Expression distinguishes designed objects from engineered ones.
Expression relates to meaning: it draws attention to an aspect which is more than geometry or function. In this little photo essay I’d like to show how this idea emerges from looking at chamfers on tail-lamps
You’ll notice the Croma’s lamps are flush with the surface they are located on. This expresses very little and misleadingly suggests the lamps might be just on the surface or not separate elements with a function different to the adjoining surface.
Notice here, please, the light-reflecting edge or chamfer running around the lamp. It gives the metal an impression of depth and articulates the lamp’s separateness.
The 147 is the best example I can find of a chamfer running around a lamp. In addition to expressing the lamp’s separateness we can read it as adding cost, the folding and alignment taking more effort than the Croma’s blank smoothness
We return to a contrast with the Galaxy and the 147: the bland S-Max lamp. One argument for this is to suggest efficiency and aerodynamism. I prefer to argue it suggests nothing except cheapness. It’s engineered but insufficiently designed. Meaning is missing.
The Matiz lamp redeems its absent chamfer by standing proud of the surrounding metal.
The 1995 Brava looks signally costly: the lamps have to be fitted from the inside. Like the Matiz, they are not flush. That’s expressive design adding several levels of meaning where engineering would prefer this:
One of the aims with the Stilo involved making manufacture easier. But it didn’t make it nicer to behold.