This Industrial Designer Created a Wealth of Iconic Transportation Images and Innovations

November 5, 1893

Industrial designer Raymond Loewy was born in Paris, France. Loewy would spend most of his professional career in the United States, and his wide range of design efforts included many with a transportation theme of some kind. These efforts started at an early age. When he was only 15 years old, for example, Loewy designed a rubber band-powered model airplane that he named the Ayrel. Loewy subsequently patented that invention and both produced and sold numerous models of it.

Loewy’s initial industrial-design commissions included styling work for the car manufacturer Hupp Motor Company’s Hupmobile. In 1937, Loewy entered into an especially productive working relationship with the Pennsylvania Railroad. His notable design contributions for that company included work on various locomotives (he helped set the S1 apart with its Art Deco-style shell), passenger-car interiors, rail stations, and promotional materials. 

Loewy had a similarly extensive and noteworthy relationship with another company focused on a different mode of transportation — the automobile maker Studebaker. Loewy’s team made such key contributions to that popular line of automobiles as replacing the longtime “turning wheel” logo with one highlighting the “S”; introducing front-flush fenders that helped define the models launched immediately after World War II; and developing the iconic bullet-nosed versions of the automobile that made their debut during the 1950s. 

Loewy’s other multi-modal design innovations over the course of his long career included various parts of the 1941 Harley-Davidson motorcycle’s “Knucklehead” engine; the highly influential Greyhound Lines PD-4501 Scenicruiser bus coach; the logos for both Exxon and Shell; Air Force One’s blue, white, and chrome livery; the interiors for the cargo liners SS Ancon, SS Cristobal, and SS Panama; and the Air France Concorde supersonic aircraft interior. Loewy died in Monte Carlo in the Principality of Monaco in 1986 at the age of 92.

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