Pinned Together, Falling Apart

Do we get the stylistic leaders we deserve? 

“Nobody likes my shoes…” (c) Autocar

In recent weeks the design chiefs of the German car industry’s premier division reminded us exactly how they justify their retainers. This elite trio of Audi’s Marc Lichte, BMW’s Adrian van Hooydonk and Mercedes-Benz’s Gorden Wagener hold perhaps the most coveted and yet simultaneously least enviable jobs in the business, being at the very sharp-end of the changes rapidly encroaching upon all carmakers, but impacting the upper denizens in potentially even more profound a manner.

Earlier this week, we talked to a design commentator about the challenges facing carmakers; given the lack of vision which characterises the mainstream legacy motor car in the current environment. Viewed in this context, the manner in which these particular figures have deigned to comport themselves suggest a certain element of necessary irreverence.

First we meet BMW’s Senior Vice-President of Design, Adrian van Hooydonk, perched on a stairwell, looking downcast. Recently, he (along with sidekick, Domagoj Dukec), mounted a stout defence in the pages of Autocar of the carmaker’s rather vexed new styling direction – both men contorting in ever decreasing circles to justify their relative positions.

According to the dynamic FIZ duo, they have segmented the BMW range into subsets; one aimed at what they term, “elegant creators” – who they say tend to favour the traditional BMW offering [whatever that might be nowadays], while a second grouping dubbed “expressive performers”, are more interested in making a style statement. “They want a car that is almost irrational“, Dukec added in a manner which suggested he wasn’t entirely convinced by his utterances either.

But equally clear was that far from adopting the Millwall Football supporter[1] approach to the understandably harsh critical backlash, we are instead being asked to weep bitter tears for Adrian and Domagoj, because it appears that people are being simply horrid about them, not just on social media [where people seem to go for the express purpose of being horrid about each other], but also it would seem, at customer clinics; so much so that van Hooydonk no longer attends them, since, he pointed out, “it can be brutal“. But surely that simply goes with the territory?

BMW’s stylistic overseer went on to state, “We are expanding the vocabulary of the BMW brand with each new model and we’re pulling them further apart. And that’s deliberate. We are making them stronger in character without taking the brand apart,” Now of course, the problem with trying to appear smarter than you are is that the truth often has an inconvenient tendency to slip out between the cracks.

While on the subject expressive performers, I might suggest that next time Mr. van Hooydonk makes an attempt at justification, he does so through the medium of contemporary dance, which might at least have the virtue of being amusing.

Audi design chief, Marc Lichte and the new Taytron, trying desperately not to appear clichéd. Fails. (c) Forbes

Meanwhile at Ingolstadt, it’s been equally busy, with Design Director, Marc Lichte being wheeled out to pronounce upon Audi’s latest stylistic opus, the “Dynamic and High Caliber” [their spelling] Taytron. The new fully electric gran turismo was introduced virtually last month in what Audi portentously termed, “The Day of Progress.

In this hour-long virtual ‘Celebration of Progress’, [I’m not making any of this up] “the brand with the Four Rings introduced the [I’ll remember it now] Audi e-tron GT2 to the public for the first time.” Head of Design, Marc Lichte, while attempting to pretend that this was just a normal launch event, spoke to breathless viewers slumped at home in their underwear, pronouncing that, “progress means creating something new. Something that no one has ever done before in this form.

There is of course a sizeable issue with this statement, and you have undoubtedly seen it a nautical mile off. It’s a two word problem: Porsche and Taycan. Sorry Marc, can we just pause you there for a second? You did say “creating something new“, yes? You did, okay right, always good to clarify.

Mr. Lichte, heroically portrayed in a lavishly produced Audi-made promotional film[2] both as intrepid yachtsman and foul-weather mountain biker, clearly has certain difficulties with facts, having also told journalists recently that the what’s it called again, e-tron GT2 [honestly, I am trying] is “the most beautiful car I have ever designed.” Yes Marc, and the equally self-effacing Walter de Silva designed the Alfa 156 – and the original Audi A5… all by himself.

