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New Petersen Automotive Museum exhibit presents a new take on automotive design

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Lo-Res Car Sculpture by Rem D Koolhaas / United Nude. Photos courtesy Rem D Koolhaas / United Nude.

“Modern cars all look alike,” is a complaint we often hear from readers, but what if a pair of designers, successful in their respective non-automotive fields, reimagined transportation in their own styles, devoid of any regulations or restrictions? “Disruptors,” a new exhibit opening on June 29 at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California, answers this question by featuring the works of fashion designer Rem D Koolhaas (founder and creative director of the United Nude brand) and industrial designer Joey Ruitter.

Perhaps best-known for his line of architecture-influenced women’s shoes, Koolhaas — the nephew of Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas – has also done work for high-end furniture manufacturer Herman Miller and other consumer brands, contributing to everything from park benches to watercraft. His contribution to Disruptors is a work entitled Lo-Res Car Sculture.

At first glance, Koolhaas’ rolling art reminds us of a Bertone concept car, namely the Alfa Romeo Carabo of 1968, or perhaps the Lancia Stratos Zero that debuted in 1970. The wedge shape is there, though Koolhaas’ work lacks a certain level of detail – on purpose. Lo-Res Car Sculpture is the designer’s interpretation of a Lamborghini Countach, rendered in three dimensions, but (as the name implies), in low-resolution.

Koolhaas’ automotive design, which debuted in 2016, has been well-received worldwide. Giorgetto Giugiaro, the man behind such cars as the first-generation Lotus Esprit, the DMC DeLorean and the Volkswagen Scirocco, reportedly loved the Lo-Res Car Sculpture, and Koolhaas believes the time is right for a new take on automotive design. As Classic Driver learned in a January 2018 interview, Koolhaas has plans to start his own automotive brand, though any final product will certainly be less dramatic than the Lo-Res Car Sculpture.

Moto Undone, by Joey Ruitter. Remaining images courtesy Joey Ruitter.

Ruitter is no stranger to transportation design, having penned his minimalist take on skateboards, bicycles, motorcycles, automobiles and even snow machines. Moto Undone, an electric motorcycle designed specifically for urban-dwellers, appeared in an earlier Petersen exhibit on battery-powered custom bikes. Resembling a delivery box more than an actual motorcycle, the exercise demonstrated exactly how much of a conventional design can be stripped away while still retaining functionality.

Consumer Car.

Consumer Car, another of Rutter’s designs, brings to mind Le Monstre, the 1950 Cadillac Series 61 rebodied by Briggs Cunningham for less wind resistance at high speeds, an important consideration when racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That’s not to call it a copy, since Consumer Car is even more elemental (and, we’d imagine, less aerodynamic), serving up only what’s needed to get down the road – in dry weather, anyway.

Reboot Buggy (door open in top photo).

And then there’s Ruitter’s Reboot Buggy, an off-roader with the barest of bodywork, likely there for the sole purpose of protecting the occupants. Snoped, a tracked monoski with bodywork reminiscent of Moto Undone, applies the same basic-but-functional aesthetic to the world of snowsports, answering the question “what could be stripped away from a snowmobile while still maintaining a level of performance?”

Snoped.

It isn’t likely that Ruitter’s designs will be hitting showrooms soon, but that’s not the purpose of his work. Instead, his designs inspire the question, “how much is enough,” both in terms of styling and functionality.

Per Terry Karges, the executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum,

‘Disruptors’ is a critical analysis on how two designers with backgrounds in fashion, architecture and industrial design have come to perceive the automobile. This exhibit is unlike any other we’ve presented in the past because the content challenges common perceptions of vehicles, and the presentation is appropriately unconventional in its aesthetic.

The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, June 29, and runs through May 15, 2020. Limited tickets are available for the Friday night opening reception, which takes place on June 28 and features a moderated discussion with Rem D Koolhaas and Joey Ruitter, as well as complimentary appetizers and wine. To purchase tickets, visit Petersen.org/Disruptors-Reception.