PERSPECTIVE | Timeless questions.

Theseus’s ship.

That mean anything to you?

Explore the wikipedia entry about it, and it might give you a little start. What makes a “thing” a “thing”?

So now you’re asking why this guy’s writing about a 2,000-year-old paradox on a car design website.

Which means it’s time to talk about lines vis a vis collective and transferred memory. [..]

REARVIEW | Car Design History by the People Who Wrote It


While digging up some history for an upcoming post, I came across this amazing set of interviews, all done in the mid-eighties by the Automobile in American Life and Society project at the University of Michigan.  Transcripts of sort-of-meandering conversations filled with fascinating bites of the history of American car design straight from the mouths of the people who directed it.  There’s  Bill Mitchell, who succeeded Harley Earl at GM, and Irv Rybicki who followed him.  Gene Bordinat’s, who ran post-war Ford’s design, excuse me: styling department for 19 years is particularly interesting (and long), full of anecdotes about the inner workings of the upper echelon of Ford Motor Company in the ’50s and ’60s. Plenty of others, too, like  Virgil Exner, Jr. talking about both his and his father’s careers and a lot of first-person stories about working for Raymond Loewy, and  Gordon Buehrig, who talks extensively about the processes involved in coachbuilt cars like the Duesenbergs and Auburns he was responsible for, complete with a great little one about how Auburn’s chief engineer tuned their eight-carb V-12 in the dark, by checking the color of the flames coming out of the exhaust.


There’s just a ton of fascinating history in these stories, and even though they’re clunky in their presentation, and quite long, they’re worth every word. If you have any interest in design history, you should check ’em out.


DESIGN STRATEGY |  Audi’s design future

Stefan Sielaff, Audi’s head of design, talks about Audi’s design future, electric vehicles, architecture, and the impact of urbanism on automotive design. Audi’s ongoing exploration of electric cars led to the Urban Concept, which was one of my favorites from last year’s Frankfurt Auto Show (probably because I have a thing for open-wheeled cars…). Certainly more exciting than Gordon Murray’s T25, though probably a lot less revolutionary in its production processes.

The relationship between urban planning and infrastructure and car design has always been fascinating to me. With the world’s populations shifting ever more urban, the ways that we interact with our cars and the ways our cars interact with the world around them have changed a little, but they’ll have to change a lot. And the sooner, the better.



PERSPECTIVES | We built a design culture.

Yeah, him.  Chris Bangle.

Vilified, and…. well, pretty much vilified.

But mostly when you read the comments in forums. I’m sure BMW’s board of directors thinks much differently.

For me, his work was a driving, defining sense of hope.


Watch this.

REARVIEW | Media and Messengers

“I wanted to get below the surface and demythologize the process.”

-Bill Porter, on the touring show he helped curate and oraganize, called Designing an Icon, Creativity and the American Automobile.

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