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    Overdesign

    I've noticed recently how much we criticise car design aesthetics that have drifted away from the conservative. But I wondered, what does that mean exactly when the current economic climate worldwide forgets about values like heritage and history and focuses on earnings and revenue. This subject was discussed most recently when the McL P1 was shown and many of us right away decided that the car looked ugly. McL being a young player in the road car market has the liberty to try and create its own brand identity without stomping on a design language that has existed for years. Porsche on the other hand plays on the simplicity of its design aesthetic to convey a sense of belonging within an existing lifestyle presented by the brand. But as many of us have already criticised, Porsche seems to be expanding at a rate where that growth could become more of a liability to the brands stigma rather than a financial asset, specially now that they have the backbone of the VW giant behind them. But it seems they are sticking to their guns and keeping things clean, for now. But has the consumer for this product changed so much that they have shifted the focus on the whole industry? In the past luxury car brands hoped to keep a sense of sophistication and style in what they did because that was the kind of costumer that not only could afford to indulge in cars of that category, but also because that was the kind of people that manufacturers wanted to be associated with. Today we can safely and sadly say that a sports car has become a symbol for arrogance, superiority, and in many cases outright disregard for others.  But how does this relate to design overall ? Should a car be made in such a way that it becomes an enjoyable piece of design for the user, or as a statement to others of the ideas the user stands for? And if so, how does car design at large reflect and impact society?

    To answer this lets look back at some examples of brands that have recently been said to over design:

    Lamborghini:

    Lamborghini-400_GT_1966_1280x960_wallpaper_02.jpg

    Lamborghini-Sesto_Elemento_Concept_2010_1280x960_wallpaper_01.jpg

    Aston Martin:

    Aston_Martin-DB4_1958_1280x960_wallpaper_03.jpgAston_Martin-AM_310_Vanquish_2013_1280x960_wallpaper_24.jpg

    McLaren:

    McLF1_Top125_014.jpgMcLaren-P1_Concept_2012_1024x768_wallpaper_01.jpg

    So why is this happening and what does it mean to the brand and its costumers?  Fundamentally cars are a business like any other, and it needs to move with the economical tides in order to survive. But in a world where automobiles are no longer a commodity but rather a necessity, and an indispensable means to any and every other industry, why wont luxury/premium car makers impose their own rules on design and what they think the brand should stand for? rather than wielding to what others, and the market trend of the moment suggest?  Theres no doubt that the Asian market is at the moment the driving force behind this change within the looks of cars. the incorporation of asian inspired lines and elements hopes to bring costumers from those societies, which at the moment have more stable economies than Europe and America can provide. So where do these design elements come from?

    Asia has a very rich and diverse artistic culture, but something that has always stood out is it's daring nature, and the obvious inclusion of ornaments and decorative lines and figures to enhance the appearance of things.

    shu-pei2.jpg

    china_asian_architecture_desktop_2816x2112_wallpaper-447353.jpgchinese_painting_asian_art_027.20591047_large.jpg

    Now we know where the inspiration comes from, now lets take a look at why. As said before Asia is spending its money, and cars is a good place to do it. The automotive industry in thriving in these countries and is expected to stay on the rise for the near future. The US was the most important premium car sales market for some time but recently it's hit a bad streak because of so much economical unrest, and Asia in on the rise with a lot of strength:

    Premium Car Sales China.pngPremium Car Sales US.png

    Also amongst all mayor car sales China, Japan and India (another culture with a strong artistic personality and a ornamented and enriched design language)  present themselves as the ones with highest prospect of rising, while other countries don't show such growth:

    Screen Shot 2012-09-19 at 12.25.49 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2012-09-19 at 12.26.07 PM.png

    It's all aimed at the societies with the most spending power. As a profitable industry automotive design follows whoever had the deepest pockets, many times compromising its value for higher sales numbers. Its textbook consumerism. the problem is that this is a short term solution, design as a whole should help shape peoples perspective upon a product in a way that it betters the psychological state of the user through time, and this in turn can set the ground for better design and better usage in the future. A trendy "more is more" approach to car design exemplifies one of the main problems of todays society, the fact that we want more and we want it now. Instead of focusing on a design that can help add something new and better to the lifestyle of the user, and help them achieve what they set out to do with the product, aesthetics point to a place where cars can be viewed more as status symbols without reason or purpose behind their forms. And the more car makers work this way the more it'll change the worlds perspective on sports/luxury cars. 

