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Not just a door handle

As designers, we all appreciate and get passionate about good design, whether it be graphics, a car, a piece of architecture or furniture. As a graphic designer, you know instinctively, irrespective of whether it’s your own work or someone else’s, when you’ve picked up a good piece of print. You find yourself thinking: ‘Wow, what a beautiful piece of design’. You can’t stop looking at it, running your hands over it, scrutinising it – you can’t put it down. And there’s the acid test, of course: does it make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck?

One of my other passions is cars (classic, modern etc), and the same rules still apply. If it’s a great design or styling, you can’t stop looking at it, viewing it from different angles and just appreciating all the little design cues that a good design brings. But, now, it’s a beautiful old Maserati or a long anticipated modern car design just arrived in the showroom that’s making the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

When it comes to great car design, one name in particular stands out – Giorgetto Giugiaro. Over the years, he has produced some fantastic and beautiful classic designs culminating with his being named as Car Designer of the Century in 1999. Small wonder as he is responsible for some of the iconic car designs of our time. In his 40 year plus career, he has given us the Maserati Coupé/Spyder, Maserati Ghibli, Ferrari 250 GT Bertone, Ferrari GG50, the Lotus Esprit S1 – not to mention the DeLorean DMC-12 during his ‘folded paper’ highly angular era of the 70’s. Then there are the everyday cars he’s responsible for – the Volkswagen Scirocco, Volkswagen Golf, Lancia Delta Integrale, Alfa Brera,159 and the Fiat Punto.

His sense of styling is unique. Take the door handles, for instance, on the Alfa 159. They’re not just a functional piece of equipment; they’re made to look good too, mirroring their shapes in the side indicator lights and how the circular front and rear lights are sliced into across the top by the bonnet and tail light clusters, all so beautifully well thought out.

But that’s enough about cars.

As I was trying to say to my young son on his recent work experience with HROC, designers should never just turn off their thoughts at the point where their own design discipline stops. On the contrary, we should always be looking around and pulling inspiration from other sources. We should always be appreciating and absorbing other types and styles of design around us, and learning from them. Because you never know when you might be able to incorporate a little of what you’ve seen, and been touched by, in to your next brief.