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    Thread: "Mannerism" in automotive design. Is the pendulum swinging back?

    1. Geriatric Member ByronLLN's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 03:47 PM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by Charlie84 View Post
      I think it's important to make the distinction between "clean" design and what I call "blank" design. The mere lack of adornment does not automatically make for a good design --I think a lot of "sophisticated" people often make this mistake! As if they say to themselves, "Oh, it looks like minimalism to me, so it must be terribly sophisticated!" Going overly clean just results in a lack of visual interest.
      Nailed it.
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    2. Member Rocco!'s Avatar
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      10-10-2012 10:00 PM #27
      Thanks for all the great discussion in this thread guys and gals, a lot of good points.

      I would agree that the surfacing and details of modern cars are what are being exaggerated, rather than their form factors. There aren't a whole lot of mainstream cars that really take the conventional shapes to their extremes (the ZDX and Crosstour come to mind).

      I think the Mark VII Golf is exceedingly handsome (ironic really, considering my choice of daily driver, but that's another story ), and I would agree that it is a clean design with interesting, cohesive lines and avoids being fussy.

      As for reflectors vs. projectors, I tend to like projectors when they are a simple design (sans LED DRLs) like on my Mazda3 and on the Golf (pre-2012). When you look at the GLI, though, I think the halogen reflectors fit in better with the clean lines than the new projectors do. They're busy and distract you from the horizontality (?) of the grille. My Mazda3 has combination high-low projector headlights, with detailing that ties in with the surface flowing over the front wheel well and into the beltline. I feel like the reflector high beams on other Mazda3s break up that character line, and also make the whole headlight assembly seem busy and crowded.

      Busy:


      Clean:


      Projectors:


      Reflectors:

    3. Member shaykes's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 10:21 PM #28
      Personally I think all the current VW models look like crap except the CC Sedan, The Jetta is the worst offender, I don't think that there is any doubt that VW has the worst exterior design of any mass market European manufacturer.

      They need to go back to the single plane type face vs. the swept back face nonsense, go back to flared arches and a bulldog like stance, all these say German to me and not the "swooshy bulbous nonsense";

      But then again new VWs are better built and cheaper than the cars they were putting out in the late 90s/early 2000s, they also are probably much better selling, but the passat was always a well built car IMO.

    4. Member Rocco!'s Avatar
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      10-10-2012 10:30 PM #29
      Quote Originally Posted by shaykes View Post
      They need to go back to the single plane type face vs. the swept back face nonsense, go back to flared arches and a bulldog like stance, all these say German to me and not the "swooshy bulbous nonsense"
      Not trying to be argumentative, but you're saying that this...



      is not a swept back face, and that this...



      is not bulbous?

      I would say that VW is making discernible steps away from the bulbous Mk5-era designs (whence the CC came) and towards more planar designs. I mean, the NMS Passat is downright slab-sided, especially compared to the B5 and B6.

    5. Member shaykes's Avatar
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      10-10-2012 10:37 PM #30
      Only the CC Pulls it off, and maybe the touareg, everything else is awful,

      The people who buy Jetta's now are the people who "don't care how a car looks", they just want an appliance with a cheap entry price.

      VW has been lost since they stopped copying Audi's design language.

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      10-10-2012 10:48 PM #31
      Did someone say busy and overstyled?


    7. Member Rocco!'s Avatar
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      10-10-2012 11:14 PM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by shaykes View Post
      The people who buy Jetta's now are the people who "don't care how a car looks", they just want an appliance with a cheap entry price.
      If you're arguing that the Jetta's bland styling is contributing to it's sales, I would agree to a point, but anonymous styling doesn't always guarantee good sales. For mainstream cars, I think it's size+feature content for the price. Just look at the Cruze and the Elantra, on opposite ends of the style spectrum, and both at the top of the sales charts. Same goes for Sonata and Camry.

      My fiance's mother bought an Elantra because it had a backup camera and a pump-up seat (she's short). I don't think she cared a lick for what it looked like. I think a car has to be really butt ugly to turn off the common consumer.

      VW "losing it's way" is an argument for another thread

    8. 10-10-2012 11:51 PM #33
      Quote Originally Posted by wheeltowheel View Post
      Did someone say busy and overstyled?

      http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog....eloster630.jpg
      I was pretty disappointed when they went from this



      to this



      I can't say I've seen the pendulum swinging back for the styling of cars. I think Luxury cars will lead the say; and the directions that Lexus and BMW are going seem more radical than in the past.
      Last edited by Ben010783; 08-31-2013 at 01:42 PM.

