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Monthly Design Review - June 2021

This month our focus is on the design, history and significance of cars, often an important part of a production designer's world but rarely acknowledged.


CARS ON FILM: A Celebration of Cars at the Movies (Giles Chapman, 2020)

The book celebrates the history of picture cars through a unique and eclectic collection of rare film stills, collected and conserved by car culture writer Giles Chapman over many decades. Packed with pictorial gems and many forgotten, bizarre or astonishing cinematic moments, the book highlights the film industry's love affair with action vehicles.

Buy the book here.


DETROIT STYLE: Car Design in the Motor City, 1950–2020 (DIA, 2020)

This book accompanies an on-going exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts, highlighting the artistry and influence of Detroit designers working in the car industry between1950 and the present day.

Showcasing 12 coupes and sedans - representing both experimental cars created solely for display and iconic production models for the mass market - the book gives readers a sumptuously illustrated opportunity to discover the ingenuity of influential (and surprisingly little-known) figures in postwar American car design.

Dozens of design drawings and images of studio interiors - along with paintings and sculptures - highlight the creative process and dialogue between the American art world and car culture. These materials, in addition to interviews with influential figures in car design today, bring new insights and spark curiosity about the formative role Detroit designers have played in shaping the automotive world around us, and the ways their work has responded to changing tastes, culture, and technology.

Buy the book here.


CLEWORTH: an ARTFULLlife (Harold Cleworth, 2015)

This book features the work of award-winning automotive artist Harold Cleworth. From illustrating the elegant curves of the multimillion-dollar 1936 Bugatti Atlantic, to perfectly depicting the brilliance of the head-turning red of Ferraris past and present, Cleworth brings an incredible photo-like quality to his work that not only captures the beauty of a car, but elevates it. Cleworth is one of the world's most sought-after car artists: commissioned by car companies to paint originals of their newest models, and by celebrities and private collectors to create portraits of their beloved automobiles.


Buy the book here.



This vast collection of 500 car advertisements from across eight decades, frequently overlooked in design and automotive histories, offers a lucid mirror image of tastes, consumerism, and buying habits since the dawn of the automobile.

From the most obscure (Tucker, Ajax, Columbia) to the most iconic (General Motors, Ford, Chrysler) the visual history brings together some of the best illustration and graphic design of the 20th century.

Buy the book here.


IMAGINE: Automobile Concept Art From the 1930s to the 1980s (Patrick Kelley, 2020)

Over decades of car manufacturing in the USA many thousands of concept drawings of futuristic models were lost or purposely destroyed by the manufacturers to minimize copying. The images shown in this book have been gathered over the last 15 years as rare survivors, illustrating the work of the men and woman who drew and designed the cars from their early days at art school and during their employment with the ‘Big Three’ automobile manufacturers: GM, Chrysler and Ford.

The book is a tender tribute to the artists’ contributions and imagination, transporting us back to a time in US commercial history when the wildest dreams were encouraged and there was nothing but the open road ahead.

Buy the book here.



Ever since the automobile was made accessible to the masses, car dealerships have been special places where desires, sweaty palms and that new-car smell are distilled into an intoxicating elixir of freedom and ownership. From Art Deco showrooms of the '30s to modern glass-walled superstores, this nostalgic road trip revisits the architecture, marketing, and business practices that have become inextricably associated with auto retailers.

A fascinating text accompanies an equally compelling collection of archival photography recalling past and present car dealer phenomena like new model previews and grand openings (i.e. soaped showroom windows, veiled cars, search lights), promotions and giveaways (banners, literature, buttons, pens, pedal cars, ashtrays and anything else dealers could use to help make a sale), business practices from early century animal trade-ins to today's refreshing Saturn-style service, customer relations and service centers, and nontraditional automotive outlets like Sears-Roebuck and hardware stores. Sidebars highlight innovative dealerships and those that have been in business for decades.

Buy the book here.


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