I was lucky enough to work with Ziba Design many years back during a smartphone project I was working on as the lead designer while at Sierra Wireless. The Voq project alone was, in business terms, a colossal failure. For me, it was a failure that provided such a wealth of learning that it is near impossible to fathom my career being where it is now without that project (be that what it may).
The reason I bring up Ziba is that a good chunk of my learning during the failed smartphone project came from getting an outsider-looking-in view of how a world renowned design firm goes about their business. The secret to their success isn’t really a secret. Well, it’s a secret because it seems everybody wants to believe there’s a magic elixir to being a successful company. The reality of it is, they work hard and they do good work. The same goes for every other successful company I’ve been lucky enough to be witness to.
The real reason I bring all of the above up, is because during the many hours we spent on this project we also had many conversations that had nothing to do with the project itself. They design geekery conversations. One such conversation came to mind when I saw this video about a cool new automotive tail light concept by Audi:
One of the design geek conversations we had was about cars. More specifically, we were talking about how the type of car you drive, in conjunction with the type of care you want to drive, speaks a lot about you as a person. The Audi video reminded me of this conversation because I have always pictured myself behind the wheel of an Audi. At the time, I was driving a Nissan Xterra. Now, I am driving a Honda Civic and a Honda Odyssey (mini-van). they speak volumes to what was/is going on in my life while driving each vehicle. I was a DINK (dual-income, no kids) while driving the Xterra. I like(d) to go camping, skiing, and mountain biking. I generally liked playing outside. I now am married with two kids, a mortgage and a small business that rides the sine wave that is a service industry company. You tell me if I’m right or not in how well the vehicles I have driven in the past speak to who I am and my lifestyle at the time of driving.
All car companies do good work. Mercedes, BMW, Honda, etc. are all making great cars and all do their share of concept vehicles. There is something about Audi that has always spoken to me, however. I drive, or have driven a Honda most of my legal driving-age life. But I’ve driven them for their practicality more than how I picture myself in them. I think this is what attracts many designers to the world of automotive design. There is more to the storytelling behind a vehicle. The mystique of a BMW, for example comes from stories like the GINA concept from several years ago:
So, I wonder…what car do you drive and what car do you envision yourself in. Do they tell a story about you?