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RETROFUTURISM: THE CAR DESIGN OF J MAYS

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Jun 16, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

RETROFUTURISM: THE CAR DESIGN OF J MAYS

By ROY NAKANO

First came the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles' (MOCA's) comprehensive exhibition of the work of American designer J Mays. Now comes the coffee table publication.

The exhibit explored J Mays' multidisciplinary approach to design, which draws inspiration from allied design fields. "Mays' ability to think across the spectrum of design and, in particular his knowledge of architecture, fashion, and industrial design, is what sets him apart from other automotive designers," says Brooke Hodge, MOCA curator of architecture and design, and the organizer of the exhibition as well as the book. Mays is currently vice president of design at Ford Motor Company, and previously worked for Volkswagen-Audi and BMW. His design work includes the concept for the Volkswagen New Beetle; the Audi AVUS, which inspired the design direction of many Audi cars, including the TT; and the redesigned Ford Thunderbird.

Mays approaches design holistically, thinking not only of the design of the automobile itself, but also the branding and identity that will accompany the final product. His concept of "retrofuturism" underlies his belief that the innovation of the past should be studied and drawn upon to inform the future. A focus of the exhibit was duets of cars to illustrate Mays's design thinking - the 1949 Ford the new Ford Forty-Nine concept car (unveiled at the 2001 North American International Auto Show in Detroit), and the 1957 Thunderbird and its 2002 redesigned contemporary counterpart, among others. The book captures this duality as well. The exhibition also explored the creative process behind the design of individual elements of a car, such as door handles, seats, grilles, fabrics, and textiles, and positioned them relative to fashion, architecture, and industrial design. The book does this with equal success. Although a book cannot match the tactile quality of the actual exhibit, the book surpasses the exhibit in substance and in story-telling ability. Unlike many coffee table books, this one has abundant text to accompany the gorgeous color and black-and-white photographs.

MOCA's Web site is located at www.moca-la.org

Introduction and Interview by Brooke Hodge Essay by C. Edson Armi Original photography by Dennis Keeley Published by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in association with Universe Publishing A division of Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. 300 Park Avenue South, New York, New Work 10010 Distributed to the U.S. trade by St. Martin's Press, New Work. $35.00 96 Pages ISBN 0-7893-0822-3

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