President's Column

Design as a profession

Author: Prof. Dr. Peter Zec | 2017-02-02

Design-more precisely, industrial design-became a profession in the 1930s, when many independent design studios were set up and grew in a short time to small, or even medium-sized enterprises with more than 50 employees. One of the top design entrepreneurs in the world, Raymond Loewy made the following statement in his autobiography Never Leave Well Enough Alone: “ During the period of less than 20 years, the industrial design developed from an unclear prospect an important commercial phenomenon in the U.S. economy, according to the Times. The emerging industry rapidly established its position, make world realized that the role of the industrial design is as important as advertisement marketing."

Raymond Loewy was in France and immigrated to the United States in 1919. At first, he earned a living as a freelancer, taking on a wide range of projects, from window design to fashion magazine illustrations, virtually paving the way for his future design empire. Loewy's short rise as a pioneering design entrepreneur is seen in the industry as a guarantee of success. Loewy and his team's designs span almost every industry, from packaging, advertising, logos, cars, locomotives and appliances to the decoration of supermarkets, department stores and offices. By the late 1940s, Loewt's accomplishments had made him so famous that he made the cover of the Times magazine on October 31, 1949, with the headline, "Designer Raymond Loewy Made Sales Rise in a Linear Wat."Four years later, he was featured on the cover of Der Spiegel under the headline "Ugly Stuffs Don't Sell. Join the High-taste Group: Designer Loewy" (9 December 1953).

More notably, in American magazines, the value of Loewy's work lies in increased sales, while in Germany the emphasis is on good taste and the rejection of ugly design. With one side focusing on the commercial profits and the other on the socio-cultural benefits, it is clear that there is a big difference in the way that the U.S. and Germany views design.

In the United States, design has long been seen as a business transaction between designers and manufacturers. The task of the designer is to help the manufacture increase sales and profits. In contrast, Germany emphasizes the cultural and social value of design, and the benefits of good design for business are not completely ignored, but they are not addressed.

Taking design as a career means being sensitive in business world. Raymond.Loewy understood and succeeded in doing this, something no other designer had done before, and was therefore accepted and respected by other entrepreneurs. The success of loewy was also the success of the companies he worked with as well as the increased sales of products. This view, and its attendant achievements, is the basis for other entrepreneurs to trust and have faith in his. And that trust is the best promise of the business success that is hardly to verify. Raymond Loewy is perhaps the best example who professionalized the career of design, and I hope that more design entrepreneurs will follow his steps.

※ This article is published on the design column of "uDesign"


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