Monday, January 7, 2008

Exploration of Car Design - Chapter 2 - Design Showcase

What is it that makes designers design?

This is a critically important question. I am certain that it does not have one correct answer. I can hazard a few guesses: money, fame, infamy, critique, posterity, adulation, academic prowess, personal satisfaction. In some ways, all of these are right and the list is probably not even complete. Nonetheless, the anecdotal evidence points to a few of these reasons as critical. These "few" are focused on the process of feedback for the designers. Whether it is "fame, infamy, critique, posterity, adulation" each of these reasons assumes that a designer actually cares what a consumer of there design thinks. Hence the Showcase phenomenon.

A good example of this phenomenon is the set up of web sites that promote portfolio submission of car designs. Take for example,, this site is in large part an aggregation of transportation designers and their portfolios. Each designer has a place to upload a relatively full CV of skills, designs, education, etc. and each viewer has the ability to rate the designers portfolio.

Whether it is an innate human desire for interaction and validation, This phenomenon is not unique to car design and it seems to be that web 2.0 is a perfect forum for achieving this type of modern day show-and-tell.

Take for example the creation of a site and community such as that found at the web 2.0 T-shirt company Graphic artists (both trained formally and informally) come to this site to try their hand at competing to be "printed", and the judges are really more the community of peers than anything else....hence Web 2.0.

A little on how it works: Once you submit a design, it is viewed and graded by onlookers to the site (other artists, shoppers, and random visitors) each of whom can, and do, leave their rating and verbal feedback. An example:

This design had 1600 people score it, and 66 comments posted to it. Picking one comment at random:

It is clear that people have detailed reactions and they post them for the artist to reflect on.

In short, at Local Motors we are creating a community where designers can come to be critiqued and adored for the vehicles they pen... What is perhaps the most exciting is that the adoration (in its highest form) comes in the fact that we will actually build many of the winning cars. If you are a designer, I ask you to think on that promise for a little while. Where else can you turn to for that type of validation in the auto industry?