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Will Car Design Lose Its Variety Someday?

The fact that we're moving toward a future where cars are driving themselves without somebody behind the wheel has a few implications for all of us, but perhaps more so for car designers. Samuel Chuffart, an automotive designer at Icona brings up the parallel of car design with that of the design of phones. Before cellphones were bulky, chunky, and had various features on the phone's exterior that was part of its design. Phones were made in different shapes and sizes which made it such that different phone models looked different from one another and each fit the tastes of different people. Now, phone design has all but become one rectangular screen. The only thing that differentiates one phone from another are probably the hardware and other features like the camera, security, voice recognition or even a retinal scanner. Chuffart believes that car design might be headed in the same direction and might prove its undoing.

(Image credit: Icona)


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I suppose there already is standardization in industrial design. And for good reasons! For example, hot water knob is to the left of the faucet, cold water to the right. Brake pedal in a car is to the left, gas pedal to the right. Turn signals are to the left of the steering column, with up being right and down being left. Manual gear shift is uniform, etc etc.
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This is classic Taoism. Humans can never separate individualism and collectivism, and every attempt will always fail. We try to "standardize" things for pragmatic reasons, but our creativity as individuals always breaks it. Much like the standardization of car design or phones, people have always tried to herd people together in workspaces. Hypnotize you into thinking you're all equal - you're all the same. The reality is, a person born Year of the Monkey and Year of the Tiger are natural enemies. That's not even factoring in genetics, IQ, culture, language barriers, etc.
So simply put: no. Nothing in the universe ever succumbs to standardization. It's not the nature of reality. The flowers always grow through the concrete eventually.
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Phone design converged to rectangular slabs because providing a somewhat uniform form factor (screen aspact ratio and feature standards) allows easier development of 3rd party apps. If vehicle manufactures start encouraging 3rd party plugins (which is unlikely) then they may also converge to a standard set of design and feature sets in certain sections. In any case this is certainly a good thing for consumers since standardization brings down costs, and the ones most hurt are likely manufactures (since it turns cars into commodities) and designers (for obvious reasons).
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