Mind and metal benders, compliments of Chris Labrooy. View more via jalopnik.
Don Koberg: The Universal Traveler
Early thoughts and primers on the creative process and design thinking.
William Lidwell: Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
A good reminder of 100 things to check when designing. (****)
Christopher Alexander: The Timeless Way of Building
Revisiting the themes put forward in this first of three books in a series by Christopher Alexander.
NEIL POSTMAN: Technopoly : The Surrender of Culture to Technology
A classic gut check for those enamored with the technology pervading our lives. (****)
Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice : Why More Is Less
Trying to choose wisely.
Those developing current and next generation driver assistance systems will need to stay vigilant with regards to hacking on the go. Chris Valasek, Director of Security Intellligence at IOActive and Charlie Miller, Security Engineer at Twitter bring the threats to life in dramatic fashion during a recent test drive with Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg back in July.
This recent IIHS crash test footage is scary stuff and good to keep in mind the next time find yourself following a semi truck. Why not back off just a bit? Oh yeah, and while you are at it, write the makers of Manac/Trailmobile and thank them for desiging and producing proper trailer underride crash components.
This "Hyper-Matrix" work from the media artist group Jonpasang made the rounds a whlie ago but seeing it again, as well as the "making of" video gives me new found respect for those out there who are taking experiences like this squarely to new levels of execution and excitement.
The Cadillac ELR design has been getting a lot of attention at the bivouac lately. In addition to the striking design and progressive technologies both inside and out, various small details stand out in a good way as well. Cadillac logo placement within both headlamp and tail light elements is well executed. Each adds an elegant and refreshingly understated, yet dynamic signature touch. That's a tough middle ground to hit. Here's hoping such attention to detail lights the way to forward to continued impressive designs coming out of the Cadillac studio in 2013 and beyond.
With the release of the production version of the Cadillac ELR at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past week, General Motors proved yet again that energy behind the resurgence of the American automotive industry remains high. Any time a vehicle manufacturer comes out with such a stunning concept car, as they did in 2009 with their Converj concept, and manages to stay so faithful to the original concept vision, that company certainly deserves high praise. Audi came close to this sort of effort when they introduced the production version of the TT in terms of staying true to a concept. However, with respect to the ELR, this may be one of those rare occasions where the actual shipping car looks better than the concept embodiment.
Can you spot the concept vehicle?
GM also deserves credit for moving into the luxury Extended Range Electric Vehicle luxury niche before other large-scale luxury vehicle manufacturers. They are also introducing some new driving affordances unique to this type of vehicle, such as steering wheel-mounted paddles that allow drivers to induce regenerative braking on demand. While we will have to wait and see how the ELR actually performs, on paper things look promising. And if you are a fan of Cadillac's "Art and Science" aesthetics, on the show room floor they are looking great.
BMW has long been breaking performance barriers with each successive model in their M range and the new 1 Series M is no exception. In this nicely choreographed video they take things to a new level which would no doubt make Tanner proud.
For those that could swear that their car had to have been built late on a Friday afternoon or clearly bought a pure lemon, try building an 8070 in a weekend. The latest super car from Lego Group's Technic division includes a free floating differential, a visible 8 cylinder engine with working pistons tied in to the transmission, double wishbone suspension components and various power goodies.
Putting one of these together sans a bunch of spare parts lying around once the job is done is a nice accomplishment. It's also a great empathy exercise to help us realize, even if on a much smaller scale, some of what a day is like for those putting together the things that move us every day. A special thanks goes out to you, the builders of the world.
As evidenced by many new carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts on display at BMW Group's Innovation Day 2011 event, car manufacturers are going to great lengths to reduce the weight of their vehicles. Diet programs include innovative techniques for removing the core of wheels which are traditionally solid metal and replacing them with new, lighter, high-strength materials as seen in BMW's Naturecore wheels. For BMW, no doubt much of what was on display will find its way into their new BMW i Division of vehicles. Fore more visit World Car Fans.
With rolling weekly releases, BMW has invited a rich mix of personalities to discuss the future of mobility. As cited in the first film, with every car having an average of five parking spaces dedicated to it, and considering that everything that is rigid seems to fail while things that can adapt and grow tend to succeed, it is refreshing to see themes like this taken on and folks talking responcibly and optimistically about redesigning the way we live on earth. It is nice also to see the views of those that would like to drive around in bubbles or original Hemi-powered Daytona's all figuring in the mix. Take a look at the first film "The New City" which is viewable now on BMW's Activate the Future site. Thanks to Scott P for the heads up on this one.
