loewy average

my friends and i have been discussing this

why is it america can produce great architects, music, artists (jasper johns), and engineers (nasa), but haven’t produced a decent industrial designer since loewy

and even he was overly ornate (i mean come on, its a pencil sharpener mate, not a train) and average?

weird isn’t it?

Good point.

You’ve got
Rashid - Egyptian/Canadian
Newson - Australian
Dixon - UK
Lovegrove - UK
Hetherwick - UK
Stark - French
Fukasawa - Japan

Not to mention all of the Danish and eastern Europen masters.

Even all of Johnathon Ive’s team who designed the first IMac were Australian. Hence the inagural colour release of “Bondi Blue”

What say you Uncle Sam?

americans don’t consider creativity a plus unless it applies to solid arts. even that i think is kinda like forced to the point of spectacle rather than content.and if it’s called creative it’s something like loewy’s vision of future. a crude childish play of forms with no real content.

it all comes from boredom whereas in other places it comes from desire or a need for expression. of course i’m not saying that this factor is non-existant in other countries, but to a lesser extent. there’re a lot of wannabe hip copy-cats and followers of mainstream america everywhere. you can’t deny that.

Hardly! The US has many of the best Industrial Designers in the world… Just look at the firms! I think you’re talking about stylists… Certainly that list is full of them.

In the days of Loewy, Industrial Design was synonymous with styling.
In the decades since, usability, utility, and market segmentations have eclipsed styling as a compelling differentiator.

American consumer culture is ultimately to blame for not creating a demand for styling. The more products you have in a given category, the more it comes down to price and volume. I think many US companies are fine with letting the europeans own the low-volume high-tier.

Plus I think styling is a very solitary thing; American manufacturers won’t tolerate the inherant risk. (Apple being the exception of course.)

Michael Graves
Charles and Ray Eames
George Nelson
Burt Rutan
J Mays
Harley Earl

Michael “I’m stuck in memphis” Graves.
Surely we can do better than that


i tend to agree with that on the lower end consumer products but look at toyota for instance. it’s even beating GM after passing ford in america and you can’t say the consumers buy those cars based on volume and price. they have american designers in toyota but the company’s design direction is based in tokyo japan.


“Designing a new car means resolving differences between personal expression and market reality”

Maybe the problem is in the education of designers in the US?

Schools in the rest of the world seem to be more outward looking and are more often inflenced by other cultures and styles.

Maybe schools in the US should concentrate more on the importance of global design ideas and trends, and focus less on the insular trends of the next nike shoe or ridiculously large SUV…

Schools: The US has the best product design schools in the world. The other’s are “outward looking” only in that they promote art over function.

Designers: Loewy was from France.

But really, Dreyfuss was the true father of modern American ID in my opinion. Others had done design research, but Dreyfuss seems to be the first to collect massive amounts of data (like the Human Scale books) and also began to write down some basics of user research. To give Loewy his dues, he used to complain to the auto design students that he met because they were designing stuff that couldn’t be built (remember glass bubble roofs?). Loewy realized that if you can’t mass-produce a design, it’s value was low.

If you measure American design by these standards, I think we are in the golden age, and have been there since the early 1990’s. Like cg pointed out, where are the big influential consultants? IDEO, Frog, Smart Design, HLB, Design Continuum, etc. etc. Where are many corporate design centres? BMW has Designworx USA in CA, Thomson in Indiana, Nike in Portland. These are heavy hitters.

As for personalities, they keep behind the scenes a little more than Loewy (who sometimes stood in front of other people’s designs posing for photos). David Kelley from IDEO is in BusinessWeek every 6 months. That’s not bad. Even in auto styling, US designers are prominent. J Mays, Chris Bangle, the guy that designed the Boxster for Porsche (I assume he still there).

The most prominent bathroom accesory designers are not American, so what? (Although I bet if someone really knowledgable would stop by Core, they would list off a ton of Americans doing great design in this area). You are missing the good stuff, don’t let it whizz pass!

you forgot that guy in the maytag commercial.

Mr-914–right on–you’ve helped clarify it for me:

Europeans view design as fashion/lifestyle.
Americans view design as business/necessity.

I don’t recall any of these European name-brand designers winning any awards for medical or industrial products, or even any successful consumer products.

This is what good-design means to Americans (and mostly by Americans):


Ladies and Gentlemen:

Is anyone aware that Loewy was a French Immigrant, not a native-born American? In my opinion, Henry Dreyfuss was the best American Industrial Designer of the “Streamlined Decade”.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Shouldn’t you read before you post?

