Find out what makes things cool

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If this is what cool is, I don’t want to be it. If the Coke bottle is considered an example of great culture, I don’t want to be cultured. I find this commercialist idea of “cool” disturbing. I would expect an account of “what makes something cool (in American culture)” to ask why people like Allen Ginsberg or James Baldwin or Joan Didion are cool, and not what makes a product sell.


Surely, if you have to ask, you’ll never know?


i hate to be the one to point it out, but there’s no “r” in his last name.


I think it’s 12 year olds.


Raymond Loewy was in the business of designing things to be sold, so of course he defined cool in terms of sales appeal. You’re thinking of a different beast altogether.





I love it when they make a joke based on an assumption that isn’t true with the viewer. What song was he making that joke about? I must not be listening to the playlists the Atlantic is.

Q: What makes things cool?

A: Me.

flexes biceps

peels out on Harley


The Cornell Hurd Band - I Can’t Help Being Cool

True. But tell me this isn’t cool. I dare you.


I never listen to commercial radio, too old for dance clubs and house parties, don’t have teenage children, etc, etc, etc, and I’ve heard this song at least a hundred times.

Yup, Never seen this guy before and the song is new to me so I guess my media bubble has gotten even more fractured from mainstream.

Probably time to start throwing some more mainstream subscriptions to my already ridiculous youtube subscription list.


First of all, the name is Loewy. The only “R” involved is in his first name, Raymond.

He basically invented what is now called “industrial design”.
And his designs were so successful because they worked and added value.
Example: His iconic design of the Lucky Strike cigarette packet is based on the brand’s previous design, but vastly improved. The old design hat the logo on one side of the packet only, and the packet itself had a greenish hue. Loewy realized that every packet in circulation doubles as a little billboard. With the logo on one side only, there is a 50/50 chance that the logo won’t be seen when a packet is lying around somewhere or when somebody is holding it. So he put the logo on both (large) sides. He also modernized the logo and changed the packet’s colour from greenish to white, which saved a lot on printing costs.

His designs for vehicles were all made with an eye towards making them easier to assemble, using fewer parts for the bodywork. It’s easier to see that on the trains than on the cars, but if you compare Loewy’s designs with the corresponding previous models you’ll notice the difference.

So: looks better + is easier to mass manufacture = success.


The Coke bottle remains iconic over time but counter culture figures are trapped by their era.

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There just aren’t any objective benchmarks for “cool”.

(Except in a context in which “cool” actually refers to temperature and we can use a calibrated thermometer. And even then it’s difficult to reach some sort of consensus, as anyone knows who has ever had to share an office.)

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You’re not the only one who’s never heard it and I still actively go out dancing, just not to places that play this stuff.

Ironic, isn’t it? Counter culture figures are only remembered1) if at one point their work becomes so popular that it also becomes part of mainstream culture2).

1) Outside aficionados and specialists.
2) Which is much more diverse than it usually gets credit for. Well, from the hipsters anyway.