𝙕𝙡𝙂𝙕𝘼𝙂 𝟘𝟙𝟛: Design Bites
⟿ Speeding tickets in NZ, milquetoast “design”, the joy of hillclimbs.
⚑ Le sigh.
Which I can say, because I live here in French-speaking Quebec, Canada, buckled up for six more months of winter with nothing to do but complain.
Erm. And now…
BEFORE YOU TUNE ME OUT because you’ve seen this image several times before—most recently at The Autopian—consider you haven’t seen it in the correct context or with the intended meaning.
The image? Stolen. The “design” commentary foisted on these milquetoast crossover SUVs? Manufactured. And its original intent? Lost.
Originally posted in 2015 as part of a book titled “Art of the Living Dead” by writer & creator Adrian Hanft, the image wasn’t a critique on how design is dead, but rather, how it and the industrial complex surrounding it are functioning quite well indeed.
Lacing together how customers, marketers, designers, concept cars, and aerodynamics conspire to promote blandness (“The wind tunnel’s usefulness has been perverted to legitimize the destruction of progress.”), Adrian’s essay / book chapter is easy to dismiss at first glance as just another crossover rant but is in fact tough medicine for all to swallow.
Even for me: had I not taken an extra 10 minutes to do research and then reach out to Adrian, this story could just as easily have been another about how DESIGN IS DEAD!1
Design is very much alive; it’s designed to sell:
“As competitive forces reach equilibrium, car companies don’t present an assortment of products equally spaced across the spectrum. Instead, they set up shop right next-door to the most lucrative location. Brand experts insist that success comes from promoting your unique attributes, but in practice differentiation is less profitable than consolidation.”
Perfectly, just as I was going to rebut The Autopian’s piece, Adrian posted an update on LinkedIn that I feel is so important to include here.
As a fellow independent creator, this is where the story stings: we’re only talking about this because someone else stole Adrian’s work, to the tune of 25 million impressions.
I’ve linked his work below. If you’ve been following my work for a while, his approach and themes may even seem similar—a talented independent creator creating on his own terms for his hard-earned audience. That’s the first punch, straight to the gut.
The second punch is, for me, one that knocked me over and left me winded:
“No, the thing that stings is the massive applause for an idea that runs counter to one of my core beliefs. Millions of people seem to unanimously agree that design is dead. As someone who has devoted his life to design, that hurts my heart.”
☞ Driving conformity (This is the updated essay -M)
see also :: The Zombie-mobile • Adrian Hanft (2015 original article)
BOOKS by Adrian Hanft :: User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia (2020) :: Art of the Living Dead (2014)
More for members below on this important topic…
1 To be exclaimed in the tone of, “GOD IS DEAD!” as performed in under 2 minutes in one of my favourite sketches by the Kids in the Hall.
!! CORRECTION 07/12/22: How did I miss the Jalopnik article by Bob Sorokanich, Every Car Looks Like This Thanks to a Gigantic Regulatory Loophole, where it was also noted: “Most of the people who stumble across his image and re-post it to Twitter do so without Adrian’s permission, and they clearly haven’t read his article, which delves into brand identity and consumer habits with far more nuance than any nonsense you’ll find on Twitter.” Well, I clearly missed the solid Jalopnik article. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
About the fahckts…
I do not want speedster.news to become a watchdog, however, too often when corrections are needed it’s difficult to track down and have the original source changed and/or a publication update its piece.
Then, the correction isn’t promoted in the same way as the original article—I’m passionate about this point because it’s a clear instance where the media willfully disinforms the public over time not with malice, but as a function of how it operates.
At best, earlier misinformation gets grouted over with a few SEO-friendly Top 10 lists and celebrity editorials…
Kudos to Drew Magary and Road & Track for being the only publication I could find, in an article from 2021, who correctly credited Adrian’s work and iterated from it for the piece Why Does Every New Car Look Like Every Other New Car?
It’s ZIGZAG, after all—time to lighten the mood.
With a (real) letter sent in 2004 by the Auckland, New Zealand resident Justin Lee, the Letters Live production masterfully selected Taika Waititi to read it aloud in 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall.
Speeding tickets are part of car culture, and hearing the audience roar at Lee’s petrolhead-laced correspondence makes me wonder how timeless and durable these laughs will be. We’re 18 years from the original incident—when will a “driver’s license” and “speeding ticket” no longer have broad cultural reach?
—headphone users, watch the volume: it’s a full-bore performance. ;)
Small cars are fun cars. Whether or not you agree with miniature vehicles being used as tourmobiles around Munich, Germany (and nearby locations), someone’s probably having a blast right now while dressed up in an appropriately goofy costume and chugging through busy streets in a cute li’l hot rod.
And that someone is not you or I. Top speed? Apparently up to 88 km/h (54 mph)…
–Thanks to reader Sam L. for sending this in!
beyond this point
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