Volkswagen Beetle and a brief note on automotive design.
Yesterday I began reading the great book “Designing for Emotion” by the awesome Aarron Walter (from the “A Book Apart” Series, if you’re an interface designer/developer, buy it today, it’s that good) and found an interesting example on design personality where Aarron explained the popularity of the VW Beetle.
I’ll share this bit with you:
“The Volkswagen Beetle, released in 1938 and produced
until 2003, is the best selling design in automotive history. Its
distinctly human design contributed to its success.
Conceived as the “People’s Car,” the anthropomorphized design makes it more than a car for the people: it’s a car that is a person. The round headlights denote eyes while its scoopshapedhood smiles at us, personifying the baby-face bias.
Though originally designed for aerodynamics not personality,
the Beetle’s “face” conveys a perpetually hopeful and fun attitude
that made it easy for generations to connect with, despite
dramatic cultural changes over seven decades.
That smile that greets its driver reflects emotion and establishes
a specific kind of relationship. It’s hard not to return a
smile even if it’s coming from an object. Around that simple
interaction we’ve constructed an emotional persona for
this car (…)”
Aarron is no car designer, but he explains exactly what’s wrong with car design today. With digital interfaces and overall product design walking towards the user’s needs (which is great), car design on the other hand is becoming something for the masses, kitsch, if you may. Every new car wants to be just like the iPhone, and the “baby-face bias” is getting a bit more lost each day. Most modern cars have no persona today, and you know what? It’s our fault.
(if you reblog without this block of text, I’ll command all pidgeons to do their business on your bonnet.)