The Automobile as Art

Whether designing garages, buildings, clothes or even watches; designers will draw inspiration from many sources and in many ways. In the case of Ralph Lauren, he will invent characters and circumstances around which he produces his work. This notion was first brought to my attention many years ago as a student of design but not until reading about Ralph Lauren, did this philosophy come back to me. He will create a world around these characters and through them, create his collections.

What has this to do with Garage Mahal? Reading the following quote may go some way to explaining.

"I have always been inspired by the dream of American-families in the country, weathered trucks and farmhouses; sailing of the coast of Maine; following dirt roads in an old wood-panelled station wagon ; a convertible filled with young college kids sporting crew cuts and sweat shirts and frayed sneakers.  I am constantly drawing inspiration from everything I see - the places I travel, the people I know and the movies I see. Sometimes it takes just one thing to excite a whole sensibility about a world. One photograph of a look, one old jacket, and then I build it." Ralph Lauren

Take for instance the Streamliner, Garage Mahal's first project; my inspiration was drawn from the wonderful rounded shoulders and strong art deco influence of the 1950s Kelvinator refrigerator. A working machine purchased by the owner but, like the garage, sorely in need of attention. And so it is with any commission taken on by Garage Mahal, the inspiration for the design may come about as a result of a few conversations with the client or simply the things I see when walking through their front door.

So why Ralph Lauren?  Other than his design genius and business sense, he owns an assemblage of exotic cars that is considered to be amongst the finest in the world?

For three months in 2011, 17 of Ralph Lauren's collection, representing some of the most prestigious sports car manufacturers in the world were on display to the public. With this collection, Ralph Lauren shows that the automobile is a major art form created by the industry's biggest names: Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. With cars possessed of such appeal, even just as static art let alone the sensuality of their sound, smell and motion, where would one begin in designing a fitting space for their display? Perhaps Paris' Musée des Arts Décoratifs, a starting point of the Art Deco movement.

An art show? An industrial design exhibition? Or Pebble Beach Concours indoors? For me, it is all three. To set your one and only classic or your entire collection of cars amidst the clutter of a disorganised space tells a story but to create an environment to house your beloved, to best show its gracefulness or the power of its masculinity, means you are serious and engaged with the whole concept of the automobile as art, it has the potential to tell the whole story.

Watch this video, judge for yourself.