Posted by: futurevehicles | September 9, 2009

Cash rules everything around me.

I discovered a crazy little website a few weeks ago that has everything that a car nut could possibly want. www.tmrtuned.com.au covers everything from new car releases to concept cars to modified cars of the most epic proportions. If you dont have time to check it out- then take a look at what this site has to offer:

YES- That is a Lamborghini Gallardo and YES that is a twin turbo kit sticking out that bulbous rear end. Built by Underground Racing in the States, this Lambo goes beyond what could be considered a conventional street car. It runs a 9.1 on the quarter mile and it could probably be heard from space.

This is just a little reminder of what money can get you these days. Don’t forget to check www.tmrtuned.com.au . It is a hidden gem.

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 23, 2009

Internet must-reads part two.

As a follow on from my original post about the treasures to be found on the internet, I thought I might as well post another handful of links to keep you nutters busy for another week.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3012/is_12_183/ai_111617000/

This article is a clever little story of how designers change the looks of their cars to suit geographical contexts. European cars look entirely different to American cars and so on and so on- so it is fascinating to get a deeper understanding of why cars are designed a certain way.

http://thesis2009.blogspot.com/2008/11/materials-wear-beausage-and-wabi-sabi.html

This neat little blog post talks about how objects become more beautiful over time as they are used. They show wear, imperfections and how materials can age over time. This all goes back to the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi- an aesthetic principle which speaks of the transience and beauty of objects that are decaying or aged.

http://www.carbodydesign.com/articles/2005-04-13-chassis-history/2005-04-13-chassis-history.php

This page details the history of the chassis- the backbone of the car. Read how the humble car began life as a wooden carriage with an engine strapped to it and how it evolved in to the space-age designs that are becoming so prevalent on many of todays cars.

http://www.carbodydesign.com/tutorials/hand-drawing-sketching-tutorials.php

Well- if you weren’t drooling after the last 3 then this final link will have you slobbering all over your keyboard. This page has several tutorials relating to hand sketching, presentation techniques and digital rendering. It is a must read for anyone who is among the living.

I’m sure there will be a part 3 to this thing. Sight.

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 23, 2009

Design masturbation and it’s downfalls.

OOOH, Did i just say ‘masturbation’ on a student blog? How compulsive of me. But seriously, design masturbation, or mental masturbation as it is often known, is a serious problem amongst every level of designer- from the student to the high-end design professional.

Right now you are probably sitting back and imagining an issue of playboy with a picture of an Alvar Aalto stool as the centrefold instead of a buxom blonde- but don’t let your initial impressions get the better of you. Design masturbation does not involve the act of masturbating in any way.

Hmmm, that word starts to get really annoying after a while.

No, design masturbation involves something much more serious. It is the process whereby a designer goes around and around in circles; endlessly procrastinating in an attempt to delay the inevitable design finalisation stage. I’ll admit it here and now; I have design masturbated until I turned blue in the face. I would sit there for hour after hour with a pen in my hand and a sketchbook in front of me trying to justify my ideas to myself.

It is a disgusting feeling and it leaves your project looking worse off than it did before this whole mess started. Looking back, I think thats why I didnt take some of my projects as far as I could have done. I would get an idea and stick with it, and I would fight to the death to ensure that this idea would survive. Its a really dangerous approach.

If you are not willing to open your mind to other ideas then what hope do you have of being a success in the design industry? It is so easy to get caught up in your own little world- and yet often the only result of that is a shit project or failure. I’ve never failed, but I HAVE had shit projects.

Somehow, this year, I have managed to somewhat break the design masturbation cycle; particularly in this final semester. I am a Blue Whale and I am filtering all these iddy-biddy little ideas through my massive gills. It is an exciting feeling and much more productive than being self-centered about my design. I now have the will to actively seek out new ideas and information and not treat them as a threat to my project.

Like a 1970′s flower child, you need to open your mind to new ways of thinking. Then and only then will you have a truly rich project.

Below is an article I found on Design Sojourn. It explains the entire process of mental masturbation and I found it particularly relevant to students. Enter if you dare- it is quite the reality check.

http://www.designsojourn.com/how-to-avoid-mental-masturbation/

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 23, 2009

War of the worlds! Well, not so much a war…..

……..More of an unexpected collaboration between two paradoxical design fields. This stage of my project is where i get in to all of the nitty gritty details- which i hate doing by the way- so often i go and seek the knowledge of others to point me in the right direction. ‘Others’ almost often refers to a lecturer at my uni, Simon. He’s a pretty clued in guy on all things mechanical, and he has this ability to give you so much while saying very little.

