Is Art and Science on the Way Out?

News From a Few Days Ago…

1999 Cadillac Evoq: source
1999 Cadillac Evoq: source

By the time this is published you may very well know what the concept design in question looks like. I think it’s an interior concept but may involve a new exterior form language. I didn’t want to nudge any of our other articles to one side for a teaser so the first available place to discuss it is here, after your breakfast.

In 2014 I took a look back at Simon Cox’s work, particularly the Vehicross and his 2001 Imaj concept car. The latter is the stem design for Cadillac today, a look called Art & Science by those interested in such things. It developed a theme from the 1999 Evoq, credited to Kim Wasenko at Cadillac’s own advanced styling studio.

It is a style that has had a very long if not really successful run, to judge by Cadillac’s long-term stalling in the car market. Time for change?

2001 Cadillac Imaj
2001 Cadillac Imaj:

On the plus side, Cadillac have been very consistent with the A&S theme, allowing it to mature and change. Other things being equal this is a good strategy when trying to complete the long process of altering people’s perceptions. Consider how Audi has retained a consistent look for decades, for example, or how Renault has not.

Alas, the determined ploughing of this artistic, scientific furrow has not had the desired effect. According to TTAC: “…. Cadillac is now suffering from declining sales in its home market. Globally, Cadillac sales declined 1.5 percent to fewer than 130,000 units through the first-half of 2016 as the company’s transition from its SRX best seller into the new XT5 impaired growth.

(Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus all sold more than 150,000 new vehicles during the same period in the United States alone.)”

Are all their woes only due to styling? Much of it is as good as American design gets.

2007 Cadillac STS-V: source
2007 Cadillac STS-V: source

The teaser which you can see for yourself at the link shows a dashboard only, something radically simple but also reminiscent of… well, you are welcome to make suggestions. It seems as if the designers might be trying to go down a similar (and not wrong) path of modern American luxury, much as Lincoln refused to do despite the massive efforts of Gerry  McGovern and his talented team of pen-wielders.

The IP shapes in the teaser video are made possible by new lighting technology and offer better packaging and sharper, brighter graphics.

2012 Cadillac CTS: source
2012 Cadillac CTS: YouTube

And the exterior? Design is not a field of infinite variety. After doing something razor edged and geometrical, there isn’t much you can do except do something very soft or something somewhere in between. Buick already have first dibs on a rich, voluptuous look. So, we shall find out where GM’s spin-the-bottle game has ended up pointing.

Cadillac now has three to five years of living with the remnants of the A&S theme before whatever they show in Monterey gets to the dealers. Maybe they could start with changing all their car interiors?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

2 thoughts on “Is Art and Science on the Way Out?”

  1. I still wish Mercedes had the kind of nous at their styling studio to come up with something as impressively elegant as the Cadillac Elmiraj. One thing is for certain: Cadillac’s lack of success isn’t due to a lack of talent among the design staff.

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