Sunday, February 20, 2011

Avant-garde car concepts for Opel Vauxhall

Opel has recently launched a competition in order to explore a design strategy based on the idea of the car becoming a lounge. Keeping in mind the slogan ´Sculptural artistry meets German precision´, design students from all over the world set off to the forefront of automotive design to create their dream car. The results are fascinatingly diverse, in some cases radically advanced in terms of technology, in other cases in terms of form language.

Here are some of the top entries.

Victor Uribe envisioned a car that goes wild on technology integration, while still creating an integral design that fits the idea of a car as a lounge space perfectly. The car consists of a flowing form that floats above its spherical wheels using magnetic levitation technology. Next to that it has all kinds of intelligent features such as sensors, projectors, even a Kinect driving interaction possibility, that sometimes feel a little superfluous, and in some cases plain dangerous. Perhaps the strongest feature of this design is the interior that allows one person to be a seated driver, while two passengers can lay down flat on intelligent, shape-changing lounge surfaces.

Javier Albizu entered the contest with a concept that is based on a deformable exterior. It can for example open and close the air intake on the front in order to either cool its electric motors, or improve its aerodynamic properties. The smooth hull of the car is made of a high-tech skin-like material that incorporates solar energy collectors, graphene to conduct electricity, and magnets to change its shape. The deformation that occurs is a stretching and contracting of the hull over its entire length, quite analogous to the car being one large muscle. This property changes the length of the car, and can be convenient in switching from a city-cruise to the hasty highway.

A girl named Lina takes on the challenge in a very different, very feminine way. She brings the fresh breeze that I feel is so needed in the still largely technology-oriented, male-dominated industrial design industry. Through intuitive and free-flowing sketches Lina has reached a very promising start for a car of the future. Her aesthetics clearly have evolved through her process, which she has suffused with peace, calmth, and feeling. And the final result is very powerful in subconsciously putting us in a similar state of mind.

Pierin Giacomo might have created the most holistic design of the competition in terms of experience and look and feel of both exterior and interior. Stepping into his bio-inspired car must feel like becoming absorbed by a flower. I can see this having a very soothing effect on people.

A last concept to mention is 'Opel Dynamis' by Acatrinei Lucian Nicolae. This very radically futuristic vehicle has some interesting innovations, such as electroactive polymers to adjust seats, 'Buckypaper' as structural reinforcement in the hull, and a flexible LCD display that serves as a dashboard.

Meditation Flash Mob

Austin, Texas is known as an artistic, free-spirited place, and to no surprise it was there that a group of people gathered to do a public meditation session right inside the famous capitol building. The security guards are confused with the loud Om-chanting, and are probably deciding whether to internally start judging or enjoying it. Because beautiful it is. And a message is given; we can develop ourselves from the inside out, so we can be liberated from the paternalistic bodies that now often govern our behavior and instill in us a rather artificial concept of right and wrong.

We cannot deny anymore that the internet is having a profound effect on people´s consciousness, and that together indeed we are rapidly undergoing a shift.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Speaking in public through a huge animated avatar

The people at 1024 Architecture have taken on a very artistic and 'spiritual'-ish project with their installation 'Perspective Lyrique'. It feels 'spiritual' to me probably because we intuitively feel drawn to anything that is larger than us and slightly different in a superior way. It feels like it's a guide, a father, even a god. And so it grips us and makes us pay the one-pointed kind of attention. Quite an existential twist to this installation is that spectators can take on a protagonist role by talking into a microphone. The person's voice is then transformed and projected back through the animated face of the projection. So it is as if you can become this grander figure for a moment, on a public stage.

Fractalic landscapes

Under the name of subblue, Tom Beddard creates the most wondrous fractalic virtual structures, which he beautifully renders up to the point that we can say that the former laser physicist is now really maturing as an artist. People who now still not believe that humans can create things that are as beautiful as natural creations, open up to your unconscious, and pay attention to this stuff.

Iris van Herpen's new fashion: more beautiful, better, and uncut

Maybe somewhat in line with the notion of the design paradigm of 'biological modernism', take a look at Iris van Herpen's new creations. We know her from the intricate 3D printed garments she showed up with last year, but the new ones really 'nail' the design language, and give almost a spiritual feel to these three-dimensional structures.

Mercedes goes bionic

Great stuff from the Mercedes Benz design department. Apparently they have been working on the development of an entirely new form language, and it is promising. The free and flowing forms they came up with are not just sculptures arisen from the unbound human imagination, but based on natural structures that have optimized themselves over many generations. As a result, the design language has become extremely beautiful, and it simply seems to 'fit' to Mercedes-Benz. Where modernism has mainly resulted in mass-produced 'soulless' objects, including biological processes into it may bring this back and make the ultimate union of form and function. When humanity for a moment thought that modernism took away all individuality, biology is here to show us how we can be united and individuated at the same time.

It seems that Mercedes is looking for a name for this language -that really is much more than a language- as they call it 'Sculpture Aesthetics No. 2'. I would suggest 'biological modernism' as the umbrella term for this class of design -which, again, is much more than just a class or style of design but more like a new paradigm. Take a look at their promo video, and some pictures of the prototype, sculptures, and sketches they made.