Do not look upon him, shallow ones. His Blessedness. (c) autodesignmagazine

To Sindelfingen then, and having already sold over 2.5 million of the last generation model, Mercedes have debuted their latest W206 generation C-Class saloon and estate. Mercedes have toyed with the proportions slightly, so it now enjoys shorter overhangs and a more cab-rearward stance, not to mention allegedly, [heavy sigh], a sportier demeanour. Well, it would, wouldn’t it?

But while there are perhaps at least two and a half million people worldwide whose hearts will be rendered afflutter by the advent of nu-C, the rest of us are likely to remain relatively unmoved. Not great, not terrible, Mercedes current mainstream design direction is wildly unremarkable. Yet, by contrast to its Swabian rivals, there is at least a consistency about Sindelfingen’s non-EV output which is notable by its absence given the toothy hilarity over at the Vierzylinder, to say nothing of the Lichte-helmed silliness at Ingolstadt.

And while it feels a little counter-intuitive to be speaking of Mercedes-Benz design in an even vaguely positive manner, even allowing for the fact that to go from awful to simply very bland hardly amounts to a recommendation, it does bear acknowledging that the current three pointed star offerings do not offend, largely because they don’t stand out in any palpable way whatsoever.

Gorden hates to disappoint, so it will surprise nobody that the following somewhat predictable message was received from a space both inside and outside of Mercedes’ Californian design studio. “We have created the most stylish and exclusive C-Class ever applying our company’s style of Sensual Purity. We create desire through the aesthetic beauty of sensuous surfaces, perfect sporty proportions, and an extraordinary ambience in the interior.” For which we give thanks.

But notwithstanding the certain knowledge that each are in thrall to their respective CEOs,[3] the German design-trio [and Mr. Dukec of course] continue to offer good value for the satirist. However, they are somewhat below adequacy when it comes to much by way of faith in the future direction of the motor car. Well remunerated they might be, but one has to question whether we, the putative consumer are getting our money’s worth?

[1] South East London football club, Millwall’s fans became notorious for unsavoury behaviour, their matchside chant being “No one likes us, we don’t care”. (Sung to the tune of Rod Stewart’s “We Are Sailing”).
[2] 9 minutes and 28 seconds of my life I’ll never get back.
[3] While each of the three design leaders have been in their roles for some considerable years now (and therefore have shown their creative hand), their respective CEO’s are all relatively new appointments – hence their design decisions somewhat remain to be seen.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

46 thoughts on “Pinned Together, Falling Apart”

  1. The diagnosis is still the same as before, isn’t it? Also Dutch names prove to be difficult once again.

    1. Good morning Freerk. Apologies for the typo, now corrected.

    2. Freerk: I’m tempted to suggest that rather than a regrettable typo, I was in fact expanding the vocabulary of the van Hooydonk name by pulling it further apart. And that it was deliberate. However, not only would that be an outright lie, it would also make no sense whatsoever…

  2. That is quite the aerodynamischer haarscheitel; somewhat negated by the flat fronted glasses and double breasted jacket.

  3. Good morning Eóin. There’s nothing I can add to your critique of the German trio’s current design trends. Regarding the new C-Class, Mercedes-Benz has maintained its recent reductionist tendency, softening or removing entirely feature lines from the previous model. Normally I would approve of this, but all it is achieving is to reveal how bland, dull and now overly familiar the underlying design (singular, for all current Mercedes-Benz saloons) is.

    Externally, the car is innofensive, apart from its ‘sad clown’ face, while the interior looks like a digital age reinterpretation of the late-1950’s chrome-laden American cars. The company has produced the video below to launch the new model. I detect a sense of desperation in the video, which is overly long, as the presenters try to convince us (and themselves?) that the new design is a big step forward.

