The Divorce of Form and Function

This brief post serves to notify readers that at Lexus the designers have finally separated form and function

2016 Lexus UX interior: source
2016 Lexus UX interior: source

This image shows the interior of the Lexus UX concept car. There are functions and there are forms and there is no apparent bridge between them. I don’t believe the person who created this image had any idea how these forms would be realised in production. I think it’s okay to do free-form sketching in the initial stages of a design programme. It’s essential, even. Usually then the “feeling” of the first loose sketches get transferred to the structure of the likely interior components with changes made to both as the iterations are iterated.

What has happened here is that a very experimental and largely meaningless impressionistic drawing has been given the full-on Photoshop treatment to look as if it’s a real interior. It’s thus confusing to see all the graduations of shade and texture as well as the absence of clues as to how it fits together or what any of it might be. Usually by the time someone gets to the labour intensive rendering stage the details have been or are being resolved. This drawing is heavy on graduations of shade (as you’d expect of a very realistic picture) but very deficient on detail. It makes little sense.

1989 Lexus LS400: wikipedia.org
1989 Lexus LS400. Somewhat less fanciful: wikipedia.org

There’s an exterior to go with this which you might want to look at on your own time. I am not going to link to it though.

Author: richard herriott

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

15 thoughts on “The Divorce of Form and Function”

  1. Richard, I suggest you reread David Pye and Jan Michl: contrary to popular belief form has only ever been very loosely tied to function.

    I like that 1989 LS400 interior, same colour as my ’88 Saab 900. It would have looked even better with a black steering wheel and without the (faux?) wood.

    1. Hi: I am firm devotee of both Pye and Michl. It´s nice to hear them referenced! However, I have to draw the line somewhere and in the case of the Lexus the design is well over the line. I am a firm believer in decoration and expression. However, I like it to have some meaning. The UX car´s interior looks devoid of meaning, even the meaning of how it´s put together. There are a lot of convenient shadows on that rendering. I don´t believe in the design that could be made from that image.

  2. Funny that Lexus should call the concept the UX, as the User eXperience appears to be the one thing that has gone on the back burner. I quite admire Lexus’ continuing adherence to the original concept of “the concept”, i.e. a complete flight of fantasy. And dare I say it, I very much like the interior?

    1. As ludicrous as it is, imagine if that interior made it into production? Nobody could ignore it. The interiors of other cars would seem impossibly tedious in comparison.

  3. As calvinistic my views to design normally are, I have to admit that this interior has something. Certainly too much of it, but still…
    On first glance, certain shapes even reminded me of the first DS dashboard. It probably looked equally futuristic for contemporary people. What it certainly had was more connection of the shapes to their function.

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