So, Simon and I were sitting at Soumitri’s messy desk trying to figure how the suspension/rear wheel assembly works on my car. For those who don’t know, the car has a hydrogen electric motor mounted in a BIG rear wheel at the back of the car. What concerned me the most is that I had never taken the time to resolve HOW this thing would actually work. Would the wheel join on to the body somehow? Would i have to sacrifice form for function? It was a real sticking point with the car- until Simon dragged up his collection of Motorcycle images.

Right now I was thinking “Okay, I get it, Simon is losing his marbles. He’s spent too long at RMIT and now he’s delusional”. However, as he started to scroll through the thousands of images of race bikes, drag bikes, concept bikes, top speed bikes, MX bikes, and kooky custom bikes I began to understand that there was a method in his madness.

Who would of thought that you could combine motorcycle design and car design? Sure, there have been cars that look like motorcycles and there have been motorcycles that try SO hard to look like cars but I find that combining two almost opposite methodologies of suspension geometry and drivetrain design to be a truly fascinating thing.

Time will tell how the end result will turn out, but so far it has been decided that the car will have a single swingarm at the rear. The reason I chose a single swingarm is because I want people to be able to see my ability to design a nice rim. The rim after all is a defining feature of ANY car.

This idea is in its early developmental stages, but I will keep everyone posted as usual. In the meantime, enjoy some automotive porn…………………

www.nelsonracingengines.com – When i win the lotto, i’m going to see these guys. The most spastic cars on the planet.

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 23, 2009

Hello…….is anybody out there?

Well, based on the statistics bar in my wordpress admin, my blog is getting about 40-50 views a day. I’m pretty pleased about that- but one thing concerns me. Aren’t blogs supposed to be a mode of COMMUNICATION? I can waffle and ramble all I want but unless people waffle and ramble back then I dont know if its real people that are reading my blog or Russian/Ethiopian internet spammers.

If anyone has anything to say, please do not hesitate to speak up. Otherwise, we are defeating the purpose of this blog.

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 17, 2009

Internet must-reads.

My ‘favorites’ tab in Internet explorer and Firefox is becoming a traffic jam- so much so that I have resorted to starting up a ‘Delicious’ account- yet another hassle and another website that knows my name.

I thought i’d post up a few interesting articles, essays, spiels, blogs etc. etc. that I have found in my travels. Some are fairly easy to find, while others require some digging and lateral thinking.

http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Design/Gartman/D_Casestudy/D_Casestudy1.htm

Among other wonders on this website, this fantastic case study documents how the motor vehicle evolved from a thing of mass-produced efficiency to a personal statement of wealth and style during the pioneering years of the car. The study compares the ideologies of people like Henry Ford, who wanted to make cars as quickly and cheaply as possible, to people like Alfred Sloan, a GM of Chevrolet who wanted to make cars of better quality and with more appealing looks. It is a ripper of a read and so are all the other essays on that site.

http://www.europeancarweb.com/features/0312ec_future_bmw_design/index.html

This article documents the transition that BMW has had in the recent years from a company known for its ‘sameness’, to a company renowned for challenging convention. Several leading automotive and industrial designers are interviewed in the article, and all have interesting things to say about the future design direction for BMW.

http://www.core77.com/blog/featured_items/a_periodic_table_of_form_the_secret_language_of_surface_and_meaning_in_product_design_by_gray_holland_12752.asp

Hmmm……..WOW. This article featured on www.core77.com is about as detailed analysis of form as one could ask for. It explains the notion of form in automotive design and product design in ways that I hadn’t really thought of before. Put simply, THIS IS A MUST READ.

http://www.carbodydesign.com/archive/2008/05/29-mazda-nagare-design-language/

Another MUST read for anyone with even a remote interest in life- this lengthy article explains the design process behind the Mazda Nagare concept car. Reading this article gives you a better understanding of how the industry works and how Mazda remains such a leading brand.

There are many more to come- let me just gather my resources.

Peace

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 17, 2009

2009: A Leon Odyssey.

November 16th, 2009- A date that signifies my entry in to unchartered territory. That is the day that I finish my studies at RMIT and graduate in to something called ‘the Real World’. Metaphorically speaking, i’ve spent the past 4 years of my life in hibernation. Aside from the holiday breaks, I really have not seen much of the outside world other than the same walk to and from the train station every day. So what will happen when my obligations as a student pack up and disappear?

To be honest, I think i might cry for the first few days. Being a student means routine, responsibility and productivity- and despite the long hours, lack of sleep and the excessive blood, sweat and tears; I think that I might actually miss going to school.

November 16 is an important date because i know full well that the day after I will most likely be sitting on my arse in front of a computer looking for a job- ANY job. The prospects of employment in the design industry in this country are bleak to say the least; atleast thats what all of us students have been hearing from our lecturers. Regardless of what our lecturers say, it is safe to assume that employment in almost every industry is about as feasible as North Korea entering a team in the NFL.

