laden with chromium “spinach and schmalz,”to designing a distinctive new building (1,125 and had too many blind spots. What he wantedhave been built) in which to sell them . was slimness, grace and better visibility. To his The Locomotive God. Loewy first dreamed Loewy’s first job for the Pennsylvania Railroad staff he mapped the grand strategy: “Weight is of building cars and locomotives in Paris, wherewas designing a trash can. That was success- the enemy . . . Whatever saves weight saves he was born and spent the first 26 years of hisful, so he went to work blueprinting a new loco- cost. The car must look fast, whether in motion life. His father, Maximilian, was a Viennese jour-motive. To find out what was wrong with old en- or stationary. I want it to look as if it were leap- nalist; his mother, Marie Labalme, a sturdygines. Loewy rode them for thousands of miles, ing forward; I want ‘built-in’ motion ... If it looks Frenchwoman who prodded her children by con-noting such things as the absence of a toilet for ‘stopped’ it is a dead pigeon ... I want one that tinually telling them: “Better to be envied thanthe crew (he installed one), and the fact that looks alive as a leaping greyhound.” pitied.” Young Raymond, the third of three sons, He augmented his permanent staff in the filled his school notebooks with so many Studebaker plant from 28 to 39, talked each sketches of locomotives, automobiles and air- design over with engineers to see if it was fea- planes that his parents sent him to engineering sible. From hundreds of tentative designs school. Loewy pulled a curve here, a hood there, a But at 21, the student engineer was called off fender sweep yonder, then “mocked up” about to World War I as a private. At the front, he deco- a dozen experimental models in clay, one-quar- rated his dugout with flowered wallpaper, drap- ter size, and worked on them. Says eries and tufted pillows. He designed himself a Studebaker’s President Harold S. Vance: “I have new pair of pants because the government-is- seen Loewy shake his head in disapproval, then sue pants were badly cut (“I enjoyed going into take out a knife and with one sweep correct the action well-dressed”). After four years of war— clay model to perfection.” during which he was burned severely by mus- When the final model was chosen and tard gas—he came out a captain, with a swatch mocked up full-size, Loewy called in Stude- of ribbons on his chest but no money in his pock- baker officials and dramatically whisked the ets. His older brother Georges, a doctor in Man- coverings off the model. Loewy feels that “it hattan, urged Raymond to join him. At 26, still is the first impression that counts; either it wearing his captain’s uniform (the only clothing clicks or it doesn’t.” he had), Loewy sailed for the U.S. with a total It clicked so well that in the last three years capital of $40. Aboard ship, his sketching so im- Studebaker has broken all its peacetime records pressed Sir Harry Gloster Armstrong, then Brit- for sales and profits. Not all Studebaker dealers ish consul general in New York, that he gave liked the 1950 models, which came out last Au- him a note of introduction to Publisher Conde gust. Some did not like the rocketlike hood and Nast. nose air intake that resembles the 1949 Ford. The publisher, in turn, was also impressed by But Loewy’s answer is in the sales. While most the Parisian suavity and horizon-blue uniform other independent car-makers were having rough of the dapper young officer. He put him to work going, Studebaker sold more cars in September on fashion illustrations for Vogue, and Loewy than any month in its history. From receivership swiftly demonstrated his unmatched ability to im- less than 15 years ago, Studebaker has climbed press all the right people. back, is now the biggest independent—a smaller Before long, the benefit of his shrewd, apprais- fourth to the Big Three. ing eye was being respectfully sought by such
Dreyfuss’ new telephone for the Bell System has the numbers outside. How could chairs be made more comfortable? Manhattan’s Designer Egmont Arens thought it could be done by taking clay impressions of fat, skinny and in-between posteriors. A one-piece plastic chair with compound curves more com- fortable than straight lines was being popped out by General American Transportation Corp. at the rate of one every five minutes. Did all refrigerators and home freezers have to be white and hard to keep clean? Milwaukee’s Designer Brooks Stevens, who designed the Mil- waukee Road’s gleaming new bubble-domed Hiawatha train, thought not; he had already turned out a blue freezer (for Ben Hur) which was making bigger companies sit up and take note. Must theaters have only a small number of seats in the choicest orchestra rows? At Manhattan’s Savoy-Plaza hotel, Designer Bel Geddes was transforming about 10,000 square feet of lobby, dining and storage space into a modern theater which, devoid of a proscenium arch and extending the stage into the audience, boosts the orchestra seating from the average 300 to 800, using fewer rows of seats. There were fine, luxurious new trains, buses,merchandising bigwigs as John Wanamaker and ally spends part of the