Wednesday, July 02, 2014

On learning something new from a car guy

"There are lots of things you can do to make a car memorable, but first you have to ask yourself why you’re doing it. If you have no reason other than it’s a solution, it will look like everybody else’s solution. The big change will come if you want to do a different kind of thing. It’s the courageous people who put value into the system."
Chris Bangle
Disclosure: I'm fascinated by cars. To clarify, I don't bleed oil or worship the V8 engine. I don't cheer whenever a highly modified 1990 Honda Civic with an exhaust system big enough to fit a well-rounded grapefruit buzzes past me. I wouldn't know what to do with a socket wrench if you placed one in my hand, pointed me toward the engine bay and walked me through the steps of removing the oil pan cover. Or whatever that thingie is called.

But...

Cars are the modern embodiment of technology, an ever-present affirmation of who we are as a society and, literally and figuratively, where we're going. They're art and science and inspiration all rolled up into one. So I read about them. Study the subtle nuances that separate one offering from another. Inhale every bit of data from every manufacturer and reviewer out there. Because it fits with my whole technologist's ethos: this stuff can, if we let it, help us lead better lives.

Chris Bangle used to be the chief designer for BMW. His designs, often called flame-surfaced, sparked huge controversy among the faithful. Some called him a radical. Others said he disrespected the brand's design heritage. Still others blamed him for ruining the certain something that made BMWs the so-called ultimate driving machine.

Yet years after he left this high-profile and polarizing role, he continues to influence the industry. And I continue to follow his work. In this case, he may very well be talking about cars, but his words ring true well beyond the automative space. Here's a guy who had the courage to follow his own path, and he ended up taking a lot of heat in the process. But he didn't let that stop him, then or now. Whatever anyone thinks about the cars he penned, it's hard to not be inspired by that sense of individuality.

After encountering more than my fair share of bottom-feeding followers out in the real world of late, I find myself wondering where all the courageous people are. If you've seen anyone who qualifies, say the word.

1 comment:

Michael Manning said...

I love this post, Carmi, because I fell in love with automobiles at the age of 6. I think clay design studios made far more use of the human imagination than CAD does today. So, 190-1970 are my favorite car years that inspire me. I learned something here, as always!