Thats what scares me the most: the lack of security. At University, you’ve got your obligations, responsibilities and your place. As long as you pay the money, you are accepted and educated to the best of the school’s abilities. There is no immediate threat of being out of a job, no boss threatening to fire you if you dont do your work, and no monotony. You feel at home.

Leaving my den after four years of hibernation will prove to be a most challenging task- because there are hundreds of other design graduates in this state alone looking to do the same. I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of going in to the automotive industry, as I have come to accept that my skills simply are not applicable there.

So where do I sit?

If I cant get my foot in the door somewhere, then what hope do I have of been happy and successful? I could just do what everyone else does and apply for every design-related job that comes along, but i’m not sure that my skills are up to the level that the industry requires. I could take a chance and just wing it- but that would be cheating and i’d like to avoid it like I avoid swine flu.

I guess all one can do at this stage is hope for the best. I can finish these remaining 12 weeks with the knowledge that I have given it my all, and that I may end up graduating with honours. Whether that piece of paper saying that I graduated will result in a job for me is another matter entirely.

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 16, 2009

Luddite: any opponent of technological progress.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been labelled a Luddite or one of its derivatives on six separate occasions. While some may think of this as a very negative label to put on someone; I am actually quite proud of myself. It pleases me to think that people view me as a designer who goes against the grain. After all, isnt that what all designers want?

I am a bit of an old-schooler. Scratch that, I am one HELL of an old-schooler. I avoid technology whenever possible; not because I hate it, but because I am of the belief that the technology is only as good as the person using it.

If you can’t draw in the first place, how is a $3500 Wacom tablet going to make you any better? Sure, you can keep on erasing or undoing the lines until you get the perfect one- but that is cheating in my books. Sitting down in front of a REAL sketchbook, pencil in hand, teaches you to be as accurate and quick as possible with every stroke that you make on the paper. If that makes me a Luddite- then I guess I am a Luddite: AND LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

Your work stands out when you are a luddite. While everyone is getting sucked in to the allure of the digital age with their Photoshops, Wacom Tablets and CAD packages- there stands big old me in front of his work with a proud smile on his face.

 The marks I got at the end of last semester were a reflection of the impact that this type of ‘classic’ car design development work can have- because while everyone was doing really flashy powerpoint presentations, I took a different approach and presented an entire semesters work in 2 LARGE posters. I remember my lecturer saying “You took a risk with those posters, but it payed off”.

The same anti-technology approach will most likely be evident in my final product/presentation too. I have chosen to model my car the old fashioned way and use car styling clay- and now that I have enlisted the help of some of the best in the business, I don’t see why my model couldn’t be of the same or a better standard than something that has spent hours in a CNC mill and is worth hundreds/thousands of dollars.

In closing- I dont have a problem with technology. In fact, I am a video-game NUT and I love some of the design/art work around that simply would not have been possible without todays myriad of technologies made available to us these days. However, and I say this in as much seriousness as possible, I REFUSE to let technology dictate the outcome of my work.
It has happened to me in the past, and I was left feeling no sense of accomplishment or pride- and so I have made a deal with myself to never let it happen again.

Any pro-techies out there should feel free to comment or send me a trojan.

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 16, 2009

Letting it go: My attempts to get past the conceptual stage

Throughout my entire four years in this course, one reoccuring thing has always made its presence felt in every single one of my projects: My inability to remove myself from the conceptual stage of a project.

I feel incredibly content and comfortable during the concept stage of a project- it is a place where no idea is rejected and I have absolute control over everything. It is a splendid sensation that i find really hard to remove myself from. I compare it to never wanting a small kitten to grow up to a big, loathsome meatloaf of a cat. You want the kitten to keep making those small ‘meeeiiiiwwwww’ noises at the top of it’s little lungs. You want it to walk awkwardly and trip over its little paws so everyone in the family can laugh and go ‘AAWWWWWWW’. Sadly, the kitty will one day have to mature and you will have to spend a good portion of your life tending to a lion that is about as temperamental as Naomi Campbell after a few lines of coke.

I want this project to stay in the kitten-stage, but i now understand that it simply wont happen. BIG decisions have to be made and i will have to acknowledge the fact that my project will be snorting lines of coke at a rate quicker than that of Britney Spears.

The main thing that is holding me back from becoming the ‘realist’ is that i find my original dream slowly slipping away from me as the design process continues. I had this incredible vision at the end of last semester and now i am becoming increasingly worried that my dream will never come to fruition- at least not in the way i had intended it to.

Changes will have to be made to my original design intention- i get that- but how does a designer hold on to that dream or vision that motivated them so much in the beginning?

I guess we will find out in a few short weeks.

Posted by: futurevehicles | August 14, 2009

Spreading the love

Just a quick reminder to visit the blogs of my fellow car design classmates: Charles, Jacky, Andrew and Edwin the mighty.

We are a small but passionate team who will shock the automotive world- i guarantee it.

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