Electric aesthetics

So, I’m in the middle of a project which seems to result in the product going from a Gas propulsion to electrical. (Working on a wakeboard winch)

I am currently thinking / analysing, how the exterior reflects what’s on the interior. I know its a pretty common discussion, but I’ve never been blessed of participating in it with any professionals.
It seems pretty obvious that new aesthetics to common products would be a suitable path to go, both because of technical package, but as well as for the intuition of the consumer.

What products today are moving away from petroleum and in to the electric era?
The first one that came to my mind was the automotive industry, but it seems like its also the slowest and most resiliant one?
I see a lot of electric lawn mowers. (but they have existed for ages, but atleast they are going chordless now) It’s also an industry that seems to get more and more influenced by the automotive one, as they go deeper in to the electric path.
FX the husqvarna robot

And then we have the bicycle industry, that is adding an engine, to a product that used to be 100% manpowered.

And imo, they are effectively killing off one of the purest aesthetics of an everyday object. (Very personal opinion, but please share what your stance is)

One of the paradoxes i’m struggeling with right now, is that of electric motorcycles. The speedbikes to be specific.
To me, it seems like an object, almost born to carry the electrical aesthetic from day 1. It just seems like a perfect match.
It expresses both lightweight, rationalised accessories, speed and agility. All in a very compact package. Is TRON affecting my judgement?

How do you perceive the aesthetics of electric products? Does most of it make sense, or are we a bit schizophrenic at the moment. Im sure the automotive pro’s discuss this all the time. It seems like everything that is electric is suffering from over cladding/encapsulating, there is ofcourse technical reason for it. But is it too dictacting / creating a norm for what it should look like.

What does traits / characteristics should we embrace, and what should be discarded and brought along from the petroleum era?

Hope I made some sense. I’ll probably add some more thoughts or answers when I’ve thought a bit more about it.

I think i will have to look in to what happened between the horse-carriage and the car. Just remembered the house for cars thread… :slight_smile:

Interesting. One product that has always been electric but has evolved a lot is the Vacuum cleaner. From the old metal canisters, to the simple Miele work, to Dyson, and I’ve seen some interesting Hoover uprights that have their dust bags in a soft goods enclosure like a backpack. Pretty cool. All look electric.

There have been a host of electric concept cars this year, most notables from France in my opinion. And then there are things that are not electric but look it, the Kia Soul, all of the Mazda concepts last year, the Nissan Cube.

I also think it might be time for the Spny Sports Walkman look to make a come back.

According to me, the automotive sector is badly hit by the arrival of electric, hybrid,solar,etc concepts. Even major auto companies are coming up with aesthetically ugly concepts, I can’t call them cars, some look like alien stuffs and some prehistoric . Attaching few of them here.

One more…

Just some thoughts with regards to a product changing appearance with electricity…

The shaving razor has dramatically changed its appearance since electricity came along …Perhaps paper books to e-readers.
…Largely mechanical dial phones to todays digital crop…Lots of previously mechanical gauges and dials are going the electric route too it seems.

…prison bars to electronic ankle tags… explosive /physical force vs the incomming crop of directed energy weapons…(batons to tazers)… ( perhaps I am going off course now :wink:

no no, keep em coming :slight_smile: I’ve mainly looked at objects that go from petrol to electrical, but the more the merrier!

Yes! This was a product I actually looked at, but didn’t really consider. But since you mention it, it has had a very interesting transformation. From the beginning, the form was more discriptive, and then turned in to this ambiguous car styling. However, dyson did return the former a bit.

What I’ve been very interested in at the moment are the structural elements surrounding the technology. I think some of my frustration is the fact that it gets tucked away with cladding in general.
I have been looking at these two a lot, to try to figure out why it captivates me. One being petrol, the other being electric.

Does it have to look electric? See: LincVolt

In terms of automobiles, the general American public (that is to say Midwesterners, etc. with set in stone view points) would respond well to products that look identical to their petroleum based brethren, yet are electrically powered.

I think the detailing of Fuseproject’s Mission really get at an electric aesthetic very nicely while the
stance and silhouette maintain more of the traditional “crotch rocket”

One product I am thinking of is the toothbrush. I think electric toothbrushes are given weird lines just to incorporate the electric mechanisms.

great example on the shavers!

funny thing is, that kind of looks like an electric razor…

I love that bike, I’m ashamed to say I did not realize fuse worked on that… you schooled me.

Counter example -

Analog cameras vs. digital.

The trend now seems to be making digital camera more like their predecessors.


Ha! Never noticed before…

Glad to move some knowledge back up stream from time to time :slight_smile:

That reminds me of another take on an electric bike (from the coroflot portfolio of Miguel Ángel Iranzo Sánchez) with a more vintage point of view that I wanted to post before, but I couldn’t seem to make it fit, but that camera example is a good jumping off point for this “neo-retro electro aesthetics” … that’s a mouthful

Thanks for all the great examples. Got my head going!

Richard: That camera gets extremely schizophrenic with those analog gauges. Think I stopped and stared at those for a good 5 minutes…

I like that. Most electric products tend to aim for a futuristic look. Leica and Tivoli audio come to mind as the opposite though (and Richards samsung example). I’m wondering if this perception of electricity and the future is what shapes everything in that futuristic way. Is electricity really that mystical and un-tamed compared to oil/petrol propulsion systems?

I found something that really tickled my fancy. Visual structural elements and electric. Think the side panels could have been done in a nicer way but none the less.

Hey Bjorn, a lot of the elements of this example don’t say anything about electric to me and looks more like styling variations on a Ducati minus the exaust pipes. But then it’s almost like they said, “somethings missing… we don’t have any big cylindrical exhaust elements, I know lets use the headlights and forks speak to that,”

so the long and short of it, I would say, electric or not, this example doesn’t seem to have an electric aesthetic, but rather it’s an electric bike which carries a more traditional gas moto aesthetic.

Yes. You are absolutely right! The reason why I did fall for this was mainly due to the structural elements. It’s on of my fetishes right now i guess. Anyway, im still looking for electrical products, which aren’t completely encapsuled with different kinds of covers. Even though, the structural elements of this bike doesnt really have anything to do with the propulsion system, but its still somewhat in the direction of what I think could look better.

If i could change something on this, it would definately be the headlights and the engine cover. To enhance what seems to be missing.

I have always liked this was a pretty sharp looking bike. -It is powered by a removable hydrogen fuel cell.