Thursday, November 25, 2010

Raymond Loewy 2

In 1932 Loewy began designing for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He is shown here standing on the S1 engine. Of course Loewy designed the cowling or "shroud" of the locomotive and not its innards. He has been critiqued as being a stylist rather than a designer, and perhaps there is something to that. However he made stuff look cool. The S1 is probably the largest locomotive ever built. It was slightly over 140 feet long! It was so long that it could only be used on a few parts of the line, because it couldn't negotiate tight corners. Here is a side view of this massive beast.

The large engine, built with a radical new duplex design in it's drive wheels had a problem with what was called wheelslip and was only operated for a few years. It was the end of the steam era and the steam powered engines were replaced with diesels. Loewy designed those too. Here is a streamlined design below, the T1 called the sharknose.

Loewy even reworked the designs and paint job of an electric engine called the GG1 for General Electric.

Loewy also designed, or "styled" the Farmall tractor for International Harvester. Below is one of those.

All of these objects bear a common aesthetic. They are powerful and blunt looking but elongated and swept back in appearance. They look tough and capable, and are simplified and slab sided.

Design is important because it is the intersection of aesthetics and our daily world. We have to look at the products of the industrial designer everyday. They can make our environment fascinating and beautiful, or oppressive and inhuman. The ideas that these designers use are the same in many instances as those that artists use. I think there is a little made argument for better art education in pour schools, based on this. If the general public is uninformed or disinterested in design, they will choose to fill the world about us with ugly products. A population with a little trained appreciation for design will want to acquire and surround themselves with beautifully designed things. When we teach our children art in school, the quality of that education may ultimately determine the appearance of the things we will have to see about us. Nowhere is this more true than in architecture and consumer and household products.,
Tomorrow, refrigerators, cars and radios.

14 comments:

Oggy said...

Also helped design the Tucker '48!!! :D

Deb said...

here is a link to an interesting article, written by an artist, about this "uglifying" of architecture in our culture. I found it very informative, and it follows what you are saying here...
http://www.greggkreutz.com/WrittenBY/box_boom.html

Pati said...

I make my way through the world as a a figurative painter, these days, but before that, I created beautiful interiors for people to live in, as an interior designer. I love what I do now, but in some ways, designing environments was more compelling because of the magic it created. There is nothing more uplifting than experiencing a well designed room, city, automobile, etc. I liked your post today.

Mary Byrom said...

Thanks Stapleton ! Great series! I have a soft spot for Loewy and all the work he produced. I know it well ...from my previous life as a surface designer, clothing designer and package designer...

Amy said...

I'm lovin' this thread of posts on design as I teach this subject at the community college level. Your excerpts on the topic ring truth on "making our world a more beautiful place". It's amazing how much of our daily lives are surrounded by design, the good, the bad AND the ugly!

billspaintingmn said...

A lot of cars today look like tennis shoes, boring. Do you think chrome is gone for good?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Oggy:
OK I will have to find a picture of that!
................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Deb;
I will check that out.
..............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Pati;
I like design too, It is an allied art to painting.,
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Mary;
What is a surface designer?
.....................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Amy;
Does it seem like more of it is bad than a century ago?
..................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

bill;
I think chrome is gone. Most cars today look like electric razors.
.....................Stape

Amy said...

@Stape - Absofrigginlutely! Great design, along with craftsmanship and quality have been compromised over the last century. Unfortunately, we live in a high-consumption, throw-away society fueled by corporate greed. Sorry to get off on a rant. But it is what it is. And your next post on cars...ahhh! Now that should be interesting!!

mariandioguardi.com said...

Hi Amy, Well having been on in designing and manufacturing a niche product in the USA that lasted and is still in use....though our company is out of business ,I can tell you it doesn't pay for a small manufacturer to make things last. We introduced our new product into the market in 1991 and they were all still in use in 2003 when we closed our doors due to market saturation. And most of those products are in use today...hard to find them even on eBay. That's why " they" don't make them like they used to. We didn't have enough capitalism in us to build in obsolescence.