    As someone mentioned in one the P1 thread we might dislike a design at first glance but "get used to it" with time and learn to like it. True but not necessarily good. If we get used to bad design, a design that focuses on the flash, and the drama of car making, we will eventually forget that some of history most beautiful cars were conceived and designed from a technical point of view and bearing in mind design principles that added meaningful and significant aspects to the object itself. 

    Wether or not a particular car is "ugly" or "pretty" is irrelevant when we consider the values behind a society that is pushing those labels upon the industry. If car makers continue to make cars with designs that are merely there to satisfy a momentary surge in the market then those brands will eventually lose their own value and identity. That in turn will ruin the automotive culture that so many of us appreciate so much.  

    These are just my own personal thoughts and opinions on this subject and I don't expect everyone to agree with it. But I kept thinking about it since in my line of work a good design is key. So I decided to put my ideas together in one place and wrote all this, writing down my ideas with pictures and data is usually my process to form an idea and come to a conclusion about any design subject I analyse. It might seem as rambling at times but maybe some of you have ideas on the subject and would like to add to why things have taken such a turn in recent years. 

     


    Re: Overdesign

    I find the new cars much better. Modern, striking, innovative. Space age, not middle ages! 


    --
    FERRARI RULES!!!

    Re: Overdesign

    REALZEUS:

    I find the new cars much better. Modern, striking, innovative. Space age, not middle ages! 

    I never meant that design shouldn't be innovative and new. I just wonder if it's going in the right direction. 


    Re: Overdesign

    Apples and oranges... To each is own. I like simpler lines.


    --

    There is no try. Just do.


    Re: Overdesign

    Different mentalities likes different designs. The problem not in curves itself. The problem is that the new mclaren doesn't look like English car. Some mercedes models doesn't look like German ones. Renault - really crap, thanks to PSA we have citroen - great styling. And etc... Many brands today lose their identity. When you look at 911 f.e. you don't need to look at badge to see that it is Porsche. When you look at 60's merc - you know it is merc. Even when you look on lambo - you know it is lambo. Yes, they are bit overdesigned but they have clearly italian design, evolution of countach wedge form. Aston Martin - great design!

    But when I look at new mac, latest ferraris(mostly f12 and FF), mercedes and even BMW (with new 1 series looks like polo from rear) I don't see the brands style... I see the mix of different elements that don't match each other.

    Best design - Form follows function. Easy to remember, always new.


    --

    sportcars-history.com


    Re: Overdesign

    What's happening to car design and consumers these days is a disgrace IMHO. Nobody cares about a sophisticated design anymore, or how good the basic things such as the steering, throttle response, braking, and shifting is anymore. All modern buyers care about is if the car looks really flashy (not good, just flashy i.e a bunch of unnecessary lines), and how many toys it comes with (i.e touch screens, ipod hookups, parks itself, voice commands).

    It really is a shame to say, but even though Porsche has held out longer, they are starting to fall into the trendy design category too. The 997 and 987 were perfect designs, and now the 991 and 981 are just too trendy in my opinion. When you look at each part of the 981, it is a fantastic car, but when it all comes together, it is just way overdone, the 987 was worlds better. Same with the 997. All of the elements are there, but they just tried way too hard.

    And it isn't just car design, it's dynamics too. Whatever though, new cars getting crappier and crappier just make the old ones that much more pleasing.


    Re: Overdesign

    The 991 has the 997 licked in every conceivable dynamic department. Same for new vs old Ferraris, Lamborghinis and just about every sportscar and supercar really. Looks is one thing but driving dynamics another thing altogether.


    --
    FERRARI RULES!!!

    Re: Overdesign

    A fine example of timeless design. Is she also unpainted available?

    smileyindecision

    1348084783883image.png


    --
    Kind regards, Conny 

    Porsche 997.2 Turbo S  *  BMW X5 M
     

    Re: Overdesign

    Fascinating subject!

    Style is so subjective, but I would tend to agree with you. I don't feel mega excited by today's cars. This is the digital age, everything's faster, easier, thrasher, etc...

    French cars? Gone, nothing, nada. We made the Alpine, Venturi, the 205 GTI, icons! Proper icons, now we truly make turds on wheels.

    Japanese: Crap. In the 90s, they made Masterpieces like the Supra, ZX300, NSX, I mean, they were very japanese but they had an identity. Having said that, they do make the impressive GTR and LFA.

    American: Nothing. Same recipe than 20 years ago. Big displacement, big grunt, no innovation.

    German: Audi is the worst. They all look the same! The 4, the 6, the 8, seriously, they ALL look the same! And now they even the 5 and the 7, WTF! 

    Merc does great engines with AMG, grunt, power, noise. But which one? Great quality, boring style.