Lately, my nephews and I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time in Seacrest County, the fictional land featured in Need For Speed Hot Pursuit. Thankfully, designers of this racing game have foregone obsessing over telemetry and torque curves generated on the world's most famous race tracks. Leaving that to those crafting Grand Turismo 5, NFS creators instead made the solid decision to offer up a dynamic new twist on a childhood favorite: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys.
Adrenaline levels run high as convincing near photo-realism is placed in just the right places. It starts with the diverse and beautifully rendered vistas of Seacrest County, which span coastal roads, open desert highways and snowcapped alpine routes. These stand out as heros of the title alongside the fastest police response units. Creators of the game follow through with a great range of the world's most exciting vehicles. I for one was most happy to see the BMW Z4 sdrive3.5is and the Lamborghini Reventon among the list of beautiful cars one can try their had at.
The game delivers on a few well-honed gaming principles:
1. Support immersion- Convincing visual details in the landscape and vehicle modeling are convincing and invite drivers into the world of Seacrest County.
2. Cause and Effect Loops- Dramatic and sufficiently detailed damage simulation reinforces just enough cause and effect consequences to keep things interesting.
3. Collectibility- An impressive range of vehicles each with their own overview provided by an ecosystem of manufacturers keeps one engaged and moving forward in the game as does the addition of technological enhancements.
While there are surely a number of alternative driving games out there with more realism that would be far better to use as training platforms for your next trip to the Nurburgring, few can match the levels of sheer joy that come along with busting bad guys or racing at high speeds across the deserts of Seacrest county. Thanks goes out those who put quality time into creating the vistas of Seacrest County and Need For Speed Hot Pursuit.
Artist Chris Burden creates a toy freeway with 12,000 cars in a work entitled "Metropolis II". Depending on how you look at it, the work is either a powerful statement about what it feels like to live in Los Angeles or the best gift an eight year old could ever find under...er...make that over the tree.
Happy holidays and here's to more shared commuting rides in 2011.
Cadillac's Urban Luxury Concept which debuted this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show is just the kind of product that will continue to fuel General Motor's emergence from bankruptcy. For those that took part in a fairly strong IPO this week, this is another encouraging sign of solid design thinking taking place at GM these days. With room for four, estimated fuel economy ratings of 56 mpg city/65 mpg highway, and a number of innovative features in store beyond the scissor-style doors, the bivouac says bring this to market ASAP! This is "Art and Science" that's great for both the senses and the planet. See more photos via World Car Fans.
A recent study indicates that people love cars with angry faces. This finding has long been recognized by automotive designers. In fact, shaping the faces of vehicles to make a statement has been an important aspect of the design process for many car companies over the years. With the release of the K1600GT and K1600GTL, BMW is migrating some of the most recognizable "facial" elements from its automobile division to its motorcycle group.
Here's hoping that this new face of motorrad propegates throughout BMW's motorcycle lineup. Not only is it distinctive and instantly associated with the power the brand has had on offer for decades, but it also brings welcomed innovation to the motorcycle industry in the form of the world's first adaptive headlamp for motorycles. Critics might feel this new look is a bit too agressive but when you are moving down a dark and rainy pacific coast highway, one is hard pressed to think of a better way to ward of any potential threats lurking in the darkness.
Shown above is the new facia of the K1600GTL. Illuminating even in full daylight from a design perspective.
Looks like progress continues on BMW's Megacity electric vehicle which is likely to launch under a yet to be named sub-brand some time in 2013. For more details and photos revealing some new manufacturing techniques being explored, including extruded aluminum subframe components and extensive usage of carbon fiber, visit worldcarfans.
Perhaps leveraging lessons gained from the C1 program years ago, BMW is exploring a new variant of a vehicle that mixes the best from the automotive and motorcycle design...something a company like BMW is ideally positioned to do. Let's hope they keep leaning into this concept...so to speak...and move beyond research and development for this new vehicle segment.
BMW looks set to resurrect the C1 vehicle genre with a revised variant that could be electrically powered. While once perhaps ahead of its time, this may well mark the return of a intriguing vehicle form factor give the renewed focus on sustainable transportation solutions, rising fuel prices and urban crowding. We may all finally have the pleasure of seeing one C1 near us soon.
Focus is a key factor in bringing compelling products to market. But when products deliver on functional and emotional levels, doors are opened to more powerful experiences.
Take the launch of the 2009 BMW Z4 for example. BMW once again couples the qualities of luxury and performance that have long been associated with the brand. But for this launch, they also tap into the company's rich history of merging art and vehicle design. this combination allows users to literally paint their own richer picture of the offering.