    Here’s the video, with an interesting overlaid commentary from auto designer Niels van Roij:

    1. We´re in the late stages of the evolution of a design class, the ICE car. I am inclined to think that we were somewhat tricked by the enormous progress around 1955-80 that it would continue. Marketing demands progress to do its job and it does not like small signals. Nothing was ever emblazoned with a flash saying “slightly better than before” or “a bit different”. And there´s another thing, progress and difference are conflated in marketers´ minds and perhaps also in the minds of designers. I´d prefer if they were more honest in presenting the new thing. “The market has changed for this class of car and this is how we think that market´s needs might be met -whaddya think?” As opposed to: “The new Wolseley 34/99 GL sets soaring new heights in its precision and emotional impact. It is like all the love affairs and huge pleasures you have had in your life rolled into one blinding white flash of sensual intensity ….. so gaze now at the slimmer rear lamps with their command vortex scultpural forms…”. Car design has reached the stage architecture reached in 1980-something**. We´ve seen how much you can do if you throw away all the rules and we now have two basic design philosophies: 1) follow the conventions or 2) don´t follow the conventions.

      **Modernism was drained and stylistic changes were mostly driven by what was offered in the catalogues for window frames, doors and light fittings.

    2. You might be onto something, Richard, drawing parallels between 1980’s architecture and current automotive design. Modernism had become hugely discredited, not because of its inherent functionalist style, per se, but because so many modernist buildings were badly designed and terribly built. The post-modernists swept in, with their blatant plagiarizing of classical architectural styles and twee decorative motifs.

      For me, one of the most egregious examples of the era is Quinlan Terry’s Richmond Riverside development:

      Designed to look ‘nice’ and ‘fit in’ to it’s historic setting, I’m sure it met with widespread approval from the general public, but a second glance reveals its hideous lack of authenticity. Look in those ‘Palladian’ sash windows, and you will see bog-standard office suspended ceilings with fluorescent light units, the ceiling heights bearing no relationship to the facade, often slicing across the upper sash of the taller windows.

      With Mercedes-Benz at least, most the twee detailing is now on the inside. Those ‘turbine’ face vents could have come straight out of a 1959 Caddy. Herr Wagener would do well to remember just how quickly that style fell out of favour when the 1960’s arrived.

    3. I think the parallel with architecture is interesting, even though I think the postmodernist architecture is different in some ways as what we see now in car design.

      The complexity of forms is a motive you can find in both, but in architecture there were often conflicting elements as well, for instance plastic free forms combined with classical columns. I don’t think you see these conflicting elements in car designs at the moment. The bodywork has become a crease-fest in many cases, but the historic references don’t seem to be there.

      Fragmentation which is also apparent in some postmodernist buildings is largely absent in cars, but that is more because of the nature of cars I reckon

      Postmodernist architecture was literally rather colorful. A complaint I read here, as well as on other car sites, is that any colour goes as long it is black, a shade of grey or white.

    4. To contradict myself. Here’s a shot of car that was fragmented from the factory.

    5. Interesting point of discussion. I used to hate Quinlan Terry but these days I am more charitable. My original opinions were formed having read Frank McDonald in the Irish Times. His great campaigning to save Dublin´s fine architectural heritage is not undermined by his, in my view, stringent attitude to style. From a style point of view, I am quite broad in tastes. If it´s done well, I think any style can be good. If someone had the money to do another Renaissance palace I would not mind. What changed my mind was that deciding that there´s not really any such thing as authentic. And also that there is no such thing as a zeitgeist. That´s a construct which is prescriptive and not descriptive.
      If there´s something wrong with Terry´s work it´s that he didn´t work hard enough to reconcile the facade with the internal working of the building. That said, it looks okay from a distance whereas many modernist designs look offensive from any distance other than 50 cm!

