Not Robert Cumberford

viacelli design Logo

A failed car designer tries to make sense of a flat design world.

SketchBook Pro goes mobile

I’ve been playing with it for months on my iPhone, but now it’s gone public – Autodesk’s Sketchbook Mobile is coming to the app store. A fantastic addition to the digital designer’s workflow, this is the drawing app you’ve been waiting for if you’re a professional designer or digital artist.

Check out Carl Alviani’s article about it on Core77, and I’ll be putting up my impressions soon.

Autodesk releases me

Autodesk sent out a press release yesterday about all the love it’s getting in the Mac community, and guess what? They quoted me. As “a creator of iconic technical illustrations”

Nice. Thanks Autodesk.

Things get ugly at Car magazine

Car magazine has long been one of my most cherished and revered sources of car news, photographic inspiration and cutting-edge design. Published in the UK, I have been spending my hard-earned cash on the import-priced glossy loveliness for almost 20 years now. Not anymore. Car has gone and done the unthinkable—they’ve dumbed down the design to blend in, rather than stand out, from the crowd.

Just a few years removed from one of the most stunning and gorgeous magazine redesigns I’ve ever seen, they’ve basically reverted to clichéd tacky Euro auto-weekly style. Busy covers, red box around the logo, smaller size, cheaper paper and nasty typography have replaced the lusciously high-end look of the past two years, bringing a tear to my eye. They’ve even gone and done the same thing to their website, one of the most intricately laid out sites around.
Is it the new depression’s fault? Maybe. But the price hasn’t gone down with the quality, so I somehow think that if this is a cost-cutting measure it’s well on the road to massively backfiring. Will readers forgive and forget? Maybe, but longtime lovers and subscribers like me probably won’t, and the last thing a high-end monthly publication needs now is losing subscribers. When you start stating that you the “World’s best car magazine” right in the header, it’s a sure sign that you’re not anymore.

Tim Pollard, the editor of the magazine, has been campaigning hard for the new look, saying that it’s simply “in response to reader feedback.” Judging by the hundreds of negative comments on the website I’d say they may have asked the wrong readers, and it seems they’ll be losing some lifers with the change. Maybe he’s ok with that, or maybe it was forced on him by the mag’s new owners, but either way, it’s a sad day when a design beacon sells its soul for sales. A sign of the times I suppose, but I won’t be renewing my subscription.

Bring back the design edge Mr. Pollard, and I’ll gladly drop the £65 to re-up my subscription and put Car back on my coffee table where it belongs.

Gorgeous previous redesign of Car

Gorgeous previous redesign of Car

Newly redesigned Car magazine

Newly redesigned Car magazine

I’m not bitter. Really.

Just jealous.

One of my former classmates at Art Center, Karim Habib, just jumped ship from BMW to Mercedes to “oversee” their Advanced Studio in Stuttgart. Karim’s a great guy (or was anyway, might be a d-bag after years with Chris Bangle), but it hurts me every time I see someone I was in class with (and better than?) have such success in the car design world. I screwed up bigga time and this punctuates it.

Link to the story on Autoblog

Oh well.

Karim Habib is headed to Mercedes

The Truth About Logos

A commendable car blog called The Truth About Cars has asked its readership to submit logo designs for the site. Typically, I would consider this an affront to designers (and maybe it is), but I have a lot of respect for them and what they stand for (completely unbiased and brutally honest auto reviews and news), so, despite my better judgment, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring and design a little something for them as well. I can use all the publicity I can get for my designs.

Maybe if I win their contest they’ll buy my Christmas Cards next year to send out.

The Truth About Cars logo proposal

The Truth About Cars logo proposal

And I have trouble convincing clients to spend $500.

It seems that the new and not-quite-mediocre pepsi redesign cost almost as much as the stimulus package. This is exactly the kind of crap that gives designers a bad name.

Click here to read the article.

You can go blogging again.

I’m going to start this blog up again and see if anyone notices. Doubt it, but then again, yelling into the void helps you release stress just as well as yelling at your wife, without the consequences.

I’ll be adding current projects, twits, insights and anything else that comes to mind in shorter, more concise posts.

New wordpress dashboard.

Thank God WordPress has finally brought their dashboard into the 21st century. Using the old one was one of the main reasons I wasn’t blogging.

The democratization of car buying?

I’ve always said that you can tell a lot about a person by the car they drive. Whether you like it or not, even the blandest car makes a statement about who you are and how you live. Very rarely would you be surprised by a slick salesman in a Honda Civic or a hippy in a BMW M3. But these days, gas prices seem to have changed that, forcing rednecks into Geo Metros and Soccer Moms out of their SUV high-horses and into more practical station wagons (gasp!) and reasonable sedans. But is this a permanent change, or a temporary reaction?

I’m not sure, but it occurred to me this morning that Europe has always been a more democratic car buying environment. Small streets, a near total lack of parking, insane taxes on vehicles, lack of credit, and, of course, high fuel prices have meant that for decades Europeans drove what as practical above what was cool. Only showoffs drove BMWs and SUVs. Only rich people drove Porsches. Everybody else, well, they drove what was cheap and local. The French have been buying Peugeot and Renault hatches, the Germans their Golfs and Opels, and the Italians their crappier than thou FIATs for generations. I’ve seen businessmen in Pandas and well-to-do families piling out of a Renault Scenic and never batted an eye. In the US, it’s so rare, that pulling up to a family picnic can be a nerve-racking experience if you feel like you’re “under-driving” (what will Aunt Jane think of me driving an old Saab? Will Uncle Mark think I’ve lost my job when he see the ’99 Passat wagon?).

But now it’s all changed. I think that these gas prices are likely to stay over $4/gallon, so SUVs will slowly go away in favor of smaller cars permanently. The credit crunch will likely pass though, so as upmarket fuel-efficient cars start filtering in to our protectionist little country (I’m looking at you BMW, where’s my efficient dynamics, huh?), will the level playing field tilt again to towards the wealthy? Will my neighbors put away the Civics in favor of Explorers? Is this just another malaise era that creates a generation of little fuel-efficient cars only to be completely forgotten when things get better again?

One way or another, it’s going to be interesting. I can’t instantly judge people by the car they drive anymore. That’s no fun, but probably not a bad thing. I’ll be keeping an eye out though. Will the market change to fit the cars, or will the cars change to fit the market? Only the automakers can decide that.

Re-inventón coachbuilding?

At first glance it looks like a Murcielago that’s been made-up by NBC to be KITT on the new Knight Rider series (they’re really doing that). But it’s not. So maybe some tacky one-off designed for the Sultan of Brunei? Close. It’s the Reventón, Lamborghini’s newest trick to separate attention seeking rich men from their cash – and lots of it.

Lamborghini Reventón

To be built in only 20 examples (unless, of course, they get greedy), this car is essentially a $1.5 million dollar answer to the question nobody was asking – “What would happen if Lamborghini built a special edition Murcielago based on the design of a 1970s stealth fighter plane?” That answer has been decisive to say the least.

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