3 ways trends are valuable to car design

The best car designers don’t copy trends but take learning from them - and they do this in three ways.

There are two ways that people — from a baby to a grandparent — learn: by working things out for themselves; and by stepping-off the practice of others.  Some things are best learnt one way, some the other. 

Learning core facts or things that have a limited range of solutions, tend to be best learnt from others; how to spell 'cat' for example, or how to tie up your shoe laces. 

Other things — mostly more subtle things with multiple possibilities — are best learnt by taking a bit of learning from related areas, giving the task a go, and then learning from our mistakes to then work out our own way of doing something. Examples of this include learning how to draw, how to strike up a conversation with a stranger, and how to design a car...

Toyota e Palette

For most experienced car designers, learning from others becomes less focused on the core craft of car design and more about learning indirectly from other areas of design and the wider creative world: to absorb — subconsciously often — external stimuli that shapes their perspective on how to design a car.  Many car designers who do this then shun the idea of consciously seeking to know trends in car design as it might pollute their wider creative view with todays’ realisable solution, or even lead them to literally emulate others — the antithesis of creating something truly new.

Examples of some trends from "2017 CDR Tokyo Auto Show Design Trend Report taster"

Yet there are three core reasons why knowing the trends in car design is valuable even for the most accomplished car designer, and might best sit alongside other more etherial sources of inspiration: 

1. Design merit is a relative thing, so for a designer not to know the leading practice in their field means they cannot see their work critically — and not having an informed, critical view of the merit of your design is arguably a failing. 

2. Knowing design trends is also valuable because today's trends will form the wider context of tomorrow — cars in the future will literally be more like the most trend setting designs of today, so being aware of today's trends in car design helps designers to best see with the eyes of the future car customer whom they are designing for. 

3. It is also valuable to know car design trends because this knowledge enables designers to consciously develop new trends, or to choose to ignore them, and not to unwittingly buck or conform to a trend that they were unaware of.

So whilst the best car designers do not copy trends, they are both very aware of them, they learn from them — and they design better car designs because of this. 

by Sam Livingstone

Most of what we do at Car Design Research is working closely with clients to create design, brand and product strategies - or on other related future facing creative projects. But we have also attended the press days of every major international auto show - at our own cost - since we were founded in 2001, where for the last five years we have researched and produced Design Trend Reports that cover the Macro thematic trends of the show, and the design trends in: exterior; interior; colour, material, finish; and HMI.

Today these reports are presented to clients - sometimes in-person as we have done in Europe and Japan, sometimes by Webex to satellite studios literally all over the world, sometimes just passed over as a digital file to be accessed by individual designers as an when they wish to. And sometimes they are presented in person as an engaging and interesting talk for client teams more peripheral to car design, but who have an interest in cars or design.

We’ve just been to CES (the Consumer Electronic Show) and the Detroit Auto Show to reseach our first Design Trend Reports from 2018, and have also recently completed our three annual synopsis reports: “2017 Design Trend Report Annual Synopsis” and also our “2017 Dedicated HMI Design Trend Report Annual Synopsis” and “2017 Dedicated Colour, Material, Finish, Design Trend Report Annual Synopsis”.

If you'd like to know more about these Design Trend Reports, please mail us at info@cardesignresearch.com



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