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      10-11-2012 12:53 AM #34
      I'm getting so sick of people acting like futuristic/radical-looking cars on sale today won't age well no matter what.

      From where I'm sitting, this



      looks at least as fresh as any of these





      and we all know which one got the knee-jerk backlash.

      I don't know if I see cars getting much simpler soon. I think it would be a step back--we had the Bauhaus/retro era and we moved on. I think the current design trends will be refined and become more elegant across the board. The new Mazda6 is a nice example.

      There will always be brands that stick to their own design motifs, though. Like VW, Land Rover and Mini.

    10. 10-11-2012 01:14 AM #35
      Anyone who has been to design school knows what 'Planned obsolescence' is
      Everyone thinks a Industrial designers job is just design the best and most attractive design possible

      This is simply not true

      Today in automotive design its all about installing as many of today's design fads into your design
      Not about designing the most attractive design possible, but just making sure its up to date with all of today's design trends, no matter how garish it might be. As long as it looks NEW. Most important is it looks out of date at the end of its Product life so you want to buy the new one

      The Hyundai Sonata is a good example of this. Purist will hate it but it is actually very successful in what it is trying to acheive

      I myself loved Automotive design, in the 80's I loved every thing ItalDesign was doing with their Shows Cars. I was certain all cars would look like these in the future..how wrong was I


    11. 10-11-2012 04:18 AM #36
      Quote Originally Posted by S4cabriofox View Post
      I'm getting so sick of people acting like futuristic/radical-looking cars on sale today won't age well no matter what.

      From where I'm sitting, this

      5 series

      looks at least as fresh as any of these

      a6
      m35
      e class

      and we all know which one got the knee-jerk backlash.

      I don't know if I see cars getting much simpler soon. I think it would be a step back--we had the Bauhaus/retro era and we moved on. I think the current design trends will be refined and become more elegant across the board. The new Mazda6 is a nice example.

      There will always be brands that stick to their own design motifs, though. Like VW, Land Rover and Mini.

      Those cars pictured had cleaner designs than their successors, in my opinion. While I do enjoy the comfort and interior refinements of their replacements, the previous generations will age better aesthetically. The design language used today is both busy and 'organic', if you will, neither of which age well. Brings back memories of the 3rd/4th generation Ford Tauri..


      Edit: Great topic, OP. TCL needs more threads like this.

    12. Member Rocco!'s Avatar
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      10-11-2012 07:43 PM #37
      Quote Originally Posted by S4cabriofox View Post
      and we all know which one got the knee-jerk backlash.

      There will always be brands that stick to their own design motifs, though. Like VW, Land Rover and Mini.
      I think the 5er got the knee-jerk backlash precisely because it did not stick to the established BMW design motifs.

      Edit: I wholeheartedly agree that the new Mazda6 still looks distinctly swoopy and Mazda-y, without jumping the shark.

      Quote Originally Posted by initiation View Post
      Edit: Great topic, OP. TCL needs more threads like this.
      Last edited by Rocco!; 10-11-2012 at 07:51 PM.

    13. Member HerrGolf's Avatar
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      10-11-2012 11:43 PM #38
      Will it be possible for design to be as simple as some may expect or desire when so much is being rationalized in terms of chassis architecture, shared platforms and differing markets' requirements? That Mk7 Golf is a great example of simple design and in many ways is lucky in its ability to "get away" with it, being, as it is, that market segment's progenitor. But what of the less established competition which must carve out market share next to it? There's a reason Mazda felt the need to take a gamble in making the current Mazda3 look the way it does.

      And while I really love the idea of car design becoming more simple and straightforward, it remains to be answered how a car like the new Mercedes A-class can distinguish itself from the Golfs/Astras/Focuses of this world, limited as it is, to the same general size and proportion as its competition. I can't say much for Mercedes' ability to design gorgeous cars of late, but if the pendulum is indeed swinging back, then they really dropped the ball with this latest model, as fussy as it is in its detailing.

