Pissed off about crowd sourcing design contests

Just read that Peterbuilt teamed up with Local Motors to redesign their new truck. :neutral_face: My comment in the link below sums up how I feel about this:


Is Chris Ito still running things at Peterbilt?

Well, that was a very well put reply (which you should include in your original post in case it gets deleted)…

…but it’s always been that way, hasn’t it?

And what I mean is that the successful will take advantage of the less successful. As a designer you take internships and low entry pay for the opportunity to work with someone or something successful, and of course they profit from it. Some plaes are even infamous for low wages, yet have no problems finding people.

However, there is a good kind of crowd sourcing these days, called Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which turns all that on its head, if you are lucky or clever…

Also, since the Rally Fighter wasn’t a disruptive runaway success, I don’t think this project will be that either.

Good passion and good call out on the competition, I saw it a few days ago, on core77 main page, actually “in conjunction with Core77” and got that design competition sinking feeling as well.

But. They seem like they do “design”, the 579 on the main page of their site is not a bad blend of tradition and current surfacing.

The fact that the design of the truck in the competition is decades old is actually a good thing, no new tooling, no obsolescence, stability, no owner-envy-churn at new series of body panels…

In terms of a mass middle market brainstorming exercise, this competition is a good way to do it. Local Motors, which was my first exposure to crowd design was such a huge disappointment to me in terms of BS aesthetics. It turned out, Detroit’s “design by committee” was only reverse trumped by “design by internet democracy”.

This is not an “elite” product.

They would benefit more from an initial round of 10,000 amateur concepts of “what a truck should be” then going to [insert names of any five top tier design agencies here], and that is disregarding the serious multiple of the money.

The actual development of this project will take in excess of several million dollars in development and tooling and promotion, and will employ dozens of trained professionals. There is no going around this step, they will spend the money and they will advance the field of talent.

After thinking about it, this competition, for this brand, is a right exploration.

But not for an elite brand. Win $20K Worth of Porsche (or Cash) in Co.Design x Porsche's "Next Design" Challenge - Core77

First of all it made me mad, too. All those online competitions.
But has is et ever progressed a major brand into the right direction?

Peugeot did it for some years. They have stopped it.

As far as Peterbilt is concerned. “Let’s see what developes.”


On a side note. I only saw “Convoy” ages ago, which shaped my
idea of american truckers. But how is the market segmented today.
The offerings of Mack and Peterbilt look like it is 1985, again.
Still the dominant brands?


I think you articulated yourself fairly well, whether I agree or disagree with your view point. But at the end of your statement you lose all credibility in your argument by dropping the Fbomb and turn your whole argument into something that sounds more like an unprofessional and immature child who couldn’t articulate their emotions.

If you were in a board room arguing a passionate point with co-workers / clients / bosses who ever… would you drop the f bomb in such a manner? I am not trying to be demeaning, you are a talented and intelligent designer, but your online persona has a tendency to stray and venture into an area that can do more harm for your reputation and how people perceive what you say then good.


Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have dropped the f-bomb. Point taken.

However… I’ve never seen a company have such balls before. Typically these crowd-sourced brainstorming activities result in a mixed bag of half-baked ideas, but they went so far as to create a skeletal CAD file, so that you are designing around the real proportions of the vehicle. This is a HUGE difference from a bunch of concept sketches, they’re basically saying they’re looking for an idea that’s so “close” to reality that they don’t have to do much work. That is far removed from the typical concept sketch, where people have to apply the typical distorted proportions to reality. What’s next?

“Hey guys, feel free to do a few months of research, ideations, concept sketches, refinements, CAD model, and a prototype and maybe we’ll pay you 5 grand, but if we don’t we still get to keep your ideas.”

Uh. Okay.

It just seems like they’ve taken the contest thing WAY too far this time.

Chris Ito is a good guy, knows what he is doing, knew him when he was at ASC years ago.

If Peterbilt had any sense they’d be actively seeking out the opinions of their base customers, not trying to hype a bunch of crap onto them.

Besides, it’s not so much what’s at the front, it’s what’s at the back, but they don’t make that… so hype is all they have left to boost sales. You’re not going to improve fuel efficiency by adding a bunch of zoomy plastic shapes to the front of the tractor. And fuel efficiency is what any truck company wants from it’s equipment.

Components of the SmartTruck Under Tray System: A) Front Tray Fairing, B) Axle Fairing, C) Rear Diffuser, D) Aerodynamic Rain Gutter, E) Side Fairings. Nose Fairing not shown (looks like a bug guard on the nose of the tractor).

If’n they was smart, they’d be building trailers to go along with their tractors.

In my experience, these crowd sourcing efforts tend to be more about PR than solutions. When have you ever heard of a beautiful, iconic, industry leading, and useful product coming out of that process?

I’ll tell you what I actually like about crowd sourcing though, it in advertantly is an advertisement for professional design. Lots of people enter and they learn how difficult it is to design something that is worthwhile. The company learns you have to actually pay professionals to get professional work, and the students who enter get a portfolio piece, maybe a little PR out of it, and they learn there is a lot more to a finished design than the original sketch.

A few crowd sourcing platforms have actually asked me to submit to lend them some legitimacy. Typically I reply that I would love to, they just need to send me a check for $50,000 and then I would get right on that entry… I don’t get a lot of replies :wink:


I haven’t had a good laugh like that in the morning for weeks. It was more than a double “ROFL”, you know.


good point about the trailers. Nobody in the business does it. I frankly have no clue
why. The contrast gets extremely visible here:

Colani with Daimler Benz (in 1978, yikes, I was a toddler back then…)

They followed up on it with this some 20 years later and it still is science fiction

To built a good truck they could learn a lot from the european Caravaning industrie, that learned to achieve
better driver integration, ergonomics and chasing higher Mpegs with likewise simple wireframe “tractors”:


The problem is most truckers don’t own the trailer, and they tow various trailers belong to various companies. My senior thesis was about low cost aero add-ons for existing tractor trailers, so I’m familiar with the territory, somewhat.

I like the skirt idea…seems ready for production.

I’ve seen both the under skirts and the extended “fairing/shroud” on the back of the trailer before. It was actually pretty slick, it folded right up so you could still pull into a standard dock door.

The under skirts have been around for a few years now, and seem to provide more places for advertising/graphics.

…seems ready for production.

The actual number of registered semi trailers in the U.S is unknown, but estimates vary from between 8.5 and 10 million.

With that kind of market I think I’d invest in a company like Smart Truck. The beauty of the thing is, unlike tractors, trailers are basically “universal”, specified width, deck height is dictated by loading dock heights, and running gear is essential the same. Surprising no one got serious about this sooner … much sooner. There might even be a niche for rebuilding trailers with performance fairings. WalMart alone operates about 7,200 tractor/trailer combinations, with extra trailers on hand. UPS? FedEX, etc.?

If you check out Smat Trucks business partners you will see several familiar name, NASA, FritoLay and Pepsico being among them .

I’ll play the muse. Consider a Core77 crew assembling to enter designs in contests such as these to prove the value of our profession.

I’ll say nothing more.