Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Speaking Your Mind in the Automotive Sector

To many of you working outside of the automotive sector, the exchange you see above is probably fairly unremarkable. It’s just two guys discussing their different perspectives on a product.

Within the hallowed halls of automotive design however, what you’ve just witnessed is the equivalent of Lloyd Bentsen saying to Dan Quayle “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy”.

It really is that big a deal.

But you know what, it’s not even Chris Bangle’s damnation by the faintest of praise that really matters here.

It’s simply the fact that we’re seeing Chris -one-time enfant terrible of the automotive design world- go head to head with Jason Castriota who was, before today, the golden child of the sector in many peoples’ eyes in a public forum. They’re having, albeit briefly, a proper debate about Jason’s work.

Open criticism and discourse have always been an underpinning facet of any developed or developing culture (and I’m using the term culture in the broadest possible sense here). It’s the exchanges between peers and between peers and critics, sometimes unpleasant but fundamentally constructive, that give us cause to question our trajectory and properly test our thinking.

But criticism and discourse are the two things that the automotive sector, particularly the design component of it, has always lacked. Sure, there have been small efforts embarked on by individuals, but the industry press has been far too shy to deeply -critically- question how and what car companies are doing.

But today, I hope, this has begun to change. Full credit to Eric and the crew at Car Design News for being on hand to capture this and having the guts to put it live. In a way it’s a shame that Castriota and his new employer Saab should be the first subject of properly public debate. But we had to start a proper conversation somewhere. Long may it continue.

Category: Criticism

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3 Responses

  1. Massimo says:

    i know that this is off topic…..but….

    let’s start saying that i wasn’t the guy the went silence…

    our Australian friends, decided to re-appear and without give an email…

    but Australian always think they are always in the down under….far far away..

    to Drew, Nick and other friends, that may read….here i come again……

    Shall we start from Shanghai Motorshow 2011……….that should be interesting

  2. Massimo says:

    Actually….given the topic of the post:

    Speaking Your Mind in the Automotive Sector

    i was not exactly off topic….

    on the next one i’ll comment on the topic…directly

  3. Massimo says:

    after the obvious 10 minutes to recover from a Sunday morning discover that our friend Drew is alive, and even more importantly writing…i had to wake up Lisa with the great news…

    here’s the direct comment on the post…

    For most of the people that might recall, about “the Rather mysterious” Massimo, you should know that i am never been a Chris Bangle Fan’s.

    Was that right? No.
    Was that wrong? Neither

    I don’t want to go to much in details, but I have better preference in the design world,

    with one small thing, thought, he is a super clever and intelligent guy;
    plus (and is not a small plus), he has design the most beautiful sedan car ever made in the world.

    That equal to the previous BMW 5 Series; and if you ask me was it worth to make all that sort of horrible stuff to arrive to that pure beauty, well the answer is yes.

    Because beauty is PRICELESS.

    So, with these premises, we should know understand who is the guy from the other side of the “ring”.

    Obviously as well, Jason Castriota WAS NOT (and never will be or been) before today, the golden child of the sector of MASSIMO P. (small hint there).

    For Crediting, please recalling a conversation with Eric G. about J, on a beer taken during the Beijing MotorShow 2010.

    It is maybe that we were in the same company during the same time;
    and as an insider you know many story…MAYBE so.

    But you see to SHINE of your own light is much more difficult than to SHINE by reflected light, more often coming from a great team around you.

    And i do not agree with you, Drew;
    WHY it’s a shame to start with Castriota and his new employer Saab.
    Are they not a joke? A disaster in the making?

    And what is the silly car?
    In the stage that the company is, if you want to be credible, JC should have try to beat the more beautiful sedan car ever made; as sedan car should be the CORE business for SAAB.

    But here is the point, the guy wants to SHINE on is OWN; and that is the result.

    A stupid concept, with no meaning, and even more meaningless details (what kind of super powerful engine that car should have had to make sense of that kind of AERO).

    And the explanation, aero car are in the history of SAAB…
    And me, myself silly, that have studied every single car makers history that have thought that an a certain point, EVERYONE has aero in their industry.

    And I do not want to comment too much about posture and body language (please see PRESS PHOTOS), but what on earth was he doing; REPEATING the lesson to the teacher.

    I’ll tell you what; at the end CB has been polite; if he wanted to dig down; after that reply, you could have kill the guy forever.

    That is the difference between outsider rebellious and presumptuous mediocrity.
    And even if i might disagree with the rebellious on most; between the 2 that would always be my side of the ring.

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.