100 years of Movement (Eric Pfister)

Art and design in an automotive world. An image that represents a decade in time, or a simple idea that embodies the infinite power of design. Reaching into the future from far in the past, engineers drew passion and culture from the world around them and displayed it in dynamic showcases. Whether or not artwork found inspiration within the automotive world or inspired it, they shared the beauty and movement of the last century. This gallery will look at the lines, curves, movement and ideas of art paralleled in the automotive industry.

This writing desk by Carlo Zen embodies the design of the era, with long sweeping curves, hand polished wooden faces, flat surfaces contrasting with the sculpted frame. The automotive industry, still very young at the time, was exploding with advancements in manufacturing processes that allowed autos to reach the masses. While assembly line techniques allowed greater production, makers spent more time with intricate design and decor. Like an ornate seat atop a fancy coach, this chair is a great example of early 1900's design.
Similar to this rose paperweight, automobiles in the 20's began to exhibit more luxury design, embellishments and finer interiors. Larger engines and more power under the pedal, these vehicles displayed the power or wealth, and were becoming symbols of status. The polished glass sphere offers a window to gaze into, with a rose floating within the orb to offer inspiration. Automobiles began to offer expanded range, higher top speeds and driving became more of an experience than it had been before.
Further streamlining the industry, America moved headlamps closer or into the main body of the vehicle. Low pressure tires replaced the high pressure tires of the past, offering a softer ride. Curves and streamlined aerodynamics became paramount, with long flowing body lines and hand formed symmetry defining the silhouette. This table lamp by Donald Deskey from the late 20's is an excellent example of design at the time. The curved frame, spherical dome and chrome finish lend to the industrial feel while remaining polished and elegant.
The 40's brought war. Automakers created larger, broader beasts with large engines, wide curves and polished aerodynamics. The engineers continued to improve stream lining and learned more efficient methods. This more modern looking piece by Sheeler depicts a conversation between Sky and Earth. The clean white lines of the industrial power lines against the soft and welcoming sky are akin to the smooth soft tops and candy colored bodies of the 40's automobiles.
Sports cars were a new concept. This Siemens Cardiomat represents the modern theme of mid-century designers. Automakers continued this theme inside the vehicles, along with innovative new features. Air conditioning, power steering, electric windows and a barrage of other comforts found their way into the fancy new vehicles. The bright reds, smooth pastels and excessive chrome helped create a world of art that is sought after today.
A time of great change, struggle and political upheaval, the Sixties saw civil rights reach a boil. Music culture exploded across society. Fashion and design saw great advances. This coat sports a neat profile, free of complication. Sports cars came of age, with performance and exhilaration reaching wild new heights. Practically every industry experienced this design revolution.
Bell-matics were well-engineered and equipped with a mechanical bell alarm. As with most of the clever creations remaining from the Seventies, these watches are highly acclaimed and sought after. Engineers faced a fuel crisis, and a demand for more fuel efficient vehicles. Style and performance gave way to efficiency and reduced environmental impact. The chiseled and efficient design Seiko implemented in this watch is clean and simple. Movement is accurate and finely tuned. Manufacturers designed cleaner emission systems and fuel delivery methods that would develop into the vehicles we drive today.
The eighties saw personal computers become a reality. Vehicle electronics and more advanced technology outlined the concepts that would become the internet of things. The printed instructions across the face of this GRiD Compass shared a serious tone with the executive black shell. This device was a pioneer in a world preceding a mobile revolution. The miniature keys of the Compass are replicas of the stereotypical large keys of the era. The display mimicked the futuristic instrument clusters of edgy new cars. The interiors were filled with more engineered themes. Smaller and lighter vehicles became more affordable and suddenly advanced technology had trickled into the hands of consumers.
Maeta's vase speaks volumes with minimal flair. The facets split the ice cube vase into a variety of shapes. Interlocking parts make a whole chain, even visually appearing as an interlocked chain link. The motor vehicle world took on a chiseled appearance as well, with wedge body lines, sharp corners and an array of body enhancements. Interiors, inspired by prior models success, sought to further innovate with futuristic embellishments and leaner material consumption. Automotive beauty was becoming more efficient while improving horsepower. Engineers and artists alike draw with sharper pencils to create defined facets and crisper details.
Cars of the future have interfaces rather than controls. Integrated computer networks with distributed components through out the vehicle already exist today. But just as mobile devices adopt flat minimalist interfaces, Coupland created an environment that exudes minimalist design. These designs and themes carry over into our vehicles today. With simpler designed interfaces, engineers focus on user experience and aesthetics.
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