    6. That’s an interesting point you’re making Richard. I have formal training in architecture at the same institute where Van Hooydonk and Van den Acker got their training in industrial design. Philosophy was one of the subjects. I passed the tests with flying colours, but I don’t have a firm stance on the concepts of authenticity or Zeitgeist.

      First of what does authenticity actually mean? In general terms I would say something like being true to your owns values regardless of circumstances, but will I never know what values a car designer really has? I doubt it.

      Looking at car design as an artistic endeavour, I think you mean how much of a designer’s work is his/her own and maybe also how much of the initial intention is present in the final product. A designer is obviously influenced by education, peers, environment and what not, so in that sense, the work might have been different in other circumstances. On top of that a car is such a complex product lots of people work on it, so in the end can you identify whose done exactly what. And does it matter? I can’t answer that.

      Then there’s Hegel’s concept of Zeitgeist (other philosophers have hinted at similar concepts, but Hegel’s term is widely known and used) where artistic endeavour must reflected both the culture and time in which it was made.

      I’m not going into a semantic discussion here, but if you look back and are trying to make sense of history you probably could come up with a descriptive Zeitgeist. If you try to describe the current Zeitgeist then I think it would be more prescriptive in nature, as in if you don’t agree with point a to z and refuse to sign at the dotted line you’re not part of our little clique.

      So what is exactly today’s Zeitgeist? Pandemic aside we have enjoyed times where we were safer than ever before, life expectancy increased and so on. Yet large numbers of us feel unsafe, are unwilling to accept mortality and drive SUV’s. It really is a strange world.

    7. A very interesting video indeed and I look forward to watching the upcoming ones from him on the Ioniq and Golf mk1.

      It has long struck me, as NvR says, that much of the way things are presented is childish and the film introducing the C-Class from M-B is no exception. If you watch adverts from several decades ago they are calm and are clearly aimed at adults. Some have humour but it’s subtle and relevant and not like watching a kids’ entertainer.

      I think there is a wider problem with the ‘infantalisation’ of society; bad behaviour on social media, virtue signaling and all the rest of are symptoms of the problem – actions without consequences. A lot of things which used to be difficult and valuable, including communication and design, have become much easier and have been devalued.

      I find the emotionless, meaningless overstatement in so many marketing pieces odd, too – sinister, actually.

      While what NvR says is all true – that the car has a somewhat anonymous and blobby design – a lot of people, especially those who are briefly leasing the car, won’t care. That’s not a good reason to do poor design, but it does explain its future assured sales success.

      Incidentally – he says that he quite likes the car’s proportions; I personally find them a bit odd, especially the length of the area between the front door and the wheel arch.

    8. “Then there’s Hegel’s concept of Zeitgeist (other philosophers have hinted at similar concepts, but Hegel’s term is widely known and used) where artistic endeavour must reflected both the culture and time in which it was made. ”
      It´s Hegel´s idea which has led to misunderstanding. I don´t agree with Roger Scruton´s political philosophy but his writing on architecture demolishes the zeitgeist concept (I recommend his 1979 book The Aesthetics of Architecture).
      The zeitgeist is a construct formulated by someone to suit some ends or values (fine) but it should not be passed off as a thing “out there” to which we conform. I notice some architects deplore reference to tradition, insisting on the freedom to pursue their artistic vision. Yet at the same time they seem to suggest laws of physics and respect for the current time compel certain solutions.

    9. There are basically two schools of thought on Zeitgeist in architecture. There’s historicism (which does support the idea of a spirit of a certain age manifested in architecture) and vernacularism (which focuses on building traditions that exist in a certain time and place).

      Scruton’s book the Aesthetics of Architecture was part of our curriculum. Scruton is obviously very educated and his book well written. His main argument against historicism is that you can only determine the Zeitgeist after the fact. That’s a fair point, that considerably weakens the historicists point of view. However it doesn’t solve anything, nor does it necessarily support vernacularism or his own views.