      I think a lot of the sheer tackiness we are seeing in cars today stems from the fact that nearly all manufacturers are offering nearly all of their models in nearly all major markets. Gone are the days when you could have an Alfasud, a Citroen GS and an Opel Kadett sell strongly in different chunks of the European market, while Americans bought Vegas and VW Beetles. It takes a lot more superficial differentiation to sell cars which are fundamentally similar.

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      10-12-2012 01:55 PM #39
      A few of my favorite newer designs that either push their genres forward or coin new terms entirely:






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      08-31-2013 01:24 PM #40
      I'm bumping this thread in hopes of reviving it, because it is my favorite thread ever.

    16. Member atomicalex's Avatar
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      08-31-2013 02:52 PM #41
      I am glad you bumped it. I like this thread.

      A MkVI just came home in MI, I wanted to wait for a MkVII, but that did not happen. The halogen reflector thing is still a point that I take interest in. I am doing some work with Hella right now (a customer of my employer), and learning about what goes into headlamp design.
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    17. Senior Member Air and water do mix's Avatar
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      08-31-2013 03:34 PM #42
      Quote Originally Posted by atomicalex View Post
      I am glad you bumped it. I like this thread.

      A MkVI just came home in MI, I wanted to wait for a MkVII, but that did not happen. The halogen reflector thing is still a point that I take interest in. I am doing some work with Hella right now (a customer of my employer), and learning about what goes into headlamp design.
      Great! You will have a thread about it (that doesn't give away secrets you could be fired over, of course) in the near future, correct?

      I'm glad it was bumped, too. Not only do I like the subject, but I still agree that the pendulum is swinging back toward clean design and I hope the mk VII is a herald of that change, meaning that it's coming soon.
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      08-31-2013 03:44 PM #43
      Quote Originally Posted by Air and water do mix View Post
      Excellent.

      I have thought for a few years that we're going to be at a time like the early '60s. We went from bulbous, chrome-laden '50s designs to clean, simple lines like the Chevy II, Lincoln Continental and BMW Neue Klasse in just a few years. This isn't to say that one is better than the other (thought I do like clean design), but the pendulum does indeed swing like that.
      The cars that started this period were actually the Chrysler "Forward Look" designs of the 1955-1961 timeframe:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward_Look

      1957 Tagline: "Suddenly it is 1960".

      I forget all the reasons why Chrysler changed the rules, it may have had something to do with the size of the platforms they had ready to sell, but it was out of necessity and Virgil Exner, the one guy who put tailfins on the map, also took them off.

      I am secretly rooting for Chris Bangle.
      Last edited by fbobberts; 08-31-2013 at 03:51 PM.
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      08-31-2013 03:53 PM #44
      Pontiac was years ahead of the game when it came to busy and messy designs.
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      08-31-2013 06:08 PM #45
      Quote Originally Posted by Spdmini View Post
      Pontiac was years ahead of the game when it came to busy and messy designs.

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      08-31-2013 07:18 PM #46
      People don't understand how much bean counters affect design.

      Most modern cars are very slab sided. That's because it's easier/cheaper to manufacture very flat surfaced that lack depth. So what's the solution to masking this blatant attempt to save a couple of dollars? Add flame surfacing, or fussy, almost arbitrary details on the sides of the car to keep people from noticing that there is little to no depth.

      Here is an example (notice how significant a contour the E type has on the sides):



      Modern equivalent is slab sized, but adds a couple of lines to fool the eye:


    22. Member rlfletch's Avatar
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      08-31-2013 07:52 PM #47
      Quote Originally Posted by timmy222 View Post
      Anyone who has been to design school knows what 'Planned obsolescence' is
      Everyone thinks a Industrial designers job is just design the best and most attractive design possible

      This is simply not true

      Today in automotive design its all about installing as many of today's design fads into your design
      Not about designing the most attractive design possible, but just making sure its up to date with all of today's design trends, no matter how garish it might be. As long as it looks NEW. Most important is it looks out of date at the end of its Product life so you want to buy the new one

      The Hyundai Sonata is a good example of this. Purist will hate it but it is actually very successful in what it is trying to acheive

