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      12-25-2006, 06:01 PM   #1
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What's Up With Japanese Automobile Design? Toyota Concept Hints at next Supra

Toyota's Hybrid Sports Bid.
Hints of Next Supra?

Debuts at 2007 NAIAS



Toyota at the Detroit auto show will unveil the FT-HS Hybrid Sports Concept — a two-door sports coupe that could provide clues to the next Supra.
Toyota says the 400 horsepower hybrid would do zero to 60 mph in around four seconds, and cost somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000.

Power comes from a 3.5 liter V6 coupled with the electric motor used in the GS 450h. The car seats four and has a 50:50 weight balance.


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      12-26-2006, 10:51 AM   #2
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If those #'s (hp, 0-60 and price) are true, that will be one hot seller. Though I don't care much for that design.
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      12-26-2006, 11:04 AM   #3
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Yeah, the #'s do look good Harold.


I'm not fond of the design either. Too Pontiac Firebird-ish...overwrought anime Boundary Creature.
My real problem with it is the interpretation - this is much too fan-boy rather than serious sports car.
It's as if they designed something totally off the mark intentionally aimed at adolescent rather than youthful.


But I kind of dig the rear-view...spoiler/taillight thingie.
Haven't seen that before....the old Mazda RX-7 had the tailight spanning the edge of the trunk-lid..but this takes it to a "real" multi-function.
I do like the proposed incorporation of the electric motor. No matter how much we resist it, I think hybrid's are coming.
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      12-27-2006, 11:39 PM   #4
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I'm not sure if this is the actual car- but it seems as if the Supra is available in Japan.
Interesting the difference between Japanese tastes and what might be coming to N/A.
Or I should say what is designed for the Japanese market and what is thought to be tailored for the US market.
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      12-28-2006, 09:36 PM   #5
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Possible Stylistic Antecedents?


What strikes me as incongruous is the fact that the
"transformer" Supra Concept debuts in the North American market.
Wouldn't it be more logical that this would synch with Japanese culture?
There's gotta be an explanation for the aesthetic shift between the two cultures and what the preferences are-



Ferrari Zagato 575 GTZ
While the Japanese Supra bears some resemblance to classic Ferrari's-
it's definitely retro themed...something the U.S. seems to understand and like.
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      12-30-2006, 11:16 AM   #6
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Mazda’s Nagare Concept with Mazda's new Chief of Design, Laurens van den Acker

"Mazda design needs to make another big step," said Laurens van den Acker, Mazda Motor Corp.'s general manager of design.
This year, van den Acker took the top design spot from Moray Callum, who now heads Ford's passenger car design division.
Does that mean styling with more Japanese influence?
Contrary to what Nissan design boss Shiro Nakamura believes, van den Acker doesn't think there is a distinctive Japanese design.

Instead, van den Acker wants to accentuate the sporty nature of the Mazda vehicles, regardless of country of origin.
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      12-30-2006, 12:47 PM   #7
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Little Boy > Antecedents and Manifestations of an Aesthetic


“Little Boy” a facsimile of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.


"Twenty-two years after the mass obliteration of souls, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and three days later on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, monstrous deformities persisted in the Japanese psyche—tragically splintered by defeat, subjugation, humiliation, and inconceivable horrors—unable to command a return to a unified monolithic persona, the ordered cerebral imperative and societal dignity of pre-nuclear innocence."
excerpts from PERSISTENCE OF A GENETIC SCAR by Julie Rauer
Japanese Anime, Manga, and Otaku Culture Fill an Open National Wound


Link to complete essayhttp://www.asianart.com/exhibitions/...boy/intro.html


anatomical drawing of "Flaming Monster Gamera." Nearly every middle aged Japanese man today, the post-war children of the 1960s, peered into the disfigured bodies of monsters in editor Shoji Otomo’s book, An Anatomical Guide to Monsters (1967) A clinically visceral gallery of the explicably grotesque, creatures culled from popular television and movies dissected and rationally explained through the disturbingly familiar prism of darkest ersatz science is a chilling rendition of unnatural physiology in the service of impotent fury and thrashing confusion, the “subhuman” legacy of World War II.

