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Streamliner

Hardback
, 344 pages

49 b&w photos

ISBN:
9781421425740
June 2018
Subject:
History
$39.95

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Streamliner

Raymond Loewy and Image-making in the Age of American Industrial Design

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Born in Paris in 1893 and trained as an engineer, Raymond Loewy revolutionized twentieth-century American industrial design. Combining salesmanship and media savvy, he created bright, smooth, and colorful logos for major corporations that included Greyhound, Exxon, and Nabisco. His designs for Studebaker automobiles, Sears Coldspot refrigerators, Lucky Strike cigarette packs, and Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives are iconic. Beyond his timeless designs, Loewy carefully built an international reputation through the assiduous courting of journalists and tastemakers to become the face of both a new profession and a consumer-driven vision of the American dream.

In Streamliner, John Wall traces the evolution of an industry through the lens of Loewy’s eclectic life, distinctive work, and invented persona. How, he asks, did Loewy build a business while transforming himself into a national brand a half century before "branding" became relevant? Placing Loewy in context with the emerging consumer culture of the latter half of the twentieth century, Wall explores how his approach to business complemented—or differed from—that of his well-known contemporaries, including industrial designers Henry Dreyfuss, Walter Teague, and Norman Bel Geddes. Wall also reveals how Loewy tailored his lifestyle to cement the image of "designer" in the public imagination, and why the self-promotion that drove Loewy to the top of his profession began to work against him at the end of his career. Streamliner is an important and engaging work on one of the longest-lived careers in industrial design.

John Wall, a former journalist, spent 23 years as a higher education public relations specialist at Penn State University and Juniata College.

"An elegant synthesis of Raymond Loewy's life and achievements, Streamliner is a splendid story and well told."

"With wry wit, John Wall's aptly titled and illustrated Streamliner covers Raymond Loewy's long twentieth century, from the Gestetner duplicator in the 1920s to the interior of Skylab for NASA. ‘Pure form,’ Wall explains about Loewy's stylish, self-branding industrial designs, ‘does not move the metal.’ With line and shape, Loewy in Wall's pages moves products big and small, from the Pennsy locomotive S-1, the Greyhound Scenicruiser, the Studebaker Starliner coupe, and the presidential Air Force One, to eye-catching corporate logos, the lipstick cylinder, and the Lucky Strike packet. A fascinating yet unhagiographic read."

"Raymond Loewy shaped the iconic images of postwar America. His sleek elegance branded consumer goods, cars, trains, Air Force One, and his own relentlessly perfected personal celebrity. John Wall vividly brings this design genius to life as a flesh-and-blood master of how we see the modern world."

"Streamliner ably summarizes the career of Raymond Loewy. Relying on a wide range of sources, John Wall provides the most expansive summary yet of the industrial designer’s career. Distinguishing this account from others is its emphasis on Loewy’s most successful design—his own image and reputation as a recognizable brand."

"My late aunt was a fashion illustrator and my first cousin is named Alfred Dreyfus. Symmetry? My good friend John T. Wall expertly reports and writes a fabulous book about one of the greatest inventors in history. Aunt Pat never designed a refrigerator, a car, or a train, but good lines are good lines. This is a delightful read."

"This meticulously researched biography of designer Raymond Loewy introduces us to an underappreciated genius—the man behind many of America’s most iconic product and logo designs. John Wall writes with elegant authority; it's clear from his cinematic and literary allusions that we are in the hands of a master prose stylist. Sit back and prepared to be informed and entertained."

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