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Posts filed under ‘Styling Faux Pas’

Styling Faux Pas: Giant Logos

February 6, 2013 by Matt

Infiniti FX Logo Badge Emblem

This unfortunate trend seems to be especially virulent among Japanese firms, notably Infiniti, Mazda, Lexus and Honda.

It’s hard to grasp how large these logos really are except by viewing them in person. They’re honestly close to saucer-sized.

Honda Odyssey Logo Badge Emblem

There are a couple of theories as to the cause of the trend. One is a recognition of the fact that many Japanese cars share very similar and bland styling and their automakers want to distinguish them from their peers by way of branding instead of rest-of-car design. Also, it could be that there’s a trend toward larger grilles in general, and thus logos must grow in size proportionately.

Lexus CT200h Logo Badge Emblem

Lexus has indisputably been the worst offender lately, having seemingly fallen completely into the “make the logo bigger” upper-management mindset that drives designers, like myself, nuts. Not only that, in contrast to the other automakers’ good sense in reserving the larger logo for, oh, their larger cars, Lexus seems to take great pleasure in slapping the massive emblem on even their entry-level models, like the CT200h shown above. Furthermore, the automaker’s logo isn’t the most attractive, smacking of a corporate focus-group development process; more detailing within the logo itself (think Porsche or Cadillac) might make it work better.

Here’s hoping this tacky trend peters out rapidly.

Image credits:

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting automotive styling missteps. Read the other installments here:

5 Comments on Styling Faux Pas: Giant Logos

Styling Faux Pas: Chrome Noses

January 21, 2013 by Matt

Acura MDX Nose Front Fascia

Today we begin a new series spotlighting ill-conceived design trends, styling decisions that provoked more than their fair share of head scratching and features that turned out just plain ugly. Think of it as a repository for all those little mental “design notes” I file away as I observe the cars around me on my commute.

Designers have a number of “hail marys” they can throw when unable to successfully resolve the lines on a particular area of the car, but perhaps none is so obvious as the classic technique of just loading up the region with chrome.

Ford Fusion Nose Front Fascia

Visualize any of the cars in this article with color-keyed bodywork in place of the chrome. What happens? The fascias of the cars become boring, uninteresting, dull, evidence that the contours and lines—the car’s visual bedrock—weren’t successful enough to stand on their own, without the “enhancement” of the shiny stuff.

VW Jetta Nose Front Fascia

For the record, I have no problem with chrome in general—when applied in a restrained, tasteful manner that supplements the car’s proportions and shapes, rather than becoming the main attraction (or detraction). As it is, with the examples shown, among others, there’s more frosting than cake.

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Styling Faux Pas:
Overly Anthropomorphic Design

July 13, 2011 by Matt

Mazda RX-8

Let’s talk about this. It’s clearly an aesthetic disease that afflicts multiple automakers’ design departments. Some of the best and brightest in our constellation of marques have been seduced by the urge, on occasion, to anthropomophize the front end of their cars. In other words, to design the elements on the front of a car in such a way that it bears an unmistakable resemblance to the anatomy of a human face:

Chrysler Sebring

Some will say, “All cars have a pair of headlights and an emblem in the middle; why aren’t you saying that all cars have ‘eyes’ and a ‘nose’?” I take their point; ultimately, there is something undeniably humanizing about the presence, in particular, of two headlights. We’re all drawn to human-looking “eyes,” in whatever form they appear. In fact, the case could even be made that that’s part of the reason why humans and cars have bonded in such significant ways. We feel a connection to our cars in part because they have certain styling elements that remind us of ourselves, and it helps give them a “personality” we relate to and feel affection for. A negative example of this would be the infamous Tucker sedan of the late ’40s, which broke with tradition and added a third headlight to the center of the fascia:

48 Tucker Sedan

Granted, there were other reasons the Tucker flopped besides the off-putting, “un-human” look of the car’s front. But I do believe the addition of that third “eye” contributed to its icy reception, in that it made the car look more alienating, and less human.

Ferrari 612

So, we’ve established that designing cars that look at least a little human in their features is an accepted—even desirable—practice. That said, certain automakers definitely go overboard. The most egregious offender of late has been, I’m sad to say as a fan of the brand, Mazda. They’ve pulled out all the stops and adopted smiling faces as a design feature across their model range. The most prominent example is probably the Mazda 3:

Mazda 3

I mean, the car is just cartoonishly happy. If I owned one, what if, say, I wasn’t in a happy mood that day? I can’t think of many things more annoying that driving around in a “happy” car when my emotions don’t reflect my car’s “emotional state.” If you’re going to make my car’s face have nearly literal eyes, nose and a mouth, fine, but for heaven’s sake, make it expressionless.

C6 Corvette

Here’s hoping this blight on the automotive design landscape passes quickly, and cars look more like cars again, and less like us.

4 Comments on Styling Faux Pas:
Overly Anthropomorphic Design