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December 2014


Less is More

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“Less is more” so said Ludwig Mies van der Rohe*, an aphorism imbedded in the Design culture of the industrial world, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, the culture of car design. It tends toward the intellectual high ground; an approach classically championed by the designer and rebuffed by the marketer.  It feels like it has a European, even a German, centricity – the distant echo of Bauhaus still being heard.  

We see it in the exterior design of some cars where it is much discussed, but perhaps more affectingly it is an approach that underpins some of the best interior designs.  We wondered: what are the best (and perhaps also some of the forgotten) exemplars of interior design modernism?  And then we realised that this wasn’t a half hour Insight piece, but a book!  So here are some of the edited highlights – some of the best known and some of the lesser-known examples of (mostly) 1970s interior design modernism that we thought worth reminding ourselves of. 

 

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The virtual urban windscreen

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A couple of months ago we wrote about Technicon’s Ixion concept – which did away with windows on a plane, replacing them with projected images from outside.

This week, we saw the first step towards a similar technology being introduced in cars. Jaguar’s 360-degree ‘virtual urban windscreen’ utilises screens ‘embedded inside the car and take a live video feed from the cameras covering angles outside the car usually obscured in the blind spots created by the A, B and C-pillars’.

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The sound of silence

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When Formula 1 opened its first test session last January in Jerez, Spain, it heralded a new era of smaller V6 turbo hybrid powerplants that promised to bring the sport into the modern age. However, it wasn't the mind boggling technology that turned heads that day, it was the noise the cars made, or, to be more precise, the lack thereof. The efficiency of the engines had resulted in a quieter exhaust sound than anyone (bar F1 engineers) had envisioned, and, for many, it threatened the sport. 2014 was also the year of the hybrid supercar, and with them we are also having conversations about whether they could, or should, sound different to the dream cars of our youth.

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Is the future of the car dealer the product genius?

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While the car is fast forwarding into a future of electric drivetrains, connected interiors and the customer shopping in a world of online configurators, the car dealer still exists in a world of token balloons, special finance rate weekends and is situated on a business park on the wrong side of town. The traditional business of selling cars – and everything that goes with it – is becoming trickier in a world of online retail, mass-urbanisation and customers looking for an Apple Store or Amazon style shopping experience. 

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Wins and fixes: Citroen Cactus

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The Cactus is being heralded as a return to the “different is better” approach of Citroens of old. Having spent a week with it, we think that others could learn a lot from this design – and there are maybe a few things that Citroen might look to amend in version 2.0.

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