    I like BMW, they try new things at least. Lambo V12 is cool but the image...

    Ferrari too, I think they are ugly and way too big, too Japanese, but at least they try. But they are too digital for me. They are so fast and easy to drive you feel like you're in a video game. Impressive yes, but where it the charm? 

    the 991 is the same, a bit too busy for me, I prefer the purity of the 997, it looks better propertioned too. Yes I understand the longer wheelbase, but those bulbous front lights, squeezed rear lights which make the ass fatter. I think the new Boxster is a much more cohesive and better design. I think the Cayman will look great. 

    But overall, you've guessed it, I'm becoming an old fart, I like clean, small, compact cars. Give me a 288 GTO over an Enzo any day. A 993 over a 991. I'm a nostalgic stuck in the 20th century. Smiley

    That's not to say I don't like modern cars, but to me, they must respect certain codes: Curves, compactness, forms follow function, smoothness.

    Most beautiful car ever designed: Ferrari 250 SWB. Yes I'm definitely an old fart.Smiley

     


    Re: Overdesign

    kudryavchik:

    Different mentalities likes different designs. The problem not in curves itself. The problem is that the new mclaren doesn't look like English car. Some mercedes models doesn't look like German ones. Renault - really crap, thanks to PSA we have citroen - great styling. And etc... Many brands today lose their identity. When you look at 911 f.e. you don't need to look at badge to see that it is Porsche. When you look at 60's merc - you know it is merc. Even when you look on lambo - you know it is lambo. Yes, they are bit overdesigned but they have clearly italian design, evolution of countach wedge form. Aston Martin - great design!

    But when I look at new mac, latest ferraris(mostly f12 and FF), mercedes and even BMW (with new 1 series looks like polo from rear) I don't see the brands style... I see the mix of different elements that don't match each other.

    Best design - Form follows function. Easy to remember, always new.

    Very well said.


    Re: Overdesign

    Not an old fartSmiley don't worry)))

    i am 23 f.e. and my favourite cars by all points are racecars from 30's, 70's and 80's))) From production - 911))) and going to be 918. listening to classic rock and loving classics... It doesn't mean that somebody is old. It means having a good taste)))Smiley


    --

    sportcars-history.com


    Re: Overdesign

    I think Futch has hit on the biggest design issue, ie the Matryoshka doll tendency of most of the brands.  What the marketing types who preach strong brand identity don't get is that these clone-cars weaken the brand, because we are bored with the repetition and disappointed with the lack of imagination.   At least Ferrari treats each model as distinctive, at the risk of offending some customers, but there seem to be fewer companies willing to be this loose with their design signatures. 


    --

    2011 Range Rover Sport S/C,  2009 Porsche 911S


    Re: Overdesign

    Futch:
    But they are too digital for me. They are so fast and easy to drive you feel like you're in a video game. Impressive yes, but where it the charm? 

    Well, you can always switch the electronics off and scare yourself silly if you feel like it. Smiley Needel even got oversteer at 140 mph when he track tested the 458 and floored the throttle. Personally, I have seen the CST light flashing at 120 mph in 5th on a wet motorway! Nothing digital and easy when the electronics are off! Smiley

    --
    FERRARI RULES!!!


    Re: Overdesign

    As ugly as cars are becoming these days, there are still some companies that know how to make really good looking cars still.

     


    Re: Overdesign

    REALZEUS:
    Futch:
    But they are too digital for me. They are so fast and easy to drive you feel like you're in a video game. Impressive yes, but where it the charm? 

    Well, you can always switch the electronics off and scare yourself silly if you feel like it. Smiley Needel even got oversteer at 140 mph when he track tested the 458 and floored the throttle. Personally, I have seen the CST light flashing at 120 mph in 5th on a wet motorway! Nothing digital and easy when the electronics are off! Smiley

    --
    FERRARI RULES!!!

    Thanks realzeus I do that in my 458 GT3 in the pooring rain at spa already. We have different pov on cars mate. For me, switching off the electronics, the car should be fun, communicative and predictable.

    the 458 is actually a very easy car to drive, just not communicative enough for my liking.

     If the car becomes silly scary with all aids switched off then it's dangerous and bad.

    If you scare yourself when you switch cst off, then maybe you're not a good enough driver. That's why they're called drivers aid after all.

    A good example, I am much slower in my F40 than a 458 and yet, I have more fun in it, for me, it has more charm, it is a purer experience. At the end of the day, with such road cars, the fun is more important than the speed. 

    My point is, cst on or off, the 458 is too digital for me. The scuderia was more fun, although I still prefer any rs. 

     

     

     


     
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