Sunday, April 27, 2008

The GREAT ones hit you like a bolt out of the blue

Something we can all share - at least those of us who spend our waking hours thinking about cool cars - is a fatal attraction to pouring over designs and deconstructing each of them into its finest details. Do you find yourself noting the difference in ride height on Ferrari 599 pictures, or staring into the tailpipes of a 911 Turbo to see where the cosmetic chrome ends and the real business begins. If this description fits you, then you will be able to relate to the subject of this night's post:

"When you see it, you know it is good."

Bad car design is abundant but roundly ignored.
Solid car design is ubiquitous and hard to overlook.
GREAT car design is rare and it hits you like a bolt out of the blue.

If I were to try to put a number on it, I would say that we see 1000 solid designs per week, and only a couple strike me as GREAT. Of course, my preference is probably different than another person's, but the ratio of Good/GREAT is probably the same in all of our minds.

The good news here is that when you see it, you know it right away. GREAT design is unmistakable, and you spend the next couple of days dreaming about it. It goes into a special place in your soul, and you will always remember it. It can be effected in a pen sketch, charcoal, photograph, model, rendering, prisma, gesture...doesn't matter, but when it is right it is right.

The bad news is that it can take a long time for that GREAT design to come along, and you cannot predict when it will land itself in front of your eyeballs. Often I find that I cannot rely on a great designer, who might have done it before, to bring the heat again. Repeat success is elusive.

After having seen the thousands of designs that have begun to collect in the Local Motors Community, no doubt you have chosen your favorites. (Soon we will deliver a way for you to begin to track them!) But if anything has become clear it is that greatness shows itself in the most unexpected places. Sometimes it hits you when you are tired; Sometimes you want a supercar and a microcar steals your heart; Sometimes you can't even bear to admit you love it but your can't take your eyes off it; and on and on and on.

We autodesignphiles suffer from the same delightful myopia: we only have eyes for the GREAT ones. Well, if that is you, take heart they are out there and capable of taking your breath away.

Grace Patricia Kelly -

Mercedes 300 -

Michangelo's David -

Eero Saarinen -


Robin Spinks said...

I see the beautiful pictures of Grace Kelly and David, but REALLY great design must also function. Where is the balance? Are the most beautiful lines also the ones that test best in the wind tunnels? Can an engine fit under the hood or trunk of the most beautiful car lines?
Good luck finding the bolt out of the blue and making it work!

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