About : Biography

European appeal

Loewy has also left his mark on the area of store design. One of his early innovations, the first fully climate-controlled, windowless department store, was so well received that the Loewy organization formed a separate division devoted entirely to store design. Under the leadership of Loewy's partner, William Snaith, the company designed for prestigious clients such as Saks Fifth Avenue, J. L. Hudson, Macy's, J.C. Penney, Bloomingdale's and Lord & Taylor.

By the 1970s Loewy's New York office was engaged almost exclusively in store design. Loewy decided to sell the American company and to transfer the base of his design activities to Europe, because he said store design had "never been my particular field." Retaining the name Raymond Loewy International, he started a new firm in Friebourg, Switzerland, and accelerated existing operations in London and Paris. He discovered fertile ground for his interests, saying in an interview that, "industrial design in Europe is where it was in the United States 25 years ago." Loewy's efforts overseas found great success, and his Raymond Loewy International, now Loewy Group, is the largest firm of its kind in Europe.

Out of this world

A New York Times Book Review critic once commented, "Mr. Loewy has indeed changed the shape of the modern world." However, after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) solicited his skills, he was able to extend his range of influence even farther.

From 1967 to 1973 Loewy was retained by NASA as a habitability consultant for the Saturn-Apollo and Skylab projects. They needed him "to help insure the psycho-physiology safety and comfort of the astronauts" under the "exotic conditions of zero-gravity." His innovations, including simulating conditions of gravity and a porthole for vision contact with earth, made it possible for three men to inhabit a space capsule for 90 days. George Mueller, NASA's deputy administrator for manned space flight, wrote in a letter of appreciation: "I do not believe that it would have been possible for the Skylab crews to have lived in relative comfort, excellent spirits and outstanding efficiency had it not been for your creative design, based on a deep understanding of human needs."

In Mueller's estimation, Loewy's efforts had "provided the foundation for man's next great step - an expedition to the planets." Loewy agreed, later citing the work he did for NASA as his most important and gratifying assignment.

A legacy rivaled by few

In 1975 the Smithsonian Institution opened The Designs of Raymond Loewy, a four-month exhibit dedicated to "the man who changed the face of industrial design." Loewy later commented, "While working closely with the Smithsonian, I was provided with the opportunity to reassess the past." And what a past it was. Loewy - businessman, educator, illustrator and author - had undoubtedly established himself as one of history's most famous and influential designers.

Loewy and Viola moved to France several years later, where they enjoyed leisurely travel and a more relaxed lifestyle. On July 14, 1986, after a period of poor health, Raymond Loewy died in Monte Carlo, Monaco. He was 92 years old.

Loewy's death sparked a worldwide media frenzy over his immeasurable talent and contributions to industrial design. New York Times reporter Susan Heller wrote, "One can hardly open a beer or a soft drink, fix breakfast, board a plane, buy gas, mail a letter or shop for an appliance without encountering a Loewy creation."

Proven time and again, Loewy's design principals continue to be relevant years after their inception. Today, he has rightly found his place in history as the Father of Industrial Design.