Yes, it’s true: I’m guilty of a heavy reliance upon automobilia to illustrate my thinking in this blog. But, lest you dismiss me as a dumb motorhead (which is a false stereotype, by the way), let me explain why cars happen to provide so much fodder for my musings:
1) Cars are the Third Space in Our Lives: Home. Work. In our society, when you’re not in one of those two spaces, you’re probably in your car. Automobiles are a huge part of our built environment.
2) Cars are Computers: With a LAN, multiple processors, and complex human interface points, a modern car is the other computer in your life. It may be the only computer you ever love. Or lust after. Granted, I haven’t touched on this subject area at all in this blog, but I will.
3) Car Forms are Difficult to Design Well: Ever wonder why not every car comes out looking as gorgeous as a Ferrari Daytona? Or as honest as a Toyota Sienna? It’s because shaping sheetmetal to trigger positive visceral reactions is about heuristics, the realm of mystery and art. As such, cars make for compelling discussions about aesthetics.
4) Getting Cars to Function Well is Hard: Why does a BMW M3 steer so well while the steering on a Ford Taurus lacks the sophistication of my 1974 Big Wheel? It’s really hard to get the functional aspects of automotive design right, and it’s fun to talk about things when they go right.
5) Automotive Marketing = Cubic $$$$: Creating meaning around the most visible and expensive machines we ever own is a big, competitive business. And it’s one where product goodness drives brand image drives product goodness. As such, cars represent a reflective design challenge of the highest level of difficulty.
6) They’re Familiar and Fun: You want I should gossip about urine analysis machines?