The things that are most complex to design are those that appear the most simple. This rigorous approach is applied to the styling of each LE GRAMME object, whether we are talking about worn or functional objects, from a simple clasp to the display cases for its collections.
“My only regret is not having designed the perfect shape: the egg”. Why does the man who designed the Air Force One livery for President Kennedy voice his regret in his memoirs? A designer of genius, a true “Mad Man”, Raymond Loewy nonetheless had an impact on everything that flies, rolls or floats, designing the identity of the American Way of Life and leaving behind numerous logos that we still come across every day*.
Loewy was born at the end of the 19th century and at just fifteen years old designed a plane propelled by a simple elastic band, which he marketed the following year. Ten years later, Loewy took off for the United States with just forty dollars in his pocket.
Loewy detested the expression of complexity and strove throughout his career to make aesthetically questionable objects beautiful. Macy’s sacked him for daring to come up with a window display of visionary simplicity that was far too radical for the times: a single mannequin in evening dress with a mink lying at its feet...
For ten years, Loewy earned his daily bread working as an illustrator for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but his real interest lay elsewhere and his passion for objects never went away.
The first industrialist to benefit from the talent of the man who said “Ugliness doesn’t sell” was Sigmund Gestetner. Loewy replaced the complex, foul-smelling machinery of the ancestor of the Gestetner photocopier with a futuristic-looking calender. He concealed the workings, the object looked simple to use and sales took off, as did Loewy’s career as a designer.
He had just invented a design style known as streamlining: achieving beauty through function and simplification. A vision shared by LE GRAMME that sets out to express the essence of the object and the material in each of its creations.
As an industrial, interior and advertising designer, engineer, psychologist and architect, Loewy viewed each of his projects through the streamlining prism: the Coldspot refrigerator, Lucky Strike packet design, the Studebacker car.
And the Holy Grail of streamlined design, for the man who designed the iconic Coquelle casserole dish, is ironically the egg: simple, functional, beautiful; an elementary shape of the utmost simplicity echoed in the contours of the first object imagined by LE GRAMME: the plain bracelet.
Like many other Loewy designs, the Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive created for the Universal Exhibition was indeed inspired by the egg, whose unique ovoid shape distributes any force exerted on it over the whole shell. This phenomenon was already noticed by architects in the Middle Ages and gave rise to the intersecting rib design in churches. Although a believer, Loewy did not design any churches, nor coffins or grenades, which he considered the only two objects whose design could not be improved.
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