In 1920 F Scott Fitzgerald took what turned out to be a rather rocky road trip from Connecticut to Alabama in a used Marmon so Zelda could rekindle with her childhood in the south. His upbeat account of the eight day adventure were later published in book form as The Cruise of the Rolling Junk. Zelda was less generous with the journey writing simply: ‘the joys of motoring are more-or-less fictional’. When building his 1924 Type 35, Ettore Bugatti modelled the engine first in wood to make sure the proportions were right for the car. In 1933 the racing driver Francis Turner was killed while testing Buckminster Fuller’s crazy-shaped three-wheeled Dymaxion since the architect and inventor didn’t bother too much with mastering aerodynamics and proper engineering so his prototype lifted at speed making it impossible to steer or brake as Turner was to tragically discover. The Fiat Lingotto Turin facility and its cinematic pista were the work of a naval architect by the name of Giacomo Matté-Trucco who was inspired by the theories of the Italian Futurists.
These are just some of the myriad of topics gathered from the car-besotted century by Stephen Bayley in his latest book The Age of Combustion – an edited selection of his Octane column, The Aesthete. This is a hugely engaging book and Bayley is a natural raconteur. His writing is erudite but also light and fun – forever weaving his immense pool of knowledge on architecture and design and cinema and literature and life into multiple narratives. Or to quote the industrial designer J Mays: ‘No one articulates the Theatre of Design like Stephen Bayley.’
Discussions on smart cities tend to miss the cultural side – the various social landscapes, which is why these designs by Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility students – asked to imagine a taxi in a speculative megacity of 2040 – are worth looking into. A couple offer some sophisticated critical design thinking too with ideas that may have seemed impossible dreams before the pandemic made all things impossible possible. Take a closer look here
The motor car has shaped our modern world and is about to define its future. In its 130 years, this object of desire and destruction has been critical in enforming our lives – from the design of our cities and our relation to the countryside, to how we work, live and communicate with one another. In its golden age, the motor car conjured up such strong visceral feelings, yet it remains a disturbing symbol of our current climate emergency.
This is the premise behind the V&A’s latest exhibition ‘Cars: accelerating the modern world‘. Together with the accompanying book, the show is a fascinating overview of the motor car’s complex past, and acts as a useful tool for navigating the second stage of the automobile. What’s apparent is that, just like the beginnings of the motor car revolution, the future clean, autonomous, shared drive will need greater cooperation and coordination with urban and country planning. It needs to be a global effort, and performed well and without profit at its very core, it can be an exciting future.Read my full story here.
In the age of mass-production, fast fashion, hyper-consumption, and the growing awareness of the environmental damage caused by all this careless consumption, we should rethink our approach to how we shop and of ownership. And in the auto context, it is one thing to subscribe to electrification, but surely true sustainability is about maintaining the value of objects already in existence … to reuse, upcycle, reimagine – breathe new life into old objects.
This is what Lunaz intends to do. This new marque restores classic cars and converts them with electric powertrains. Its aim is to make the most beautiful and celebrated cars in history ready for the future, playing into the above. But equally it explores luxury as rarity, and the preservation of beauty to be relevant and kind to the wider world. Take a closer look
The ecological car revolution has been more of a slow evolution. Talk of hydrogen fuel cell, hybrid electrics, pure EVs has been going on for a long time and it has taken some strict legislation to finally push carmakers to react and commit. So it is exciting to finally see and drive more progressive products like this Polestar 1.
This modest car isn’t quite fully sustainable, but the company that’s making it will be producing a family of exciting and progressive cars, and more excitingly the methodology of making and the whole brand ethos is ecological. The new electric car company from Volvo wants to do things differently – it intends to be the progressive choice, the intellectual purchase, and part of this narrative is formed by a clear and concise, and heavily directed design theme.