Category Archives: 04. SURFACING TRENDS

The surface of an object is the manner in which the outermost form boundary is treated. If the form of a sedan is generally 3 box volumes (which almost all sedans are), the surfacing is the outer 6-inches of sculpting, bone-lines, and accelerations; the unique visual elements that differentiate a 3-series from an Accord from a Jetta. Given a basic form, as in the sedan example, different surfacing techniques can create highly differentiated aesthetics, despite the similarity of the underlying form. Becoming surfacing experts is where many automotive stylists find themselves today, creating endless explorations around the outer 6-inches of the automotive object. While some examples of complex surfacing exist (BMW flame surfacing for example), the general surfacing trends point towards clean geometries, softened organics, or dimensional patterns.


Traditionally in design, an object’s form takes priority. Once a form is finalized, then it is subsequently broken up into pieces for production, via parting lines, panels, segments, or assemblies. With the Paneled Surfaces trend, the construction methodology becomes the aesthetic: arrays of discreet panels interlock to define a surface,...

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Up until recently, adorning entire surfaces with subtle repeating textures was only found in specific textile-based industries, such as handbags, footwear, and other fashion accessories. Seeing the luxurious visual properties inherent in a material like diamond-quilted black patent leather (as on the classic Chanel handbag), designers in other industries took...

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Many aesthetic themes represent designers’ attempts to replicate natural organic structures in man-made materials. Bone Lines have been used heavily in Automotive design to bring tension and structure to a car’s sheet metal skin. Ideally, these subtle fading ridges that flow along a surface are actually caused by an underlying...

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There are only so many ways to turn a corner. Although furniture makers have long used intricately-routed edges as decorative motifs, for decades product design was married to the all-mighty Radius. If a designer needed to transition from one surface to another, the only real decision was what size that...

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Although the idea of defining a surface via layers of concentrically sliced planes is not new (such as on topological maps), it was never a stylistic theme until appearing in the Furniture category in the mid-2000’s. Couches created through sliced two-dimensional layers of upholstered cushions gave way to tables constructed...

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There is always an effort to humanize our technology. Technology’s most raw forms typically start with harsh geometries and cold, precise materials as a result of the production process. Much of the function of the design industry as a whole is countering the harshness of tech: softening, inviting, comforting, empowering...

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