      I myself loved Automotive design, in the 80's I loved every thing ItalDesign was doing with their Shows Cars. I was certain all cars would look like these in the future..how wrong was I
      You are completely full of s** to blame "Planned obsolescence" on designers. It certainly was never brought up at my deign school and has never been a discussion amongst my fellow designers. Planned obsolescence is a product of corporate planners and bean counters. I can speak to that fact as I have personally seen it in action in the boat industry. Designers are just trying to make the best thing THEY think is appropriate. We often disagree and that is why you get so many different themes in the world of design. No designer worth his/her salt is trying to make something that will be "In style" for only a couple of years. Sometimes one has to sell out a bit to appease the less than optimum clients but I have no true interest in designing the next Honda Whatever even though it will sell in the millions, I am aiming for the next Audi TT in everything I design.
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    23. Member Rocco!'s Avatar
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      09-01-2013 11:03 AM #48
      Quote Originally Posted by Charlie84 View Post
      I'm bumping this thread in hopes of reviving it, because it is my favorite thread ever.
      Quote Originally Posted by atomicalex View Post
      I am glad you bumped it. I like this thread.
      Quote Originally Posted by Air and water do mix View Post
      I'm glad it was bumped, too. Not only do I like the subject, but I still agree that the pendulum is swinging back toward clean design and I hope the mk VII is a herald of that change, meaning that it's coming soon.
      I'm glad y'all bumped my thread

      I'm looking forward to what the Mk VII brings as well.

      Quote Originally Posted by Charlie84 View Post
      I think it's important to make the distinction between "clean" design and what I call "blank" design. The mere lack of adornment does not automatically make for a good design --I think a lot of "sophisticated" people often make this mistake! As if they say to themselves, "Oh, it looks like minimalism to me, so it must be terribly sophisticated!" Going overly clean just results in a lack of visual interest. To illustrate my point, in VW fanboi terms:

      Clean:


      Blank:
      This should be quoted again
      Last edited by Rocco!; 09-01-2013 at 11:07 AM.

    24. Moderator silverspeedbuggy's Avatar
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      09-01-2013 11:27 AM #49
      Quote Originally Posted by timmy222 View Post
      Anyone who has been to design school knows what 'Planned obsolescence' is
      Everyone thinks a Industrial designers job is just design the best and most attractive design possible

      This is simply not true

      Today in automotive design its all about installing as many of today's design fads into your design
      Not about designing the most attractive design possible, but just making sure its up to date with all of today's design trends, no matter how garish it might be. As long as it looks NEW. Most important is it looks out of date at the end of its Product life so you want to buy the new one

      The Hyundai Sonata is a good example of this. Purist will hate it but it is actually very successful in what it is trying to acheive

      I myself loved Automotive design, in the 80's I loved every thing ItalDesign was doing with their Shows Cars. I was certain all cars would look like these in the future..how wrong was I
      Quote Originally Posted by rlfletch View Post
      You are completely full of s** to blame "Planned obsolescence" on designers. It certainly was never brought up at my deign school and has never been a discussion amongst my fellow designers. Planned obsolescence is a product of corporate planners and bean counters. I can speak to that fact as I have personally seen it in action in the boat industry. Designers are just trying to make the best thing THEY think is appropriate. We often disagree and that is why you get so many different themes in the world of design. No designer worth his/her salt is trying to make something that will be "In style" for only a couple of years. Sometimes one has to sell out a bit to appease the less than optimum clients but I have no true interest in designing the next Honda Whatever even though it will sell in the millions, I am aiming for the next Audi TT in everything I design.
      I agree with rlfletch here; none of my design professors ever mentioned PO. I could be way off on this, but I always thought PO was a combination of engineering and styling. Engineers design parts to last a minimum amount of time, say, 10 years. The combination of materials used, the durability of those materials, and the run cycles of the product says it should last a minimum of 10 years. So, for example, GE marketers find that the average consumer keeps their fridge 10 years, so the life expectancy of the product is 10 years, and that's what the engineers aim for. And then there's styling; designers create an attractive and useful product using current design preferences. Using the same fridge analogy, designers create a fridge that appeals to today's buyers. But 10 years down the road the average buyer might want new or more-modern styling, so they upgrade to the 'new' model. Think of the all-white fridges of the 80s; how could those designers know that people would shun white appliances in the 90s for stainless? That wasn't PO by the hands of the designers, it was that the public moved away from white to stainless.

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      09-01-2013 11:43 AM #50
      Agree'd. As a air-cooled & water-cooled Beetle fan I'm happy with the new 2012-2014 design. Really think VW did a absolute incredible job designing it and getting back to a simple usable practical everyday Beetle that we knew and love back in the rear engine days.

      Defender.

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