minus ten – May 1999

minus-ten-may-1999

“minus ten” is a look back 10 years to see what was going on. I’ll pick out what I feel got Stuck in Time, good or bad design that was clearly of the moment. Ahead of Time will be a look at something that had brought some insight to the future and finally, the Test of Time will soon be design classics, at least imho.

Karim Rashid’s work for Issey Miyake = Ahead of Time simple clean lines and forms, so clean that maybe even puts this in the Test of Time category. What year was it that he went the way of the blobject? I wonder if Issey was heavily directing the project?  If you don’t think the square, simple lines were ahead of time…then take at look below, won’t find a sqaure or a simple line in what got stuck.

karim-19991

How many ellipses can you put on a product?  How many ellipses can you use to shape a product?  How many ellipses can you put together, to make other shapes, that, look like ellipses?  Ellipses = Stuck in Time

altitude-1999

And back to the sharp edge, this design from what I understand, put the Cadillac division in the black.  4 years after the concept, the 2003 CTS  showed up in the Matrix Reloaded and whether or not you think this car started the chamfer/sharp/edgy forms, it was clearly Ahead of Time.

cadillac-1999

Oh and frog on the back cover, touting web design, for the SFMOMA.

From ID Magazine, May 1999.

swine flu and design

swineflu

On my way home, NPR was interviewing a psychologist about people’s fear of the unknown, in this case, Swine Flu. Basically, the Doctor was saying that people are afraid of Swine Flu because no one can connect the dots around who might get it or not, hence it seems, random. He went on to say that even though statistically, more people die from driving cars and crossing busy streets, people and the press don’t seem to obsess over this. Why? His theory was that driving cars and crossing busy streets puts the user in control, hence it feels like a normal experience, nothing noteworthy to speak of.

caraccident

So your chances of dieing are greater on the streets but since people aren’t in control of Swine Flu, it becomes a larger issue in their minds. So is it fair to say that people start to act irrationally when it comes to things unknown even though statistics prove there are larger issues at hand?  Why don’t people wear bright orange safety vests when crossing the streets?

swineflu1

So how does this connect to design? In design research, consumers are asked to comment on something really new. Ask a bunch of people about something they aren’t sure about, have no prior knowledge of and something they haven’t experienced before, basically, the unknown, how do you think they’ll respond? What is the psychology of the response? Will they be able to provide a rational answer? Will they try to tap into what they know but can’t since they are being asked to comment on the unknown and answer irrationally? People don’t want to sound stupid, yeah? So will they hide their fear of the unknown and pull a response out of their ass, hence sounding stupid?  Dooohh!

Good researchers will say that HOW the respondents are recruited and HOW research itself is conducted should prevent those irrational answers.  But does that weird psychology take over?

Challenger challenge

challenger_ces_og

From a previous post, I bashed the new Dodge Challenger Life After Steroids. Well I actually got to see both the original and new Challenger at CES and now can give you an in person assessment. I still like the original.  The new is nice, but doesnt have the flair of the original.

challenger_ces2

What do you think?

Which version of the Dodge Challenger do you like the best?

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wow, you cant make up stuff like this

Reading a few more articles in the WSJ, I came across this one about the Honda Fit. The article challenges Americans to see if they really need big, fat trucks and SUV’s. The article was fine, but the first post back was the entertaining bit. Here it is:

“There is no “one size fits all” auto out there. Some people need GM trucks or SUV’s because they haul something for go camping or live in areas where it’s snows. I’ve had a small car before and you are very limited on what you can do with them. If you buy something large at the mall, you have to call a friend with a GM truck or suv to pick it up from the store.

So the Fit gets 36mpg and you are forgot to say oil is trading at $46. The 15mpg SUV you must have tried is the Toyota which gets around 16mpg and uses premium gas. Stick with American autos and you get better MPG readings and better quality. Something a quality article would have mentioned.”

I buy large stuff at Malls like this all the time, I think I need a truck to take that roller coaster home, nuff said.