      What it also does not support is the need for a ‘grammar’ (a set of rules for the combination and application of elements) in architecture of which he was such a fierce proponent. Scruton used classicism (in what might be called a Zeitgeist kind of way) as a an example of a style that has such a grammar. Isn’t that ironic?

    10. Freerk: good answer. If I could boil it down to an actionable “ought” statement it is that a architects should pay heed to the surroundings into which the building is placed. In some instances this might result in a legitimately discordant design and I can think of some cases where this worked. However, mostly this precept would mean respecting the local colour and material and heights. This leaves room for gradual change and also tonnes of scope for the geometry of the windows and doors and even the relief of the facade. In Goslar there is a 1980s modernist shopping centre slam in the middle of 2-3 storey late medieval and early Renaissance buildings. I have no problem with it becaause they chose sensible colours for the modern materials. A bad example is on a neighbouring street were Gudnitz & Co chose black brick for an infill among light grey buildings. The geometry and scale of the building is fine but the colour is from what Bill Bryson called the “f*** you school of architecture.” In more civil terms, it was discourteous to the adjoining buildings and, in artistic terms, made no contribution to architectural discourse.
      So, even my conception allows for striking statements and hence I love the Berkeley Library which is pure 1969 right next to the best of 1850 and 1700 (all they had to do was choose a suitable material and they did).
      Another nice book to look at the On The Aesthetics of Architecture by Ralf Weber.

  4. For a moment there, Eóin, you had me thinking Audi had slipped out a car for Mr. Tayto (!
    I don’t know whether we get the design leaders we deserve or not: I do rather think we get the design we deserve. Thus the products we are offered end up reflecting, God help us all, the preoccupations of the society into which they are sold, as snapshot two or three years before they go on sale. Christopher caught that very nicely on his Design Field Trip when he analysed the influence of gangstas and hipsters on car design.
    The question that intrigues me is, how much of this is a feed back loop? I’m not suggesting Adrian van Hoydoonk, Marc Lichte, or Gorden Wagener could do anything in particular to slow society’s apparent descent into ever more aggressively opposed factions, but it feels like each wave of shouty SUVs and enormously tyred sports saloons is priming buyers to expect even more extreme features in the next wave. It’s all a bit like a superhero comic franchise; surely there must come a point where customers decide, this is just too silly, and walk away.

    1. Oh I do so hope they do – trouble is, they can only walk away when there is a better alternative on offer. And from where will it come?

  5. Sartorial note: double-breasted jacket? At a desk?

    To be charitable, the photo draws from formal traditions of portrait painting from the 19th century, heavy with symbolism and carefully composed. It´s not intended to to be taken literally but I might suggest that it would have worked better if they´d hire a painter to do it in oils.

    1. Richard, your remark is surgically precise.

      It seems that the boundaries between good taste and utilitarian kitsch are ebbing away under the corporate thrivings for “social intelligence”.

      Employing superficiality into brand value is a surefire telltale of an ongoing divorce of culture from product placement.

      Humour is thin on the ground,
      setting the landscape for a dishonest quasi-aesthetic drill.

  6. Great article. The 21st century hasn’t produced many great pieces of automobile design. Walter de Silva didn’t do too badly, but my money would be on Laurens van den Acker ( Dutch again – is there something in the water there ?)

    1. Interesting point, Mervyn. Being Dutch, the thing I miss most when I’m abroad is our tapwater, especially when I’m away for an extended time. It has higher quality standards (by law) than bottled water and food products. The drinking water companies themselves have higher standards still to make sure they meet those requirements.

  7. Perhaps Herr Lichte was cold? I see what you mean, Richard. In a previous century there would be a favourite horse or hound outside the stables/yard. The set up does appear chilly, austere though.

    Looking more closely, Adrian looks positively fed up. It’s only Gorden who appears at ease. That must be the California weather. Or something.

