Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The man who designed the 20th century

Industrial design might seem pretty far off the usual track of this blog, but I think that an artist should know about aesthetics in general. A few weeks ago I was boring you with Greek vases, tonight I am going to begin a two part series on the greatest designer of the 20th century, Raymond Loewy. You have been seeing his work your whole life, probably without being aware of who he was, or that one man designed so many familiar things.

Born in France in 1893, Raymond Loewy served and was wounded in World War I. After the war he emigrated to the United States still wearing his officers jacket with 50 dollars in his pocket. His first jobs were doing window dressing for New York city department stores. He then began to do fashion design with some success. However his life's work began when in 1929 he was commissioned to redesign the Gestetner duplicating machine. It looked something like this, a late 19th style of design, utilitarian but homely.

Raymond Loewy produced this.

This is a cowling that fit over the sort of unit above. it looked clean and modern. Loewys design looks normal enough today, but in its time it was very hip. Loewys influence has been so great that it is easy to overlook his enormous influence on industrial design. We see his designs, or their influence, about us every day. This design led to more commissions and over his life, he produced hundreds of designs that we take for granted as part of the "modern" era. Many of his designs were "streamlined. That was a rounded off, slicked back and aerodynamic look which characterized much of the 20th century. Here is a design you may have see for the logo of a fine tobacco product. This is one of the landmarks of modern package design.

also designed this well known logo.

This logo was so effective and well known that Shell discovered they could omit the actual company name in their advertising and merely show this symbol designed by Loewy. Here is another of his logos.

Lowey began to design all sorts of things besides logos here is an example. Here is a design for a refrigerator.

More tomorrow. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

I have a few spaces left in the three day workshop to be held in Charleston, South Carolina. It will be fun to meet those of you who read this blog from the low country. As usual the workshop is open to all levels of experience and will run from Saturday, December 11 until Monday the 13th. I will teach outside and will demonstrate in the morning and then run from easel to easel teaching for the afternoon. I can save you years of screwing around learning to paint outside.
Here is the link to sign up. Class size is limited to 10 and given the short notice on this one might be very small indeed. People are starting to sign up, so reserve your space.


Unknown said...

what a surprise topic! I love it! I have a couple of old Lucky Strike tobacco tins. I think maybe in South Carolina that tobacco is considered a vegetable. You can probably stock up on fine tobacco products while there.

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with all the family, including the furry felines - we truly have so much to be grateful for.

Lucy said...

A simple, beautiful design says it all. It goes right back to that Sargent of last night too. Great design!
By the way, the vase posts were fascinating and inspiring,
Not boring!

billspaintingmn said...

I'm off to "gobble" up some turkey later today.
(I hope to design better puns),and I do hope to design better paintings!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Pat Jeffers, Artist said...

Thank you for your wonderful blog, for the education all year long. It's never boring, always more than welcome. I'm so grateful someone recommended it to me and I, in turn, have sincerely handed it out like candy to artists I know. Happy Thanksgiving Stape!

Anonymous said...

Hi Stape, You will be thanked at our thanksgiving table today! I know 'when the student is ready the teacher arrives' and that is what happened when I decided to pursue art and found your blog. You have informed, cajolled, lectured, ranted, raved, and seduced me into the endlessly difficult and so sweetly rewarding quest to get my hand to do what my eye dreams of. I am now totally addicted, 10 years younger, wonderful group of friends and loving should be bottled! I recommend your blog to everyone. Thank you so much for your time and effort; you will never know how much your work has benefitted us. Have a blessed and warm Thanksgiving, Terry
'prootsh' something you can't be and read this blog!

Judy P. said...

Happy Thanksgiving Stapleton- I am thankful that I have your blog to read every morning with my coffee.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. We are here and thankful. At least I am, the cats may just take it all for granted as their just desserts.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Happy Thanksgiving. Stay warm out there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you also!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, I am touched, I "cc"ed my wife so she would see how nice I am.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you also. Everybody is thanking me today. That's nice. Thank you or reading all of this stuff I churn out. I am glad you found it useful.