2 Min Lesezeit
© lepoix-archiv
© lepoix-archiv

Even in smoke-free times, almost everyone knows the BIC one-hand lighter (1971). And at least older people will remember the Kienzle parking meter (1956) parading in long rows on city pavements. The world’s first crutch, a Bugatti T 101, the Puch Maxi, the Steyr Citybus, motorbikes and scooters (including the Kreidler Florett), as well as lorries, small helicopters, tractors, construction machinery, household and electrical appliances, typewriters, cameras – all these and much more were designed by Louis Lucien Lepoix (1918 to 1998). Few people know his name, but many do recognise the 3,000 or so products that the industrial designer created over five decades.

Now, from 9 December to 11 February 2024, the designforum Wien is showing a comprehensive exhibition entitled “Louis Lucien LEPOIX. With the Citybus to the Wind Turbine”, a comprehensive exhibition on the work of this prolific universalist. According to the announcement, the exhibition is a first introduction to the designer Lepoix (often referred to as L3) and his extensive oeuvre. On display are “products, techniques, models and, in particular, his visions as a designer who was involved in universal design and alternative energy generation at an early stage”. The presentation has seven main themes and will also be shown in Germany, France and Asia in the coming years. Like the Lepoix archive, the exhibition tour is the initiative of an association founded in 2021, whose aim is to “connect the well-known products with Lepoix through high-quality exhibitions worldwide in order to convey the joy of design, design expertise and, above all, his visions to a broad audience, including young people”. The show was made possible thanks to years of archive work by Erika Kübler, the “grande dame” at L3’s side.

Today, the French engineer and designer is considered one of the most productive industrial designers of the post-war period. Lepoix began drawing his first vehicles in 1947 in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance; in 1952 he chose Baden-Baden as his home and place of work (due to a lack of commissions in France). From there, his design studio “Form Technic International”, which later had branches in Paris and Barcelona, worked together with renowned car manufacturers of those decades, among others. In the wake of the oil crisis, L3 turned to ecological design. For urban mobility, he designed the small car “Urbanix” (1972) as well as numerous, seemingly fantastic wind power and solar systems. By the time of his death in 1998, his designs had been honoured with over 300 international design awards; in 1984, the FZR “Side-car” was added to the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

As part of the exhibition, the conference “The rediscovery of the French industrial designer Louis L. Lepoix (1918-1998)” will also take place on 8 December at the designforum Vienna, organised by designaustria in cooperation with the Gesellschaft für Designgeschichte and the Lepoix-Archiv e.V. Since, significantly, there is not a single design by Lepoix in the database of French design museums “Les Collections Design”, the conference will be dedicated to the international influence of French industrial design using Louis L. Lepoix as an example. The presentations will cover topics such as “L3 and the changing automotive industry”, the Steyr City Bus and the design of the Steyr-Puch “Pinzgauer”, “L3 design in miniature models”, “Lepoix and universal design” and “the LEPOiD: my friend the wind”.

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