"My only regret is not to have created the egg, this perfect shape". Why does the man who designed President Kennedy's Air Force One make this bitter observation in his memoirs? A genius designer, a true Mad Man, Raymond Loewy nevertheless touched everything that flies, rolls or floats, designing the identity of the American way of life and leaving as a legacy a number of logos that we still come across every day*.
Born at the end of the 19th century, he designed an airplane powered by a simple rubber band at the age of fifteen and marketed it the following year. Ten years later, Loewy flew to the United States with just forty dollars in his pocket.
Loewy hates the expression of complexity, and throughout his career, he will strive to make objects of questionable aesthetic beauty beautiful. He was first fired from Macy's for daring to offer a showcase with visionary simplicity and far too much of a breakthrough for the time: a single model in an evening gown, a mink coat lying at his feet...
The first industrialist to benefit from the talent of the man who would also say that "ugliness doesn't pay" was Sigmund Gestetner. To the complex and smelly workings of Gestetner's forerunner of the photocopier, Loewy contrasts a grille with the futuristic aesthetics of the time. It conceals the workings, the object appears simple to use and sales take off, as does Loewy's career as a designer.
He has just invented a style - streamlining or aerodynamics of form: achieving beauty through function and simplification. A vision shared by those le grammewho strive to express the essence of the object and the material in each of his creations.
As a designer, engineer, decorator, psychologist, architect and advertiser, Loewy approaches each of its projects through the prism of this formal aerodynamics: the Coldspot refrigerator, the Lucky Strike package, the Studebacker car...
Like many other Loewy creations, the Pennsylvania Road locomotive designed for the World's Fair is inspired by the egg, its unique ovoid shape that allows any force exerted to spread over the entire shell. This distribution of forces had already been observed by medieval architects and had generated the warhead crossings in churches. Although a believer, Loewy did not design a church, nor did he design coffins or grenades, which were, according to him, the only two objects that could not be redesigned.