Monday, July 22, 2013

Advances in organic car design

Ever since life has given us the opportunity to step off our horses and create our own objects of transportation, these objects have become extensions of a man's ego as far as aerodynamics and manufacturability restrictions would allow. Early cars were predominantly expressions of upper-class style, and later they also expressed other values such as youthfulness and free-spiritedness. There comes a time in life however, when the individual identity recedes from our lives and instead of trying to survive in an environment essentially seen as hostile to our existence, we become more in tune with nature, and start living more as an integral part of it.

It is here where softer values values such as harmony, sensitivity, balance and kindness enter. In Western cultures such as the European and North-American, these values have not manifested on a large scale, but in East Asia they have always been part of the collective values. In the Chinese market you will have trouble selling cars with sharp lines; they want soft, nicely rounded shapes. The founding father of organic car design, Luigi Colani, is immensely popular there. But there are emerging designers who know how to bridge the sleek and modern with the blobby and organic, and probably the most famous one is Ross Lovegrove.

Together with Renault he created the Twin-Z concept, where he even went beyond his usual soft form language and added an almost psychedelic intensity to it with vibrant colors and complex patterns. It reminds us of the paintings of Monet or Cezanne, in a time where art went from dogmatic principles towards an expression of complete subjectivity. The Twin-Z invites us to go beyond our mind-driven existence and be completely present in the experience, enjoying the vividness of the environment and the driving experience itself. Because when our mind becomes silent, reality itself starts to enter into our conscious experience and becomes more and more vibrant. Lovegrove helps us here to open our dimmer switch and turn on the light.

Another interesting example of the development of organic car design is the thesis project of Oliver Elst in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz. The German student created a lightweight car concept that incorporates three 'skins'. The central layer would serve to regulate systems such as cooling and lighting, and is designed as a pattern of balls around the car. Why they are ball-shaped is not entirely clear, and it would probably not do the aerodynamics any good, but it sure is an interesting stylistic development. 

Also make sure to check out Yang-Min Seok's concept for the Renault Zero:

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