GM Inside News Forum banner
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,086 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
PDL did a follow-up to his previous column www.autoextremist.com

Last week’s column about “blandtastic” design stirred the pot yet again among the AE faithful as well as with industry insiders. Some readers were stunned at the profile similarities on display from the different manufacturers, which is understandable when you’re really able to see them juxtaposed against one another.
But then again, it shouldn’t really have come as a surprise. The members of the design community have mimicked and frankly ripped off each other for decades now. The design schools have contributed to this phenomenon by churning out graduates taught with similar perspectives who then go to work at the manufacturers’ design houses. Yes, of course, safety standards and interior packaging requirements come into play, but the systematic blandness that has overrun what should be the most exciting part of the business has resulted in a homogenization of design that is debilitating.
As I’ve often said, design is the Ultimate Initial Product Differentiator, and in the transition to the EV Age, compelling design will become even more critical. With similar battery platform designs – aka “the skateboard” – and other technical commonalities such as range and charging capability, the look and street presence of vehicles will directly affect consumer desire. That’s not to say that interior design isn’t important, because it certainly it is – after all, that’s where we spend all of our time when driving. But exciting, breakthrough interiors will never be enough on their own; you first have to lure the consumer in for a closer look, and it’s the exterior design that does that, no matter how impressive the interior is.
Since Day One of the automotive design business, which started with the “Art and Colour” department at General Motors in the 1930s under Harley Earl’s direction, the concept of design “reach” has been an ongoing battle. The easiest thing to do in the design business – before Earl arrived on the scene – was to stay the course, do a few tweaks and call it good. This attitude sustained itself more often than not over the previous decades. But in Detroit’s heyday, roughly from the mid-50s to the early 70s – when GM Styling (now Design) often set the tone for the entire mainstream automobile industry – every year was a momentous year, because "design reach" were the operative words of the day. Staying in place was not an option back then, and each year a series of breakthrough designs was unleashed on the long-since-lost “Announcement Day,” with the manufacturers vying for consumer attention with designs that made the previous year’s lineup instantly obsolete. (Planned obsolescence wasn’t always a bad thing.) And, Bill Mitchell, Earl’s gifted successor, was the absolute Maestro at it.
Understanding this and despite what I presented last week, all is not lost, however, as evocative designs – though few and far between – still have a way of surfacing, which is a very good thing. Given what I know, I have a few comments on what’s out and what’s coming…
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
You'd think a guy who has made a living off of critiquing the advertising, design (& manufacturing) aspects of the industry would at least bother to see exactly how old GM Design is.
 

·
Registered
2020 Chevrolet Equinox LT AWD
Joined
·
13,055 Posts
Staying in place was not an option back then, and each year a series of breakthrough designs was unleashed on the long-since-lost “Announcement Day,” with the manufacturers vying for consumer attention with designs that made the previous year’s lineup instantly obsolete. (Planned obsolescence wasn’t always a bad thing.) And, Bill Mitchell, Earl’s gifted successor, was the absolute Maestro at it.
gm needs to brush up on this, it might help. They have this knack it seems for letting things go stale and then crying the blues that the competition is bettering them and that they can't compete, thus throwing in the towel way too often. Their sedans is a prime example. Even if we get this all electric hail (to) Mary of products, who's to say it will be any different.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,119 Posts
No worries; the sedan competition is also 'letting things go stale' for years at a time.
It's not an individual corporate culture, it's that we're in the 95th percentile of automotive design.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,019 Posts
This is probably the most I have ever agreed with him. I used to take into consideration the drivetrain as my very first parameter when buying a new car. That is all going to change because all of the drivetrains will be so similar that it won’t be a big differentiator. Design both inside and out will become much more important, I hope.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,715 Posts
No worries; the sedan competition is also 'letting things go stale' for years at a time.
It's not an individual corporate culture, it's that we're in the 95th percentile of automotive design.
Opel have been stale for decades.

First choice drivetrain, instant purchase decision made in seconds at, Opel instantly fall at the first hurdle no visits to Opel showrooms in decades Hobson's choice, no choice, no visits to showroom!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,086 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
PDL had posted the 2nd part of "Design Matters".

