Mustang Mach-E shaped by midcentury modern Detroit architecture, Eames
The architectural design that shaped Motor City also played a key role in the creation of the Ford Mustang Mach-E, according to the designer.
“I didn’t realize it until I moved to Detroit. There’s so much mid-century modern design. This is the epicenter,” said Josh Greiner, an industrial designer who submitted the Mach-E interior theme selected by Ford .
“Charles and Ray Eames and Florence Knoll went to Cranbrook together and then changed the world with their modern architecture,” he said.
The legacy of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills includes, among its famous guest artists, Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto – global visionaries for their bare and elegant furniture and home design from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s.
However, the depth of the talent goes even deeper and continues to influence the Mach-E.
Architect Eliel Saarinen, who designed the Cranbrook campus after his international career in Finland, watched his son grow up teaching in Cranbrook. Eero Saarinen later eclipsed his father and designed the General Motors Tech Center, JFK Airport and St. Louis Gateway Arch, as well as spectacular furniture.
Knoll, whose modern furniture company is now thriving, was friends with Harry Bertoia, a Cranbrook student and faculty member known for his popular wire-based furniture designs. She introduced Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s elegant modern furniture to the American market.
Her work is shown in art museums, including the Eames Lounge Chair, the Seranin Womb Chair and the Tulip Chair, as well as the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs.
Vintage homes are still highly valued, and mid-century modern furniture has resurfaced – sofas, chairs, lamps, tables.
Now comes the Mach-E.
From chairs to cars
The SUV introduces the all-electric portfolio of the 117-year-old company.
“Many of us are inspired by classic design. We are trying to create more timeless design and less trend design,” said Greiner. “Trendy design is exciting right now, but it doesn’t age very well.”
Famous vehicles like the Mustang and Ford Bronco have to stand the test of time and still be valued. He marveled at the houses all over Detroit, especially the Mies van der Rohe collection in Lafayette Park.
“It looks like a big, beautiful modern glass building,” said Greiner, who had moved from Providence, Rhode Island. “It’s 50 years old and looks brand new. I have a lot of friends who live in Lafayette Park and I’m amazed at how clean and simple and beautiful it is. This is rooted in the younger generation of interior designers who like cleanliness and.” Want modernity and less excitement. “
Greiner bought a loft in the old Columbia Motors car factory downtown.
Now, Wright homes are known for their low roofs, overhanging eaves, and open floor plans. A sense of openness is a key element in feeling Mach-E.
In the vehicle
A major Mach-E priority is a commitment to clean and simple modern piping, Greiner said. “I took inspiration from the houses of Frank Lloyd Wright, his prairie-style movement where all of his roofs were cantilevered. And they always resisted gravity – I felt super light and almost impossible. I tried like this many to involve. ” floating elements in the interior as possible so that it feels light and airy. “
Greiner, a trained industrial designer from the Cleveland Institute of Art, said the armrest on the Mach-E’s console was completely floating.
“There is a feeling of space and lightness,” he said. “The top of the dash is the same method of splitting the dash in half – the top half appears to be floating.”
The touchscreen in the middle of the SUV also feels like it is floating, said Greiner and pointed to the qualities of Mies van der Rohe.
“His design with curtain walls and glass walls let in light rather than structural support,” explained Greiner. “Everything floats.”
Pointing out the iconic Womb Chair, designed by Saarinen in 1948, he said he used “simple, honest material” to dictate the design and texture of the fabric soundbar on the Mach-E dashboard.
Back to the Future
In the 1960s and 1970s, car designers were often inspired by architects, said Maeva Ribas, manager of design research and strategy at The Carlab, a Southern California-based automotive product planning advisory group.
She recently described a meeting with a high-ranking global car designer who is responsible for European projects and who spoke about looking for classic architects again.
“It’s very minimal,” said Ribas. “We’re just seeing this trend return.”
American automobiles have tended to mirror pop culture throughout history.
“In the jet age, the post-war 1950s boom, you had this very futuristic design,” said Jonathan Klinger, vice president of Hagerty in Traverse City, the world’s largest insurer of collector’s vehicles. “The classic example of Detroit would be the 1959 Cadillac. The taillights were similar to the jet’s afterburners. Many of the interiors had a very airplane-like, jet-inspired feel to it.”
Later, the fabrics and bright colors reflected the era – three-tone seat fabrics, atomic gold stars, and vinyl, he said.
Now there is a new playbook with a fully electric vehicle.
“Developing an all-electric car from scratch requires incredible freedom as the vehicle has neither an engine nor a transmission, which creates challenges like that little hump on the floor in the back seat that the exhaust pipes or driveshaft run on” said Klinger.
Powertrain elements typically require an internal combustion engine up front, but anything that is omitted when a car uses electricity instead of gasoline.
Joel Stone, chief curator of the Detroit Historical Society, said the city has been a center for architectural design for a century, though few recognize the breadth of influence.
“Over time, classicism was reflected in the Cadillac, Packard and Lincoln. Then the cars became leaner and more imaginative,” said Stone. “Some of the prototypes are absolute spaceships and not very practical, but from these … designers learned how to bend metal and figure out how to handle windshields and mold windshields and plastics.”
Andrew Blauvelt, director of the Cranbrook Art Museum, said the academy was known as the place where the mid-century modern movement in America was born. It’s often associated with optimism after World War II, the Mad Men era, and the end of fascism. But it started at Cranbrook Studios in the 1930s.
“People like the Eameses, Saarinen, Bertoia, Knoll worked on curves and softer shapes and more humanistic design,” said Blauvelt. “There’s geometric abstraction – with perfect triangles, circles, and rectangles from places like the German Bauhaus – and then there’s organic modern design that’s more fluid. It’s another philosophy that comes from Scandinavia, where nature is the source of inspiration Cranbrook is transplanting that seed in America. “
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