Well, folks, the Project Design finalists and I had a blast in Detroit visiting with our Chevy friends, and we’re now on the plane heading home to good ol’ STL. If you’ve been following @ALIVEMagSTL or #ProjectDesign12 on Twitter and Instagram today, you’ve been seeing a few snapshots from our adventures—here are a few more for your viewing pleasure. We weren’t able to use our own cameras in the Design Center (top-secret stuff going on there!), but we did get to work with some of GM’s on-staff photographers to gather some great photos and video interviews with the Project Design designers and the Chevy designers we met there—so keep an eye out for more of the good stuff over the next week or so!
Fun fact: the GM Technical Center campus, including GM Design Center, was designed by the same architect who made the Gateway Arch, Eero Saarinen.
The big idea for the day was to meet some of Chevy’s design team and chat with them about the connection between fashion design and vehicle design. Until today, I had no idea how big of a role fashion actually plays in inspiring everything from the colors to the interiors to the forms in vehicle design. We met Michelle Killem, Rebecca Waldmier and Brett Goliff of the Color and Trim team, and they showed us some inspiration boards used for actual Chevy vehicles that were filled with images of fashion apparel, accessories, interior design and architecture. Some of the PD designers remarked that these collections looked much like the mood boards they use when concepting a design or collection. The Chevy designers talked us through how, just like fashion designers, they spend a lot of time figuring out who the person they’re designing for is—how do they dress, what do they like to do, where do they live, what motivates them, etc. The idea is that the things we choose to surround ourselves with are the perfect indicator of what we’re likely to want in a vehicle.
The big difference between fashion design and vehicle design is that fashion designers typically look a season or two ahead at most. As you might guess, designing and manufacturing a car takes a lot longer than a jacket—so, vehicle designers are charged with the task of figuring out what will be in vogue three to five years from now. So, for example, Killem says that in terms of exterior colors, pink hues are having a moment right now as far as popularity goes—which means the Color and Trim designers are done with it and have moved on to what’s next (purple is the new pink, rumor has it). So, this difference in timelines means that when vehicle designers look to the runways, they’re scouting future trends, not current ones. The life cycle of a trend, Waldmier says, is fashion first, then interior design, then vehicles. So, when they see a trend on the runway they keep an eye out for it to show up in technology or home furnishings (more expensive things that you don’t typically replace after a year or two—that’s a signal that it’s here to stay.
I could go on and on about what I learned from the visit, but you’re much better off coming out to Project Design on Tuesday, Oct. 9 to see for yourself the pieces that each designer created based on what they took away from the experience. As an added challenge, some of them will also be incorporating some pink or girl-power elements in support of the American Cancer Society and breast cancer awareness month. It actually came up in the discussion today, and the Chevy team offered some advice on incorporating the feel of another brand without overwhelming your own. I din’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what these talented ladies come up with!