I heard from a lot of friends in the business – especially in the Design community – who savored last week’s column (and the week before that) and added their points of view as well. Though my perspectives ruffled quite a few feathers (Really? We’re shocked. – WG), my points were well taken and agreed with for the most part.
To further understand why design matters, you really have to think about how design affects our daily lives, because pretty much everything we come across in an average day is directly influenced by design. One thing about design that remains true is that even if most people don’t understand the inner workings of the process, or the whys and wherefores, they respond to what they like emotionally, as in, I want to go there. Or, I want to be a part of that, or quite simply, I want that.
Think about it for a moment. Our eyes are drawn to logo and typeface designs of all kinds. For instance, just walking through a supermarket aisle is a test of that, with graphics, logos and colors fighting for our attention at every turn. Or, how about digital shopping? Everything we see is visually presented and orchestrated to draw you in. Fashion in and of itself is a design kaleidoscope of fabrics, colors and styling crafted to entice people in for a closer look. Shoes, one of the most important dimensions of fashion, are constantly being reimagined to create design “looks” that are new, fresh and juiced with enough I just have to have that style that make them irresistible, at least to those so inclined.
What makes us gravitate to one shoe or another? Design. What about to a coat or a particular pair of boots? Design. And how about furniture? Design. Everything we come across as we go about our day is directly attributable to design, from residential and commercial architecture to graphic presentations in videos and on TV, and everything and anything in between. Even mundane places – such as gas stations and their attached convenience stores – have graphic designs helping to create their look and feel. Design sets the tone and creates an ambience, and even if we’re not consciously aware of its power and influence, it is always there.
And when it comes to automobiles, of course, it’s no secret that the power and influence of design are magnified exponentially. Design not only matters in the automobile business: It. Is. Everything.
Let’s consider one segment for this discussion: The one that is still (quaintly) referred to as “pony” cars. Started by the Ford Mustang in 1964 and followed by the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Plymouth Barracuda, Dodge Challenger and even the AMC AMX among others, this segment – now most often referred to as “muscle cars” – has endured through a series of peaks and valleys over the decades. Consumer interest in these cars is notoriously fickle, usually gravitating to the newest and latest cars when they hit the market, to the detriment of existing competitors.
Why pick what is basically a segment in limbo? Because it gives a good example of purity of design, and a segment that isn’t dependent on the vagaries of whatever the four-door crossover “coupe” of the month is. (Besides, four-door crossovers are so tedious. -WG)
There are only three cars to talk about in this segment: The Ford Mustang (not the Mach-E, please), the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger. The Mustang is expertly rendered with proportions that I consider to be damn near perfect. It harkens back to the original fastback Mustang just enough, and despite the modern pony cars’ inherent heftiness, it looks crisp, uncluttered and clean. This is design that works.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,086 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Third time the charm as the old saying said. PDL posted the 3rd part od Design Matters www.autoextremist.com

By Peter M. DeLorenzo
In this conclusion of my series on Automotive Design (read Design Matters, Part I and Part II – WG), it’s clear that I place a high value on the efficacy and execution of design. It’s also no secret that I believe that design will maintain its position as the Ultimate Initial Product Differentiator going forward, in fact, even more so than ever before.
This series has generated a lot of comments from within the industry, especially – and understandably so – from the design community. I would say that the vast majority of the comments we received were positive, and that’s gratifying, because I have the utmost respect for the creative talents who work in the design houses all over the world.
As I’ve said many times before, the artisans who toil in design studios are the most influential people in the automobile business. They set the tone for brands and lead the word-of-mouth, “street look” discussions, and their visionary work can make – or break – a car company’s fortunes. It’s grueling work, too, because designers live in a particularly strange Twilight Zone where they have to dwell in the past and present, while working on a future that’s coming well down the road. That means lead designers have to present “new” designs to the media and public that have been basically “baked” three-to-five years before. Then they go back to their respective studios to put the finishing touches on designs that will appear five years into the future.
This work requires, vision, discipline and a savagely creative mindset that is instantly graded the moment the wraps are taken off of their latest designs. It is a tough, tough profession, but when you talk to designers, most wouldn’t trade it for anything. Seeing something in concept or production form that they had a key role in creating presents a level of exhilaration that’s extremely hard to beat.
That intro was kind of a labyrinthian way of getting to my final discussion topic, which is a question that I get asked all the time: “Given everything you know (and have discussed especially these past few weeks), who’s doing design well right now?”
That’s the billion-dollar question, isn’t it? Design matters more than at any other time in automotive history. In this 24/7, nanosecond-attention-span world we live in today, the hot “street look” of the moment captures all the attention and interest, and usually results in red-hot sales figures too.
Exotic cars lead the discussion, but just because a car is expensive doesn’t mean its design is automatically compelling. Unless, of course we’re talking about Ferrari. The newest Ferrari – the 296 GTB – is compact, lightweight and has a taut skin that stretches over its fenders and haunches to create a damn-near perfect form. It is simply extraordinary from every angle and it is the definitive supercar of the moment.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top