Damn near everyone in the Industrial Design department at CCS said my engineering/gearhead/history buff background was killing my potential Car Design career. In hindsight they had a point, but most were complete jerks about it. With three art history courses at three different colleges in mind, automotive brands/models/trim levels do indeed nod to something more than PR-hyped styling takeaways: perhaps a vintage automobile, a vague reference to a sub-culture not normally associated with a large corporation, or an entire genre of fine art. But the Scion FR-S isn’t retro… (Read More…)
Sometimes we work too hard for success. We listen to others, constructive criticism or not, doing our best to make a change for the better. But are we really accomplishing that? I’ve always wondered if the ends justify the means. Not for me at CCS in Detroit: after trying to change myself to fit a certain mold and failing, I realized I’m totally okay with (most) everything I do. On or off the vellum.
I wonder if vehicles like the Infiniti JX are the byproduct of a design studio trying too hard to address criticisms. Or maybe this is just a common case of “over-styling” a vehicle. Either way, here we are.
Let’s be clear about one thing: racism sucks. Be it the recent, tragic temple shooting or some BS you experienced when doing/not doing what your culture demands, this is a fact of life. That said, geo-cultural influences are everywhere, including the car design biz. Take my time at CCS: one of my classmates was a South Korean lawyer who wanted to style cars for Hyundai. His work was unique amongst all studio creations, reflecting a culture that’s borderline impossible to understand by the uninitiated. Which is damn near every college kid.
This person’s work reminded me how culture influences design, and how people can negatively react to it. Which leads us to a flagship Mercedes heavily(?) influenced by a Mercedes design studio in Japan. Yes, Japan. So let’s get to it. (Read More…)
Sometimes designers become super stars in the car biz: just ask that dude who made the Ford GT, or the other dude responsible for the Chrysler 300. I am sure both made other vehicles which they truly hated. Perhaps the 300′s designer shares some amount of blame for the last Chrysler Sebring? I am sure that Ital Design’s Giorgetto Giugiaro has the same problem, but Hyundai wrote him a check and he made it happen. Quite honestly, the original Hyundai Excel here in the USA wasn’t a bad car at all. Bad looking, that is.
And honestly, after walking around this example at a historically savvy Hyundai dealer (next to a Lamborghini Dealership that bored me after 20 minutes) I suggest to you, dear reader, that the Excel sold so unbelievably well on both price and design. Because this machine could look much, much worse.
Circa 1998, I was mentally ready to move from the (lower-middle class) suburbs of Houston to the College for Creative Studies’ (CCS) dorm in the heart of Metro Detroit. Oddly my big surprise came not from Detroit itself, but from the dorm’s many Sony PlayStations…and something called “Gran Turismo”. I knew about the Nissan GT-R, but I was like every other kid playing this amazing game: absolutely blown away by the GT-R’s prowess.
That said, I raced all CCS’ contenders in “arcade mode,” in the big block ’67 Corvette. With the most power and the easiest to rotate chassis, I wasted most of my Japanese car loving dorm mates. The GT-R was/is rarely my weapon of choice in Gran Turismo. Which kinda explains my general apathy to the GT-R in the flesh. (Read More…)
It was 1986. One of the cruise ship’s ports of call was Puerto Rico. At a local gift shop, a 9-year-old boy received his first “nice” car model, a 1:18th scale Ferrari Testarossa. He’d spend far too much time in his stateroom, with no lights but the small bedside reading light, turning the model while admiring how the light danced over the curves and edges of Ferrari’s most influential car: a World Car in every way. The vehicle that refined the Super Car. It defined a decade, and warped the minds of several generations of car enthusiasts. And it took this boy to a Motown design school, and eventually to a little car blog called TTAC.
Sergio Pininfarina once called the Testarossa “an exaggeration in flamboyance.” A fitting quote for what must be the most famous vehicle to leave his design studio. And while he might be right, compared to today’s flamboyant Fezzas, the Testarossa was veiled in understatement and modernist modesty.
So let’s dig deep into the Mehta Brothers garage, and check out Dr. Mehta’s 1989 Testarossa: a car we’ve wanted for decades. (Read More…)
That’s a phrase I said many a morning when the studios at CCS woke up to a bumper crop of new student designs for the week. Just because you can visualize it doesn’t mean you can make it happen. Self pity/loathing aside, the 5th generation BMW 7-series is one of those visions in my head that I could never make. It’s not my cup of tea, and perhaps you don’t like it either. But the attention to detail (ATD) in this shockingly cohesive Luxury sedan implementation are not to be ignored. (Read More…)
One thing I heard over and over in the Transportation Design biz is how the real world of car design is nothing like what you learn in school. It’s probably the same for any Industrial Designer or anyone in the creative arts, but to a lesser extent. We are passionate about cars. To wit: my former CCS classmate Mike Chan is taking his education and automotive (okay, motorcycle) design experience to launch his own design: the Chrono Case. Do me a solid and check out the man’s hard work, and maybe consider participating in the Indiegogo funding thing. Why?
