Gladstone Hotel Elevator Button Plate. The great 20th Century French-American designer, Raymond Loewy, had a tremendous influence on streamlined-looking fashionable product and industrial designs, including decorative hardware plates for light switches, electrical outlets and the very special solid bronze elevator stop button plates of Canada’s magnificently restored Gladstone Hotel.

Loewy’s influence was without precedence. His own original designs included the iconic 1934 locomotive for the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Greyhound Silversides motor coach of 1940. He affected all forms of interior fashion, from the late 1920s to the 1950s. Other designers copied his streamlined look in electrical plates, toasters, radios, clocks, chrome furniture and Bakelite cabinet knobs and pulls.

The Toronto Gladstone Hotel was built in 1889 in the high Victorian Richardsonian Romanesque elaborate style. Its 1907 Edwardian elevator likely originally had utilitarian or decorative stop button plates for each floor, but at a later date, probably around 1930, had new bronze late-Art Deco Streamline Moderne design plates installed for each floor.

The Gladstone was restored in 2004 and 2005, led by the talented Canadian architect, Eberhard Zeidler, retaining the button plates. The Streamline Moderne style emphasizes speed and efficiency, ideal for elevator push buttons with plates that suggest quickly moving elevators. Raymond Loewy was famous for his opinion that good design should distract from “noise and vibrations”, no doubt typical of an elevator in motion!