Mannequins according to Loewy
Today I would like to analyze this beautiful article written by Eric Feigenbaum which talks about Raymond Loewy, defined by many as the father of industrial design.
Raymond Loewy was an important French industrial designer active mainly in the United States from the beginning to the mid-20th century. During his career he designed practically everything: from lipstick to locomotives. His portfolio includes the Coca Cola bottle, the Champion model of the Studebaker car company, the Greyhound buses, the logos for the United States post office for the Shell oil company and for Lucky Strike cigarettes... he even designed the interior settings of the Skylab, NASA's orbiting laboratory.
Before his illustrious career as an industrial designer he had a brief experience as a freelance window dresser in the famous Macy's store chain, and it is on this experience that, given our sector, we want to focus.
One day, during his time at Macy's, he dressed a mannequin in a night gown, placed it in the window with 2 spotlights shining on it, and the following day he quit his job right before he was fired. Why? In the previous days the sellers had tried to dress the mannequin with any garment available but Raymond's answer was always the same: no. He knew perfectly well that that day his mannequin should not have the purpose of simply selling a dressing gown but rather of projecting the Macy's brand out of the window, onto the street in order to involve passers-by and capture their attention as they look at the window. Loewy said: “Simplicity is the determining factor in the aesthetic equation.”
Loewy talks about the importance of mannequins on 2 different levels:
Mannequins should not only be considered as luxury clothes hangers but are important touchstones for the brand. They give the seller the opportunity to engage customers by letting them know “This is who we are, this is what we have to say and this is how we say it”. It's not just a matter of the product the mannequin is presenting, although that's clearly important, but it's also the philosophy of the brand itself.
Surely Loewy, today, would appreciate all the mannequin manufacturers who have elevated this profession to an art form. To those who ask for greater realism I would respond like this: an object becomes art when it is capable of generating emotions and art, in turn, generates emotions when it is evocative, not overtly, but rather by suggesting an idea.
To conclude we use 2 words said by Loewy himself: Visual Retention. This should be the inherent purpose of every mannequin. The mannequin in the window must be in some way the materialization of the brand itself and to achieve this it must be easily recognizable and well associated with our brand.