The Father of Industrial Design

Raymond Loewy

A Pool and A Book


At 83, Dad spent most the winter months in Palms Springs, CA. The area's climate suited him.

But Loewy didn't recognize the word retirement. He was as active, both physically and psychologically as ever.

Dad named his Palm Springs residence Tierra Caliente or hot earth. In 1947 Loewy and noted architect Albert Frey designed and built a modest three-bedroom house with a swimming pool that extended into the living room.

When I was young I remember my parents hosting numerous cocktail parties there, and it wasn't unusual for a guest to inadvertently slip and fall into the waist-deep pool.

One such occasion the famous actor William Powell suffered the same fate, Powell stood in the pool with his cocktail still in his right hand. To ease Powell's embarrassment, Dad immediately jumped in after him, cracked a joke, and summoned our butler to bring a fresh round of drinks.

Aside from the evening get-together's, Dad was always working in his studio which was located in a separate structure beyond the pool. It was there that my father undertook a monumental project - the book "Industrial Design," published by Overlook Press in 1976. Dad had just closed his New York office and felt the need to document his most significant designs for future generations.

As we currently experience a renaissance in modern design, I'm proud to announce the publisher has recently re issued Dad's "Industrial Design" with a new cover and an introduction by myself. Over the years it has become an essential text for design students and enthusiasts of the modern design movement. The 247 page tome spans more than fifty years of Dad's illustrious and sometimes controversial career; with 700 illustrations, sketches and photos.

As an aspiring journalist enrolled at USC, I vividly remember stepping into the studio when Dad was compiling photos and writing the footnotes for each illustration. His small studio looked like a bomb hit it. There were hundreds of photos and texts organized in rows lining every square inch of the beige carpet.

In the center of the workplace, stood a desk with Dad hovering before it, ruler in one hand and a pencil in the other. He labored tirelessly over the project; sometimes resuming at dawn and working through dinner. Dad's image was at stake and he knew it.

During the 1970's US industrial design firms were no longer in vogue. The majority of Dad's clients had established in-house design teams. Loewy, the sole surviving member of the industrial design founders; Dreyfus, Bel Gedes, and Teague, felt somewhat disillusioned in the US.

The day Dad announced to the family that the book was complete, he felt great pride.

However, it didn't take him long to resume his pace while monitoring the activities of his Paris and London offices.

Laurence Loewy

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