CNN just published a pretty large piece on Giorgetto Giugiaro. He was the first designer I ever read about at age 13 or 14
Reflecting on this a little- Are there any iconoclast automotive designers left out there today? Is this why we see so much ‘me too’ cross-referencing, focus -grouping and conformism across the globe? Has ‘Brand’ superseded design and innovation as the primary value and sales driver? I mean, take the badges off some cars today and it’s hard to tell between them.
(Oh and the Fiat Panda- My first car back in 1980. I loved the no-shit, flat glass aesthetic)
Great question. Do you think some of this has to do with everything being in-housed or contract designers being Brough in house to work? Back in Guigaro’s day think of how many external car design firms there were:
Ital Design (Guigaro)
Ghia (one of the first to be bought and brought in house, by ford)
I’m sure many more that I’m not thinking of. Maybe with the outside perspective it led to more interesting things.
Part of it might the corporatization of the car market. Lambo, Ferrari, Porsche (pre-1970), Lotus, Jensen, Alfa Romeo (pre-1986), Lancia (pre-1969), Maseratti (pre-1993), Volvo (pre-1999), Saab (pre1989) were either privately held or quirky small companies before being acquired by conglomerates that have to maximize profit. I bet it was easier to get iconoclasts like Enzo Ferrari or Colin Chapman to sign off on something unique than it is to get a bunch of mid-level managers from GM to.
In addition, these corporations want to retain the cachet of their own designs than give a studio credit. A huge part of the value to BMW (despite recent work) is their design department. If they always hired Pininfarina, then any other car firm could hire Pininfarina and the value of the design for BMW would be diluted.
There might be a silver lining though. VW has said they will make their new electric car platform available for others to develop on. Perhaps the future will be a few big makes building the greasy bits and smaller companies building the bodies.