Designers: Loewy was from France.

:unamused: :unamused:

Oops… forgot. Here’s some more:

Norman Bel Geddes
Donald Deskey
Walter Dorwin Teague
Russel Wright


i’m sorry i disagree. bauhaus pretty much took care of modern design. it transformed not only the world of design from thinking in terms of fashion or lifestyle, which btw was the most restricting factor in manufacturing and design of consumer products at that time, but introduced an unconditional situation where the designer could conceptualize the true function of an object and actually give it a life of its own according and through that particular function, therefore creating a bandwidth of scalable production possibilities and enduser delight. it is true, america ignored bauhaus for decades but that’s america usually leaning towards fantasy more than accepting the truth.

in design we (professionals) look for critrical movements not some famous celebrity winning awards as a result of numourous market driven designs or a long career of meeting consumer demand and research in america or elsewhere.

i would like to point out to those schools and teachers who teach this material in US and ask them to restrain from teaching their students to follow the so called american design role models or heros when indeed they miss on the critical issue of understanding what design is all about. hopefully this idiosyncratic, secular attitude toward design will vanish from the american student’s minds and help them focus on the important aspects of design.

furthermore, namedropping is as much an insult to the intellect as trying to sell sugar for candy and don’t make ridiculous provocative salesperson type statements like “you’re missing the good stuff, don’t let it whizz pass” because that would serve as a double acting pump for us who more or less know about these mechanisms and deal with it almost everyday within our own design process and procedure.

The Metropolitan Museum of art: Americna Modern, 1925-1940:

From Lipsticks to Locomotives: Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes, Walter Dorwin Teague and American Industrial Design
April 2, 2004 – July 11, 2004

100 years of Design:

Bauhaus and Karim Rashid are both fashionable trendy design movements. Both tried to force their ideals onto the public. Not to mention that, for the most part, Bauhaus was an architecture and graphic design movement, not an ID movement. Note that Bauhaus furnishings still command a premium, so much for design for the masses.

I tried to bring some prominent names into this discussion earlier since that seemed to be the question originally posed, but I’ll try to broaden my scope here.

If some do not like the usage of names refering to the developers of contemporary American design, I guess we could say the movement is the industrial revolution. Before then, producers and designers were often the same people (craftsmen, like an iron smith or a carpenter). The industrial revolution created the environment for specialization of tasks, including ID.

Another movement might be capitalism. In the Soviet Union whatever the government bean counters wanted produced, was produced and forced onto the society. In capitalism one is forced to try to research the market and target their product. ID helps this.

As for education, most of my American teachers were obcessed with the Bauhaus and modernism. Strangely enough, it was my foreign teachers that, while honoring the creativity of the modernists, also pointed out their failings.

As for my salesmenship, I think it is more fun to enjoy the present than to lament on the past.

Bauhaus furnishings still command a premium because they are recognised as being well designed, premium quality, long-lasting pieces.
Design for the masses should not mean “cheap”
Most people can see the benefit of paying a little bit more for a better quality product.

I but a plastic chair from KMart, I dont care about throwing it away after 1 month. I buy a Wassily chair or Barcelona chair - I cherish it for life.

“Bauhaus furnishings still command a premium because they are recognised as being well designed, premium quality, long-lasting pieces.”

who we kidding? Bauhaus furnishings command premium bc those selling know their market. its not blue collar. its mostly elitists. those designs became product art. functional or not. intended for the masses, but marketed to the few.

“I cherish it for life.” spoken like a designer. not a consumer.

celebrity design is usually two-edged sword imo. designers talk Green. or designing for masses. whatever. maybe Bauhaus song and dance. but attach celebrity name, jack up price and its not for everyone anymore. then when they try to mingle w common people it makes the news. gag. maybe having no American design celebrities translates to democratic design? designers who design for clients and not for their own ego?

Marketed to the few now maybe, not in the 30’s and 40’s when they were mass produced.

Sure, now they are considered classics and are made in limited numbers they are sold at a premium.

You’re argument about adding a celebrity name and jacking up the price is no longer correct. Take Starks low-cost products for Walmart (or KMart is it?)
Sure they’re shit products, but its a celebrity name with a low cost and making them millions. Companies are realising the selling power of a “celebrity” designes name on a product, but the argument from the start of this post is that none of the “celebrity” names are US designers.