winter in the $100,000 steamships and airliners built and abuilding. De-Horace Saks. dream house he designed and built in the desert signer Dreyfuss, who had conceived the New One day in 1927, at a friend’s home, he met near Palm Springs, Calif., complete with a swim- York Central’s first modern 20th Century trains,Britain’s Sigmund Gestetner, maker of a famed ming pool which curves into the living room. had many a super-modern ocean liner interiorold duplicating machine whose design had not Summer always finds him back in France, where on the boards. Designer Teague’s cozy lounges,been appreciably changed in 30 years. Loewy he has three homes. His relaxing spot is Le snack bars and dressing rooms were alreadylugged the duplicator up to his apartment and Torpillou (the Little Torpedo), a bright, red-tiled aloft in Boeing’s new Stratocruiser. Not even thebuilt a clay model embodying his ideas. Gestet- villa overlooking the Cote d’Azur at St. Tropez, U.S. toilet had been neglected. Thanks to De-ner liked it so well that he paid Loewy $2,000 for and littered with such things as underwater fish- signer Dreyfuss and the Crane Co., it was nowit and used the same design for 15 years after- ing gear, which he seldom uses. Near Rambouil- available in form-fitting shapes.ward. (Gestetner paid him a yearly retainer not let, outside Paris, he has a i6th Century manor, The New Frontiers. For all the work that hadto design for any competitor.) Overnight, Fash- La Cense, once a lovecote for Henri IV; it teems been done, there still remained vast, unexploredion Artist Loewy decided to become an indus- with game which Loewy seldom hunts, but he regions of ugliness and inefficiency for the U.S.trial designer. admires the elegant design of its peacocks. Last industrial designer to tackle. Designer Loewy last 75% Transportation. Loewy quickly found out year he acquired an apartment on Paris’ Quai week summed up a few of the challenges:that industrial design was not easy: it was “25% d’Orsay, decorated it with everything from braced “The world is filled with archaic objects —mail-inspiration and 75% transportation.” He lugged halberds with baby-pink shafts and ribboned boxes which look like alarm boxes, banks whichbriefcases of designs from one manufacturer to bows to crystal chandeliers picked up at Paris’ look like places to break out of rather than placesanother around the U.S., barely sold enough to flea market. to enter.keep body and penthouse together for his first In his Manhattan apartment, Loewy has “Noise is a parasite. Anything noisy is poorlywife, Nebraska-born Jean Thomson. (Divorced blithely mixed a modern mirror fireplace, French designed. And taxicabs! Why should you crawlin 1945, they parted “the best of friends,” and period pieces, an Oriental shrine and a crystal into a cab on your hands & knees and then beshe still has a 4% interest in his company.) chandelier reminiscent of Versailles. Instead of unable to get out of the deep seats once you get His first big chance came when Sears, Roe- scattering his considerable collection of modern into them? Subways are dirty, noisy, unattrac-buck & Co. hired him in 1934 to dress up its art (Picasso, Miro and Matisse) about the room, tive. The American soda fountain is disgraceful;Coldspot refrigerator, an ugly machine with a he hung them all frame-to-frame on one wall, anyone who has ever smelled the midsummer-dust trap under its spindly legs, and corrugated used a big Dufy as a hinged cover to conceal night stink of a sloppy soda fountain—decayedshelves inside. Loewy moved the motor from his television set which is built into the wall. Some hamburger, sour milk, mustard and vanilla—cantop to bottom, chopped off the legs, and installed visitors might quail at such a mish mash, but never forget it. The same goes for a telephonethe first non-rusting aluminum shelves ever to Mrs. Loewy loyally approves it all, saying “I think booth. Must one be crowded into a cramped,be used in a refrigerator. The Coldspot became he has good taste.” Loewy himself has given a unventilated closet, use a mouthpiece which hasa single smooth, gleaming unit of functional sim- more complex definition of his special talents. been breathed into by thousands of people? Whyplicity—and with it Sears’ sales shot up five-fold Says he: “Good design keeps the user happy, not a two-way loudspeaker instead? Lincolnby 1936. Loewy had been paid only $2,500 for the manufacturer in the black, and the esthete Steffens advised his son, who was worryingthe job (and had spent nearly three times that in unoffended.” about what remained to be done, that nobodyexpenses), but Sears was glad to pay him Clay Impressions. In the brave new world of had yet made a faucet that didn’t leak. Well, it$25,000 for his next job. His reputation was industrial design, the brave new designers were no longer leaks—but why not do somethingmade. hard at work trying to keep users happier by hun- about the faucet itself? Is it necessary?” The Flea Market. As fortune followed fame, dreds of new products.he began spending some of the fortune on his Must telephones have their numbers wherepersonal tastes—which are expensive. He usu- the dialing finger obscures them? Designer