Happy Birthday, Raymond Loewy

Google honors the father of industrial design; so does Scholars & Rogues

I have grown to really appreciate design in recent years. I’ve never had any formal training in it, unfortunately – what I know has mostly been learned ad hoc, on the fly. I have done a bit of low-level design work in the course of my work and hobbies, but I understand my limits. There’s a big difference between being a shade-tree designer and being a serious pro. I have had the opportunity to work with some very good ones through the years, and while great designers as a species can sometimes be a maddeningly OCD crowd, you always come away knowing more than you did before.

I enjoy the process and try to learn all I can.

This all said, I hope you saw today’s Google doodle.

I also hope you took a moment to figure out what it was all about and then to investigate the life and career of industrial design icon Raymond Loewy, whom Google was honoring on the 120th anniversary of his birth. It was sort of an odd moment for me. A little snooping revealed that not only am I familiar with some of his work, he was a key figure in one of my favorite design movements. As I said, though, I am not schooled in the history of design, and as such am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of him.

Maybe you’re familiar with his brand of Modernism, as well. Some examples:

You owe it to yourself to take a couple minutes to sample his résumé. Utterly remarkable in every way, and I find myself thinking what the world might look like today in the absence of his influence through the middle part of the last century.

A few weeks ago I found myself at a classic car show up in Edmonds, and I had a chance to take this shot. I didn’t know the Studebaker Commander was designed by Loewy, but it was hard not be impressed by the elegance of its geometries. I’ll offer it up as my 120th birthday present for a man I feel like I’ve known for years, even though I’d never heard his name before today.

Studebaker Commander

Doodle design courtesy of Google.
Loewy portrait courtesy of Braxton and Yancey.
Archival images courtesy of Wikimedia.


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