So… Is Teutonic Car Design Obsolete?

Maybe.  Thanks to an over-saturated marketplace where brands have to scream and holler to get their voices heard. Dieter Rams and Dieter from Sprockets might recoil in horror, but that’s the cold reality we’re faced with. Flame surfacing and bedazzled headlamps sell cars.  So, what is a minimalist-minded designer to do?

Some might say, “Suck it up and adapt.” And for the foreseeable future, they’re right. One of the most common errors car designers make is to assume that everyone is a car enthusiast like them — or worse yet, assume everyone is a design enthusiast, like them.  It’s an easy mistake to make; I should know.  For a long time, I just couldn’t accept that all the good taste drilled into me at CCS was now passé, simply because it wasn’t obnoxious enough to sell cars.  It’s a tough pill to swallow.  But for the benefit of my mortgage and my day-to-day sanity, I did.  Gulp.

So back to the original question. Does all this mean Teutonic car design is obsolete? Maybe.  Then again… maybe not.  Perhaps this is all just temporary.  Consider what happened to American car design in the wake of the 1958 recession.  Suddenly, all the jet-aged, tail-finned, twin-turbined, dynaflowed imagery had run its course. The design pendulum began to swing back in the other direction — towards cleanliness and understatement.  Elegance and simplicity.  Car designers had to adjust, and they did. Compare a 1960 Continental to the 1961 model, and you’ll see what I mean. My point is this: It’s quite possible that someday, some year, the market will grow weary of  “surface entertainment” and yearn for something more honest.  When that will happen is tough to pinpoint, but history suggests that it eventually will.

So maybe our Dieter-from-Sprockets sensibilities aren’t so obsolete after all. Maybe they should just be kept in cold storage for now.  Or better yet, re-purposed towards other activities, like interior detailing.  Food for thought in the “hey look at me” car design world we find ourselves in.  At least for now.

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