24th Annual EyesOn Design shows auto design’s past, present and future at Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan on Lake St. Clair on Father’s Day 2011 was the place to be if you wanted to experience the evolution of an automobile’s design. For certain, the 24th EyesOn Design (EOD), Automotive Design Exhibition, a benefit for the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology is not your average car show.
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In the famous words of Alfred Sloan, “It is the design of the car that can very well determine its success in the marketplace.”

It wasn’t always that way, though; especially in the beginning of the automobile. Fact is, during the early days, there were no designers; no stylists. Few even recognized the automobile as a sculptural exercise. The skin of the automobile was viewed merely as a covering to keep out the rain.

For that very reason, the EyesOn Design (EOD), Automotive Design Exhibition, is in a class by itself among all the car shows. It does not even focus on automotive preservation at all, although, there are plenty of preserved cars on the grounds. The EOD car show focuses directly on the design or style of the automobile.

Take a moment to think about how automotive design has evolved over the years and will continue to evolve, especially as we electrify the automobile. For the record, though, early EVs (electric vehicles) existed alongside of the works of Henry Ford and others.

Point is, the propulsion method is immaterial. And the honorary chairman this year, Ken Lingenfelter, understands and appreciates the true blend of engineering and industrial design more then most.

Design and Style

Among the automotive designers or stylists that work within studios, design is still a pure art form coupled with functionality, and it is that functionality that separates the term, in many minds, from styling, which is pure art. Always distinct from sculptors, automotive design is the world of art and industrial design.

Few realize, though, that each generation of designers has a unique set of challenges. Engineering constraints known as criteria are always present, but the government mandates have made those constraints even tighter. Then there is the packaging constraints of fit, form and function, plus, safety, drive train, ease of construction and assembly to meet.

That is why this EyesOn Design Car Show is unique among the multitude of car shows in the area. It’s a concentrated look at automotive design, pure and simple.

Honors

This weekend also celebrated the brilliant career of Walter Maria de‘Silva, the Head of Design Group at Volkwagen. He worked at Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Audi, not to mention being Head of the Industrial Design and Automobiles Area at the Instituto Idea in Turin. As such, the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology awarded him the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Keen Eyes

Attendees were encouraged to observe, not only the lines of each car, bearing in mind the time frame in which each car was designed and built but the legal and economic parameters of the time. Regardless of the size, shape and configuration all of us need to appreciate the art of the automobile, as much as we appreciate the technology and the horsepower.

With its emphasis on automotive design, past present and future, EyesOn Design is the only show of its kind in the world.

It was great seeing Jon Albert , a judge at the show. I worked with him on a few projects at Saturn and GM in the Design Studio. Now let me share with you in still pics, videos and multiple slideshows what I saw. It may take a few articles and photo books to cover everything.

[Photos and videos by Frank Sherosky]

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About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via authorfrank.com. He may be contacted here by email: [email protected]
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Additional Reading:
Visually-impaired inspectors show skills on Media Day for EyesOn Design
Media Day Preview a success for 2011 EyesOn Design
Audi A6 wins EyesOn Design Award for Best Production at 2011 NAIAS
Future vision belongs to students at 2011 Detroit Auto Show
Watching the Detroit Auto Show with design engineering eyes
Porsche 918 RSR wins EyesOn Design Best Concept at 2011 NAIAS


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