Because we all need to save designers from creating design nightmares such as the VW Routan. The weatherstripping is reason enough to become a design entrepreneur à la Mike Chan. From one CCS person to another, best of luck to you, Mike. (Read More…)
History repeats itself. I repeat, History repeats…well, you see my point. Which was probably one of the reasons why my creations in Car Design College were universally panned as being “too retro”, among other things. It was a similar fate given to Lenny Kravitz, except he was very talented in his form of artistic expression. And while you can’t “sell” most design studios on the power of history, I present to you the latest Nash/AMC Rambler.
I mean Nissan Leaf. You’ll have to forgive me for seeing the similarity between the two, in spirit, historical context and on the Vellum. (Read More…)
I can’t believe every automaker and their dog needs an entry-level luxury car, but some folks pull it off better than others. Case in point, this VW CC versus a Hyundai Azera or the (current) Lincoln MKZ. Which makes me wonder what designers say in the studio when trying to make such an upscale motor from a rather dowdy platform mate in the corporate stable.
I suspect a fair bit of cursing, especially for the poor souls tasked with the aforementioned Lincoln. And while badge engineering is a vital (yet terrifying) part of the game, me thinks the designers at VW had more leverage, more money and way more fun making this ride. Because the roof proves it. (Read More…)
Please believe: car design school is a frickin’ bizarre place. The phrase “I’m surprised you are here and not in medical school” was thrown in my face several times at CCS. And this verbal diarrhea came from people who take your tuition and are supposed to help you become a designer! But can’t I, a fairly smart South Asian dude, be more than what you assume?
Or do stereotypes exist for a reason? Like the beliefs held about the vehicle in question?
The newest VW Beetle reminds me of that old “Design School Sajeev.” (Read More…)
I’m shocked and honored by the warm reception the Vellum Venom series has earned from TTAC’s B&B. Your comments are read, digested and will influence the series, but some comments move quicker than others. To wit: Josh Howard’s photochop of my Chevy Cruze image.
“You were so right about the smoothing out of the Cruze front end and getting rid of the small fake DLO plastic piece in front. This car looks WAYYYY different and more Toyota-like with some of the changes you suggested. – JH”
Now imagine Josh’s changes with a bow tie in the center and we are done. This “Vellum Venom Cruze” looks Acura-like, a bit more BMW E36-like and much like any other classically proportioned sports sedan from the modern era. But wait, we aren’t done re-designing this little hit from the big General. Hit the jump for another rendering of Epic Win. (Read More…)
Here’s the thing about design school, and designers in general: you are taught to fully express your creativity…which sounds like a great idea in theory. In reality, there’s very little “reality” in the situation. This is a creative art for profit, by a multinational, publicly traded corporation. Design school students frequently have to un-learn their training if they want to make the nut.
When my freshman year Transportation Design class at CCS was tasked for a third world mode for transport, the teacher chose one country in particular: India. Luckily, since I’ve regularly visited that nation and know a tad bit more about it than most car designers…well, I thought I’d nail this one. Because who in India (circa 1998, and still to this day) can afford a car? Rich people, not the masses with no hope of education and/or career advancement…they stick with their feet or perhaps a motorcycle. Sad, but true. (Read More…)
After reading yesterday’s post about the future Euro-Trash Mustang, the sad reality is that most of us are incorrectly reading between the lines. Fortunately for me, I have a soapbox, slathered in venom: assuming Ford killed the Panthers, the Ranger, the Mercury brand and castrated Lincoln for a good reason, the Mustang shall remain rear-wheel drive with the requisite proportions. It won’t be a Probe, as the public/UAW outcry (with the ensuing hate mail to Ford execs) and the stunning (straight line) performance of the 1987 Ford Mustang 5.0 put those worries to bed. Even the Bruce Jenner Mustang wasn’t a big deal, so let’s all be cool.
Back to the Venom on the Vellum. As to the Mustang-Aston Martin connection, don’t sweat it: the original Pony car ripped off other designs for its unique take on Americana. So I welcome the future AMM, or Aston Martin Mustang! (Read More…)
I always wondered what it takes to make the top drawer trim level of a car…any car. From what I saw from my friend Jeff Sanders’ sketchbook for the (yet-to-be created) Ford F150 Harley Davidson, very little of what a designer actually “designs” makes it into production. A flare side bed with leather bags like a real Harley? Not a chance in hell, Mr. Sanders. Enter the lipstick on a P…Pony: the outgoing Shelby GT500 for 2012. (Read More…)