Picture the Exxon logo. A Greyhound bus. The Coca-Cola bottle. The blue nose of the President’s plane, Air Force One.
What do they have in common?
Only one thing: an industrial designer named Raymond Loewy.
Loewy was an immigrant who arrived in Manhattan in 1919, dreaming that New York would be an elegant and stylish place. When he arrived, he was disappointed. What Loewy found was a grungy product of the industrial age — “bulky, noisy and complicated.”
Loewy decided to change things, designing products that ranged from Lucky Strike cigarette packs to International Harvester tractors. He did “more than almost any person in the 20th century to shape the aesthetic of American culture.”
During the Kennedy administration, Loewy complained to a friend in the White House that the commander in chief’s airplane looked “gaudy.” Determined to improve it, he spent several hours on the floor of the Oval Office, cutting up shapes of blue paper along with President Kennedy. Finally, he settled on a design for the nose of the plane that has been in place ever since.
So, what was Raymond Loewy’s secret? He sensed that consumers are torn between two opposing forces: a curiosity about things that are new and a fear of anything that is too new. As a result, they are attracted to products that are bold but also instantly comprehensible. Loewy believed that people want things that are “Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable,” a phrase which can be shortened to MAYA.
Think about how MAYA works in your own life. You probably find yourself drawn to the joy of a new discovery. But at the same time you want something familiar, because it makes you feel safe. Think of the iPhone by Apple. When it was introduced in 2007, it was a thrilling new discovery and it launched a new era of smartphones. At the same time, it was not too radical for customers to accept. The iPhone was familiar to people who had been introduced to iPod music players back in 2001. Over the course of six years, consumers had become accustomed to their distinctive shape, size and design.
When the iPhone appeared, it was advanced. And yet, the iPod made it acceptable. It was Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable. MAYA.
Raymond Loewy believed that people are torn between a curiosity about new things and a fear of anything too new.
How is MAYA at work in your faith community? How is MAYA at work in your own life? As you think about the ministry of Jesus, you discern a certain level of MAYA in the way He kept the faith while pushing the envelope.
Maybe a little MAYA in our community and in our churches would bring about a world changing experience.