    I’m trying to think of another industry where the product is lauded as much yet those heavily involved seem to prefer the shadows. “Coming to the car clinic, Adrian?” Nah, I’m checking the football scores…

  8. It’s telling that the exalted trio needs labels like “elegant creators” , “dynamic and high caliber” and of
    course the dreaded “sensual purity” to describe their work. Pininfarina, Bertone, Bertoni and Giugiaro’s creations were never accompanied by some contrived slogan- it was the public that awarded their works with terms such as “beautiful”, “daring”, “elegant” and “commercial” (meant as a compliment in this context) respectively.
    This need to put a label on your product in an effort to impress on someone else how it is that the world should see it and you reminds me of those countries that have the word “democratic” in their name: they are anything BUT- The democratic republic of North Korea, the Deutsche Democratische Republik being two prime examples.

    1. Hi Bruno. It’s all redolent of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, don’t you think?

      And, speaking of clothes, white trousers, Gorden, really?

  9. A chief designer once told me that any chief designer willing to have his photo taken with pen in hand should be relieved of his duties with immediate effect.

    1. Christopher: I had to laugh, yes, the schtick is preposterous. It reminds me of the estblishing shots used in news footage. As the voice over explains something abstract and hard to film, the image shows the minister/politician sits at a desk leafing through documents or scribbling (obviously they´ve been asked to do this by the director). Another one is the “sad case” news story where subject is seen looking out the window as if caught by chance by the camera; it´s more of “can you stand and look out the window, love? We need some pictures for the report”.
      The trick with publicity shots is to make it look plausible. Either let a snapper roam for a few hours as the director really does her or his job or else have a standard looking-at-the-camera image.

    2. Yes, the blatant symbolism is rather silly. However, the original comment was to do with the fact that chief designers aren’t required to/mustn’t do any sketching themselves. This sort of imagery, which adds to the popular myth that chief designers sit by their drawing boards all day long, single-handedly creating car designs, is also rather offensive towards the people who do the designing in the real world.

      Of course, there are worse cases, such as chief designers who either do sketches of the results of their team’s work (as if they were proof of some ‘eureka’ moment, when the boss suddenly came up with the finished design on a single sheet of paper) or even those who sign sketches done by their underlings.

      Despite being minor offences by comparison, those ‘genius creatives at work’ photos are a cliché that deserves obsolescence.

    3. I agree with all of that. The number of conceptual fallacies involved in the “genius at desk” is remarkable but I especially dislike the idea one drawing is the core of the design, eliding all the research and experiments before and all the research and experiments after. Some cars are in terms of lines and proportions not so mind-blowing but have surface qualities that are breathtaking. One drawing does not capture that.

  10. relived? Experiencing it once wasn’t enough? Sorry couldn’t help myself here. I’m reminded of the three piece suite we had the other day. Missed that one.

  11. An interesting article Eóin. Having read it, and most of the comments too, maybe everyone is feeling “down in the dumps” having gone through difficult twelve months and their opinions reflect that?
    Don’t get me wrong as I agree that the front end of the “C Class” is awful, the rear isn’t much better and the dashboard area…. I just feel that some of what has happened since the ’80’s hasn’t been all bad.

    1. Hello Mike – I think after a pretty bad period in terms of design, we’re now in a transitional phase. We’re seeing new, attractive (to me, at least) designs such as the Ioniq 5 from Hyundai and I think it will take some time – perhaps 5 to 10 years – before things really get going.

      I expect a lot of fresh thinking to come from Asia and I think the point many people are making here is that given some European designers’ exalted positions and ludicrous PR statements, we deserve a lot better.

      You’re right about there being some good designs already in existence – the Volvo S90, various Mazdas, etc. Opel/Vauxhall is showing very promising signs and without wishing to push my luck, I think the Audi e-tron GT is heading in the right direction.

      I actually think the new C-Class is an improvement on the old one, but I look forward to watching the video which Daniel posted.