The "Expression of Joy" theme and event associated with the vehicle's launch elegantly compliments the Freude am Fahren or Sheer Driving Pleasure themes associated with BMW. The nature of the launch provides BMW with a broader canvas upon which to cast the value of their offering, avoiding tiresome comparisons of performance statistics alone. No mundane comparisons of 0-60 mph times here, and cornering capabilities are conveyed in a colorful new way to be sure.
The impact of this launch approach becomes immediately apparent when one compares the BMW Z4 and Audi's A4 iPhone applications that accompanied the launch of each vehicle. Both do a nice job of allowing users to visualize the respective vehicles. The Audi iPhone application explores the "performance angle", allowing users to cleverly tilt the iPhone to navigate an A4 through a slalom course of traffic cones. Ironically, through stressing the performance angle in this way, one finds that the application, though novel to start, is a bit difficult to master. This is not necessarily an impression one wants to leave aspiring A4 drivers with.
By contrast, the BMW Z4 iPhone application allows users to instantly experience a bit of what it must have felt like to have one's hands at the controls of a "300 horse power paint brush". The joy and free form nature of the event translates well through the small device screen. One is unencumbered by the confines of the interface...given literally a blank canvas to work with and, delightfully, to save as well. There is nothing overly grandiose here but the experience does represent a nice instance of design thinking. The content and technical capabilities of the iPhone itself are clearly considered and aligned well with features of the application to maximize emotional impression. Rather than forcing users to master the application, it empowers and frees them to be creative, even if for a brief few moments. Now, that's an impression worth leaving, and downloading for that matter.
Audi's tagline for the A4 launch was "The category changing A4. Progress is beautiful." The A4 is a beautiful vehicle to be sure. But when you see a company like BMW balancing artful expression and design so well, not to mention creating a football field-sized canvas for expression, one is left with the feeling that they are categorically changing the way they dialog with potential customers. Progress is beautiful indeed.
Video is playing a larger role in website design as is evidenced by the recent BMW Concept 5 Gran Turismo website. Hyundai adds further interactivity and multiple perspectives as well as offers a new twist on the 360 degree view of its Genesis Coupe on its Genesis Coupe website.Thanks to Engin for pointing this one out.
BMW provides a grand tour of its Concept 5 Grand Turismo model via its informative film format website. Take a closer look both inside and out at this new category of vehicle. View the Concept 5 Grand Turismo website
Dear GM Execs,
Might I suggest that rather than taking one of your corporate jets to the next congressional hearing meeting in Washington, that you and your colleagues caravan in the following vehicles. Tuck a well thought out plan for how to take advantage of this unique time of opportunity within the automobile industry into the glove box while you're at it. This is a golden moment to show some pride in the craft that takes place within some divisions in your company.
It's also a chance to sever your far too long standing dependency on truck platforms and inefficient V8 technologies. Hold on to your best and brightest and if they are not already working on the right projects, like the vehicles below, get them going on those programs. Surely producing and launching a new fleet of vehicles like the Volt holds the promise of new jobs for many with new skills.
Such an arrival in Washington will help send a message of "We are working towards innovation". This can only help your request for funding that may be needed to bridge to the time when these innovations can start rolling out. Once you've made your case, why not take a commercial airline flight back to Detroit, preferably on coach, and get back to work. Leave the Volt behind in D.C. and allow some of those in congress to drive it for a few days, experiencing what your company is working on.
What better way to stand behind your plan for moving forward than to stand behind your R&D efforts? Not all initiatives will be perfect yet and that is okay. Undoutedley most in congress would be relieved just to see any sincere efforts towards innovation taking place at this point in time.
If the Volt is not ready for that kind of prototyping of the experience in the real world then that's a shame. It should be by now. Kind of like going to Washington with no vision and asking for funding anyway.
For a special, one night only event, BMW will host a "Night of the White Gloves" at its museum that will allow visitors to touch the exhibits on display.
The event is being held in collaboration with the Bavarian Association of the Blind. Those attending will be permitted to touch the 120 exhibits while wearing white gloves provided by their hosts. Visitor will also be able to touch the insides of the cabins, engines and luggage compartments.
Jürgen Steinle of BMW Design will be on hand to expand on the hallmarks of the brand's design heritage, while Ralf Vierlein, head of the Historic Vehicle Collection at BMW Classic, will speak on what makes a BMW a classic.
BMW will also be putting on display for the first time the GINA Concept Car at the event.
"The Night of the White Gloves" will take place on November the 21st at the BMW Museum in Munich.