We have a little design fetish here at Unplggd.com. We love all things bright and beautiful, as long as they do something that enriches our lives. We've noticed a trend recently in design that we think is one of the most exciting things to happen since Carrot Top got his own show in Vegas. Though admittedly not directly home design related, we recently got an unusual, but welcome invitation to get a behind the scenes look, ride and lesson about how even the realm of automotive design pulls from architecture and furniture design for inspiration. How could we say "no" to that?
When we were growing up it always seemed as though products were designed for someone else: pants were too short by an inch or too long by two, sunglasses never seemed to fit, car seats were uncomfortable and unsupportive, pets consisted of either cats or dogs.
As time has passed and demands of customers have evolved, manufacturing processes and design have both improved. If you are into something obscure like atlatls, rest assured that you can find several retailers with many different options for you to obsess over.
For the work of the designer, this evolution has been a godsend. If you can think it, it can be built. Ever since the advent of CAD software a few years back, the process of bringing a product to market has been changing and with the ability to integrate three dimensional software (like CAD) with softer, more creative gestural and NURBS type processing, we can now work like sculptors in the computer environment.
This last point is something to consider carefully because we can now not only create a beautiful, organic form in the computer and have it manufactured halfway around the world, but we can have millions of them made- each the same as the one before it- or slightly different, if customization is desired. Products can look like one thing but actually be another... or look fragile, but be very strong (see Chaise Lounge above by Mathias Bengtsson).
Just look at design appearing in most every category and you will see that we are all making a giant shift to a perfect happy utopia where nothing bad ever happens ever. An easy to grasp example is Frank Gehry's Dizzy Concert Hall. The lines on that things are basically untraceable. Gorgeous and indulgent, it is a landmark achievement. Another great architectural beauty is Dupli Casa by J. Maher H- [via archdaily]. How can you not lust after this house?
It could be said that the automotive industry has been at the cutting edge of this metamorphosis. We visited with Nissan when they launched their new "Apartment on Wheels" a few months back and had a blast. The Cube is a designer's dream in terms of looks and space but there is more revolution happening at the new Datsun. We've just returned from a little "Ride and Drive" a week or two ago with the soon-to-be-released Nissan 370Z Roadster and discovered that design has moved to yet another level.
There is something about the way the new Z is put together. You might think it's big and may love or hate the head and tail lights for their amazingly gestural linework, but the car feels as though it was designed by professional finger painters! It is incredible how it all morphs into being. The very fact that this product can exist at all says so much about where we are technologically. This car would have been impossible to make just a few years ago. The panels are so expertly arranged and executed that it looks like it's animated- like Manga animated...and it's metal, not plastic.
Take a look at it on the road:
Oh, it's fun. Fast and fierce. We were in a Roadster in the video and it is no Sunday driver (the woman behind the wheel is 82, BTW... Automotive Hall of Famer, Denise McCluggage). That car can handle pretty much anything that the Nismo chase car can dish out. The Nismo was mean, though- very stiff and deadly in its demeanor. Handling seemed to be a non-issue, as if it weren't a category at all- a little jarring perhaps, but certainly direct. You might assume that cars were not supposed to ever lose traction after having been behind the wheel of either of these.
It suddenly has come full circle: we live in a cartoon, people. Look around your apartment and imagine what it would be like if you could mold everything in your space to be how you want it. Your couch, your lamp, your desk...what if all of it was so free in its form that it appeared to be computer generated? Frankly, the only thing keeping us from going over the edge is our lack of levitation technology...which will likely be along shortly.
Sure, we'll look back in a few years and chuckle at how far we've come, but this type of product has brought together the work of many different categories in a marvelously integrated fashion. Nissan appears to be thinking as a single mind- perhaps this is how the future will be defined.