    2. Hi Charles
      I tend to agree with you about the transitional phase. Had a look at the Ioniq just unsure about all the lines across the doors. Front looks good to me though. I currently have a Mercedes W204 and am happy overall with how that looks. The new version, particularly inside, just seems so complicated and unnecessary to me I’m afraid.

  12. Test post (I set up a wordpress/gravatar account earlier, not sure if I can post now using the email address I was using before!)

    1. Hi Michael, your test post was sitting in the approval queue. I’ve approved it so future posts should go straight through, if you would like to try another test.

    2. Thanks, Daniel! I was dismayed this morning when I wrote a couple of paragraphs on a touch screen (before breakfast, too) and they disappeared into the electronic aether. I was hoping it was just that they were still queued, but I wanted to be sure.

    3. Michael: You initial comment (x2) found itself in the spam folder. Holding my nose and averting my eyes from the cryptocurrency sellers, porn-purveyors and drug dealers, I gingerly extracted it, gave it a wipe-down and set it back onto the path of righteousness. (I binned the second one, since it was identical and I’m sure you didn’t wish to repeat yourself…)

      I’d love to be able to offer a robust explanation as to why WordPress chooses to sometimes render comments which include embedded hyperlinks into the spam folder; perhaps there is some algorithm which identifies potential spam in this fashion. And by the way, the Tayto crisps reference wasn’t lost on me either. Perhaps Mr. Lichte has a penchant – although he doesn’t really look the type.

  13. Obviously the works of these people portrayed are so important and earth-shattering, that the comments are predominantly about double-breasted jacket and white combat jeans.

    All very telling.

  14. Perchance Herr Thingy at Audi (Already forgotten his name), is using tailoring to pay homage to Bruno Sacco who always seemed to be photographed in a grey double breasted suit. Maybe it was the era, Massimo Tamburini who designed and cofounded Bimota, as well as designing the Ducati 916 motorbike and it’s mini-me the Cagiva Mito 125 Ev, was often snapped in (More grotty, low buttoned Phil Collins-esque) double breasted suits. Of the older school of designers only Uwe Bahnsen seemed to be pictured in decent tailoring.

    If they contribute so much to global warming just by opening their mouths, then the manufacturer that by-passes human design gurus completley and just lets the CAD design the whole thing, will perversely be the manufacturer that has something (Thought provoking) to actually say. Would it be possible to do this with technology as it is now? I don’t mean will it be attractive but will it be a viable proposition to assemble, sit in and drive? Maybe a USP for “High-tech” Tesla, so that they’ll still stand for something different once electric cars are the norm. Another justification for Tesla; post Cybertruck, no one has any expectations for their design language. Style their next vehicle by computer or by chimpanzees, it’s still likely to exceed their latest benchmark.

  15. Some of the comments here regarding stagnation in architecture seem to disregard or minimize the likes of Frank Gehry, which reminds me of a certain auto designer.

    Are we not impoverished and diminished for his general absence of late?

    Would it make any difference if Van Hooydonk were to start drawing again?

    1. Gooddog, I never liked Chris Bangle’s BMW’S that made it to production but I saw the Gina in the metal/nylon at a Design Museum exhibition a few years ago and haven’t got over it. It must be the most beautiful concept car ever and BMW wise it kicks Gandini’s Garmisch concept all the way down the stairs.

    2. Richard, I had meant for the fourth image in that series to be:

      However it likely wouldn’t change your response.

      I’d like to point out that we could discuss the reasons why E65, or E60 or the first Z4 fails to please one’s sensibilities, but nobody would say that they are crass, trite, inconsequential or forgettable, which is how I would describe the current generation of BMWs, especially now that the again controversial but still consequential i3 and i8 (never explicitly connected with CB, but seemingly conceived by a creative culture whose momentum has now completely dissipated) have departed.

      I will hypothesize here that Van Hooydonk is today’s Irv Rybicki (even if you can’t abide that CB was at all like Bill Mitchell.

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