When it comes to posting about cars on TFIB, I tend to like ‘em weird. The last car I wrote about was Renault’s Twin’Z Concept car, which looks like some kind of a light up sea creature. Now I’m writing about the ME.WE, an electric car concept designed by Jean-Marie Massaud for Toyota.
I tend not to post about cars very often, but when I do they’re usually pretty forward thinking and a bit out there. More cars on the road are kind of boring, though I do think we’re starting to see some interesting shapes from Nissan and Kia. Renault (who now owns a 43% in Nissan, funny enough) could also be added to that list. The vehicle above is the Renault Twin’Z concept, designed by Ross Lovegrove as a part of Renault’s Cycle of Life project.
Lovegrove, a veteran of the design industry, is known for his biologically inspired work (his work in lighting is a good example of this), creating objects that feel… natural. He’s taken this distinct style and brought it to the Twin’Z and I think it’s totally brilliant.
How important is atmosphere in a restaurant? It’s pretty important for most folks, but designers and architects may pay special attention to the quality of the details: the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, the acoustics, the type on the menu– stuff like that. So how do you evaluate design when you’re eating from a food truck? We may get a few clues from the Del Popolo food truck. Instead of an immersive environment, we have a mobile fragment that collapses the work of an entire restaurant kitchen into the space of a rental truck.
It’s a hefty truck, though, weighting some fourteen tons as it climbs up and brakes down the hills of San Francisco. Part of the weight comes from the enormous, wood-burning oven bolted into the back of the repurposed shipping container. The oven is nicely framed by the black steel windows that unfold, opening the side of the truck to customers and the surroundings. And just like in a restaurant, the details here are telling: the wood for the oven, the black steel, and the type stuck on the window create an atmosphere around the truck even as its surroundings change.
Earlier this week New York based designer Daniel Blackman relaunched his portfolio with new work and it’s looking great. One of my favorite projects that he posted was a series of posters he created for Rivendell Bicycle Works, a bike shop in Walnut Creek. The posters have two functions: To inform customers about the different styles of bikes they have as well as providing them with some sweet swag to take home if they do buy a bike.
I love these posters because of their bold imagery and their use of type. The imagery definitely does a great job of describing the bikes, like the Sam Hillborne which is a tough country bike, so of course you could venture into space and explore. I’d totally put one of these on my wall, wouldn’t you?
Not satisfied with winning Motor Trend’s Car of the Year 2013, Tesla is already on the move with their next innovation. Dubbed the Model X, this is Tesla’s take on the SUV, but it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Like the Model S and the Roadster before it the Model X is fully electric yet can go from 0 to 60 MPH in less than 5 seconds.
The most distinctive design feature has to be the Falcon Wing doors which are pretty remarkable. Unlike gull wing doors which simply open upward, Falcon Wings bend while they open up, allowing them to open in the most narrow of spaces. While some might view this as gimmick the doors allow occupants to step into the car, rather than climb in. It’s the extra space that it allows which make the doors valuable.
You can see a bit more of the Model X in the video below. If you’re interested it’s definitely cool to see how it actually moves and seeing how people interact with the vehicle. I’m looking forward to seeing these on the road.
Wait. No mention of the astonishing inflection point the Model S represents — that this is the first COTY winner in the 64-year history of the award not powered by an internal combustion engine? Sure, the Tesla’s electric powertrain delivers the driving characteristics and packaging solutions that make the Model S stand out against many of its internal combustion engine peers. But it’s only a part of the story. At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you happen to plug in to refuel.
What makes me happy is that clearly progress is winning. We’re talking about a $50k electric vehicle made by a company which is essentially a start-up in the auto industry outdoing all of the old dinosaurs. It’s exactly what the aut industry needs, a swift kick in the nuts. How the old dinosaurs deal with this sort of information is what will decide if they sink or swim. Hopefully the auto industry isn’t so archaic that it can’t learn to make some smart choices. Here’s to cars that make sense in our modern world!
The other night I was complaining about the price of gas (it’s gone up nearly 80 cents in a matter of days here in Los Angeles) but also about the lack of vehicles that run on alternative vehicles. The automobile hasn’t evolved as nearly as much as it should have. Could you imagine waiting 100+ years for the iPhone to improve? The only real jump forward in the last 20 years was in 1997 when Toyota released the Prius, the first hybrid electric vehicle.
In 2003 though there was the emergence of Tesla Motors, a car company designing high-end vehicles that run on a lithium ion battery. Bradley Berman recently did a story for New York Times profiling the new Model S, a Sedan that adds to their line-up. The story confirms that Tesla is making the cars of the future now, we can only hope other manufacturers can catch up quickly.
The Bauhaus-stark interior is dominated by a 17-inch touch screen — imagine a jumbo iPad embedded in the dashboard — giving digital control of nearly every automotive function. The interface is brilliant, but potentially spellbinding. Lighting, climate and music selection are intuitive. It let me do things as diverse as raising the chassis when pulling into my uneven driveway to switching the steering feel from comfortable to sporty.
There’s a high-definition backup camera, and full Web browsing is available — even when the car is in motion, a capability that safety regulators may one day frown upon. A Google-style search on the navigation screen, for addresses or a keyword, pulls up results that can be directly converted into turn-by-turn guidance. It is an ingenious improvement in automotive navigation.
Another innovation is Tesla’s ability to wirelessly push new features or software updates to cars already on the road. For instance, Tesla said it would soon be downloading a change on how much or how little the car creeps forward from a standstill.
Of course a vehicle like this comes at a price. The base model starts at $49,900 and can get to over $100k. The technology and features that the Model S have go above and beyond what most cars do, and the limited run (only 3,000 will be made) don’t help either. I hope that one day we’ll see more indie car companies pop up and start filling in the gaps in the market. The automotive industry needs some innovation desperately, and Tesla is only the first step.
Being an American I’m not intimately familiar with the Eurostar, the high-speed train that connects London to Paris, but when I look at this rethink by Christopher Jenner I can tell he did something fantastic. As you can see in these photos the seats don’t appear to be bad, but they’re certainly not luxurious. That’s where Jenner’s idea comes in, elevating the ordinary to fantastic and creating a first class experience unlike any out there.
The carriage finished in hardwood, brushed Brass and Carbon fibre illustrates a hybrid of the golden age and the new. Individual accommodation in single seats provides essential armrest services ( air, power, connection ) and retractable privacy, while large screen windows open a view to the World flying by.
I think what Jenner has achieved is an openness and a lightness that the current version is lacking. Fluorescent lights, generally, are never a great idea, though Jenner doesn’t offer up what his alternative might be. While this might be an unrealistic vision, imagine if Eurostar incorporated even 20% of this design? Even that could be a startling change.