"Design is intelligence made visible."-Le Corbusier
Since at least the agricultural revolution and the division of labor that came with it, humans have designed, ever since we started having free time, time to think about things more profound than when the next meal may come our way, ever since we were able to strive for more than mere practicality and function we have designed. We have attempted to implant a beauty in our daily lives, we have designed to solve problems we didn’t know existed, and to create new ones, we have designed for more than function, we designed for pleasure, beauty, enjoyment, design was our chance, to take over from that great designer, mother nature and do our part in beautifying and improving the world we lived in. It was our chance to show off, our intelligence, our creativity, our innovative sense, and our perception of beauty. It was us following Voltaire’s missive, that, “It is the purpose of art to improve on Nature”, that was what the great designers all tried to do. Design came into full bloom with the Industrial Revolution and the mass consumption of goods, it became a tool to differentiate, a selling point. Design is one part practical and functional, one part innovation, one part aesthetics, and one part mystical. Great design will unite the first three in a holy-design-trinity invoking the fourth intangible element in the observer, stirring up an indescribable feeling in the consumer invoking the holy capitalistic ritual of want and consumption.Design has evolved, it has become an artistic science and a scientific art, a methodical manufacturing creativity, constrained by production factors, serving marketing, slave to the consumer base, as well as a free-spirited test bed of conceptual innovation bounded only by the limits of the human imagination, unconstrained, creating product, creating needs, wants, beauty. Design in spirit is difficult to define, or convey the grand sense of importance, creativity, and soul it contains, a meshing of physical and emotional constraints, needs, wants and desires. Design as a process can be roughly described as,
“an ability to conceptualise an idea, express it in materials and prove it by demonstration” (Bayley). Design is a practical art and a foolish science, a melting pot of intellectual purpose and creative expression. Simply put, “Design is an art that works” (Bayley).
“It is the purpose of Design to improve on industry.” (Bayley, Conran). Automotive design improves the breed, it challenges the market, it culls the inferior, it innovates the field driving it forward to constant aesthetic, mechanical, and practical improvement in hot pursuit of the elusive holy-trinity of design, a perfect balance of aesthetic, practicality and innovation. Sir Terence Orby Conran does an excellent job in attempting to explain the abstract concept of what good design is.
“The answer is that it is immediately visible: something that has not been intelligently designed will not work properly. It will be uncomfortable to use. It will be badly made, look depressing and be poor value for money. And what’s more, if it doesn’t give you pleasure, it is bad design” (Conran).
Sir Conran agree’s with Le Corbusier’s sentiment, stating, “Good design really is intelligence made visible”. Design is a reflection of its creator,
“Everything that is made betrays the beliefs and convictions of the person who made it. Everything has been designed. Conscious or unconscious decisions have always been made which affect the way a product is manufactured, how it will be used and what it looks like…good design or thoughtful design…comprises 98 per cent commonsense and 2 per cent of a mysterious component which we might as well call art or aesthetics. A good design has to work well, be made at a price the consumer finds acceptable and it must give the consumer practical and aesthetic pleasure. It must also be of a quality that justifies the price paid. If the design has some innovatory qualities then, at least in my opinion, it becomes an even better design. In addition, well designed products tend to have a long lifespan and usually acquire an attractive patina of usage….The designer’s job is not to repeat history” (Conran).
So what makes the best automotive design? Is it utility, is it novelty, is it pure aesthetic pleasure, is it the best compromise? Is it how revolutionary the design is? Is it the effectiveness? Sound off in the comments, and give me some suggestions, I aim to create a list of 25 or so and from there narrow it down to the top 10.