Not what I expected from Ford

or actually, maybe this is what I should have expected from one of our Triumphant Trios from Detroit.

Heres the article from the WSJ about how Ford is going to appeal to consumers with self parking cars.

In summary, Ford is using technology similar to the Lexus self parking system. They are planning to put this into nice, big Lincolns, a sedan and a Cross Over vehicle. (BTW, is the word “cross over” attempting to trick us consumers into thinking that the SUV is dead and the car companies are offering up a great new thing?) Anyhow, I guess auto parking makes sense since big ass cars are so hard to park. According to the WSJ writer, Mullaly thinks this will cast Ford in a more favorable light. Uh Ok, I see Ford in a new light now and its darker than ever.

Adding more money, more technology, for a “low on the list” feature just doesn’t seem right…give us consumers something that has meaning and value, especially in an economy that has people re-evaluating their priorities in life. Ford may have dumped their stable of private jets, but their priorities sure don’t seem aligned to what’s happening with the rest of the world.

Life after steriods

Back in the 70s, Dodge made cars on steriods. Barracuda, Hemi Cuda, Roadrunner, Charger all stuffed with Hemi’s and 440 was the displacement to have. Throw on dual quads and you’d be getting, about 3 miles a gallon! Mopar defined what it meant to be a muscle car. Big engines, bold style and tasty chrome treatments. Fast forward to 2006 and we have the new Challenger.

Let’s look at the design. Its really, really close to the original, but different. Its softer, the belt line is now just a tiny little crease to catch a highlight. That line used to be so pronouced, you could just about place a beer can on it. The front end has lost its aggresive, shark like, i’m going to eat you alive look. Now it looks like a cute baby shark that hasnt had its first taste of surfer yet. And where’s the chrome? I have to say, i’m dissappointed. It looks like Barry Bonds coming off steriods, the outline is there, but what defines the muscle has faded and is turning into fat.

I feel like with the Big 3 are running out of new ideas and have lost the guts to create what made legends: Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, Corvette, GTO and the list goes on. Today, we just get a range of ok to bad reproductions with working A/C.

What has the better design? The original or updated Challenger?

  • I like the orignal (100%, 2 Votes)
  • I like the new version (0%, 0 Votes)
  • They both suck, why can't car companies do something original? (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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Portfolio

What does this image have in common: all are vehicles, all have 4 wheels, all can get you from A to B? The answer for this exercise is “Honda”.

I’m writing this mostly because I read some of the funniest reviews at places like CNet and Gizmodo. “…this video media player would be better if it could also take pictures and send them wirelessly to my grandma…” Wait a second, do the reviewers have a concept of what a “portfolio” is? Automotive companies usually do a pretty good job at developing this. Reviews tend to be myopic, try to look at products individually AND have consideration for the big picture. Every company should have a Strategy that takes into account people’s needs, the brand, ability to produce, market size and many, many other components. This Strategy, is usually reflected in the portfolio.

Does Brand Matter? Honey I shrunk the Hummer

The new H3 looks like a shrunken version of the H2. Can you tell which one is a 2 or 3? Doesn’t this go against what Hummer is all about, BIG, BOLD, MILITARY? If people want a small hummer, I guess that’s cool, but could GM have done something different? They had to retool most of the exterior body panels right? Why not make some good design changes? Was this the easy thing to do? “Jim, scale the CAD files down to 70%.” Was this what “consumers” wanted? “I want a small hummer, ooh that would be cute!” If so, maybe consumers don’t care about what all the brand experts develop and communicate. Do consumers want their personal version of whatever is they think is hot? Maybe GM did this because Apple seems to keep shrinking ipods and it seems to work for them!

Stick to you guns. From my brand point of view, what GM just did would be analogous to using the same design for the current Mini and blowing it up into a “mid sized” station wagon. Would that still be a Mini? I guess they could rename it “Midi”, but that might confuse all the people out there in the music world.

Oh, the image on the bottom is the H3.