Design, engineering and 'ugly' BMWs

I like interesting bits of engineering. Particularly those that feel so well designed they verge on a work of art. I don't think it’s too controversial to believe that art and engineering are closely linked.

Art is difficult to define. A good starting point is the observation that much of what we call art involves activities with no specific goal in mind. Of course painters and musicians may have a notion of what they want to create, but why they are doing it defies any simple, logical explanation.

The creative process is useful and often undervalued. The divergent thinking required is not something you can just switch on. We are all susceptible to stifling creative thinking in the modern world and consequently missing out on its benefits.

What does this have to do with cars? Well I believe it’s particularly relevant in the discussion of modern car design. There is currently much furore about design trends like big gaping grills and angry angular features on new BMWs. There is a sense that many new designs incorporated into modern cars lack true creative flair and to an extent I agree.

But to focus on how to fix a specific design or which features of that design make it 'bad' isn't going to solve the overall problem. In order to design better things, we need to study and understand more about the creative process and the world around us that it reflects. This is something I don't know much about, but I do recognise its importance and want to learn more.

The interface between art, design and engineering interests me. So I’m starting a side project that will hopefully help me discover something about this topic along the way.

I've always been fascinated by engineering drawings - particularly the useful hand-drawn exploded diagrams and cutaways you find in old Haynes manuals. So drawing mechanical designs is what I'm going to research as a first step and just see where it takes me.

I'll still be writing about cars and working on them here. My Alfa GTV will continue to feature (more so now the Rover is off to auction). But there may also be the occasional tangent.

Look there's one right there!

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Don’t forget to check out my back catalogue of posts about cars and what I’ve been up to with ‘Alf’ the 1999 Alfa GTV!