Balancing the old and new, the ArtCenter Design Invitational took place on Sunday, October 23, on the ArtCenter campus with the rolling hills of Pasadena in the background.
By Garrett Rowlan
A rebranding of the Car Classic of previous years, the event marked the first such gathering after the Covid-19 lockdown. Partially because of this, the number of cars displayed was smaller, 60. Previously they displayed around 100.
The wow factor, however, was higher. The event blended the expertise of the alumni with the enthusiasm of the invited high school students, who designed, gawked, and otherwise comported themselves in the mid-day sunshine.
Of course, in keeping with the Car Classic tradition, there were plenty of vintage autos with chrome and bucket seats and so forth, but the main thrust was the new cars that Dave Kunz, of ABC, and car guru Ed Justice introduced from an elevated podium. These included cars from Lucid Motors, BYD motors, Rivian Automotive, Tesla’s Cyber Truck, and even DIY designs, such as Brian Booth’s Voo Doo car, which he built from the ground up, an effort lasting 25 years and only concluding shortly before the Invitational.
Later there were symposiums. At the first, Women in Automotive Design, female panelists spoke of an inherent intimidation to be overcome when 80 percent of their co-workers were male.
The second panel featured designer Harald Belker, who designed automobiles for movies like Batman, the George Clooney version (“Best Batmobile,” he quipped, “worst movie.”) and Minority Report, where he had the distinction of being chewed out by Steven Spielberg for a pivoting automobile seat that didn’t pivot. He also worked with ArtCenter graduate and director Michael Bay.
A third panel, anchored by Dave Kunz, asked young designers how they broke into the field.
There was sunshine, food, coffee, and for those of a mind to grab free stuff, an entire van stuffed with back issues of car design magazines, celebrating once-innovative styles now considered standard.
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