"Society cannot recover from such an epic scale of devastation, but may, instead, manifest trauma as a perpetual genetic scar—ontological chasm which moves as a consumptive demon ripping up through the generations as a peripatetic wound, egregious disfigurement banished from conscious thought, inflating to cartoon benignity in a pantomime of humanity, sutured gash badly sewn and always reopening, futile replacement of scarred mortality for the immaculate technology of machines, and finally as the wholesale abandonment of frail humanity for alternative existential states."Julie Rauer



Installation shot, Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture.
Yuji Sakai, godzilla figures 1954-1995, various scales and dates.



Godzilla, symbol of rage against its creators, Japan’s own Golem and deliverer of inevitable annihilation.
Resurrected from deep sea dormancy and transformed from benign reptile to marauding destroyer of Tokyo by a hydrogen bomb,
Godzilla is both the wrath of an innocent altered by unseen catastrophe to “subhuman” fate, and the embodiment of relentless incendiary deluge by unstoppable forces.


Comparable to the American “nerd” or “fanboy”, otaku—literally translated as “house” from Japanese—denotes staunch individualism outside the Japanese mainstream in those personalities relegated to the debased fringes of society, further extending to fanaticism approaching cultism in its strident video collectors and technophiles divested of personal lives beyond their dominant reigning obsession. “Although some otaku prize themselves as “genetic” otaku, all are ultimately defined by their relentless references to a humiliated self.”
J.R.


I think this is the place to posit the idea of an infantalism- that part of the contemporary Japanese psyche that is bound up in it’s comparison to the (parental) conquering United States. Part of this displacement of adulthood for adolescence manifests itself in the toy doll culture of Japan where businesses, localities have as their emblem cartoonlike mascots (yuru chara) whose iconography masks adult traits such as independence and intrepidness. The childlike mascot is a benevolent disguise of a deeper phenomenon that one may suggest a “hiding” of adult traits of merit and of darkness...traits that perhaps are best kept cloaked behind a benign and harmless facade.
James Brinsfield Lecturer KCAI


Benevolent Boundary Creature : Ultraman: Part 19th Century Japanese Temple Warrior, part cyborg machine.
Past and future fused into “present” aesthetic unconsciousness.



In the coalescence of various psychological states of the post-war Japanese psyche, the defining parameters of universal human suffering can be found: “subhuman”, signifying hideous deformity and repulsion by civilized society, the monstrous underbelly in exiled fury; the unformed and incomplete “protohuman”; “flawed human” in perpetual repair or denial of the present human condition, appropriating history as panacea; the genetic or cyborgian amalgam of man and machine, “hyperhuman”, enhancements which ironically elevate and siphon life in a Faustian bargain with technology; and finally “superhuman”, offering cathartic transcendence of mortal existence, encapsulation of the soul outside of its given body, fluid and transmutable, virtual immortality. J.R.


Chiho Aoshima, "City Glow",2005. Multi-panel graphic installation at Union Square subway station.
On view May 2 – 31, 2005.Digital print on vinyl. A project of NYC Public Art Fund and the Japan Society
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      12-30-2006, 03:58 PM   #8
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All the images above came from the "Little Boy" Website of the Japan Society in New York City. I saw the exhibit in spring of 2005 and was absolutely knocked out.
Overwhelmed is probably a better word. The installations, the care that went into the entire show was among the best I've ever seen both as an intellectual premise and a visual display.

Fortunately there is a catalog...and it is a whopper- bi-lingual with many illustrations and very concise informative essays...unfortunately it is out-of-print but still available through Amazon at a hefty price.

I should return to the beginning of this thread- obviously (inspite of Mazda's Laurens van den Acker's observations) there is a contemporary Japanese aesthetic...
one that is now beginning to filter through into automobile design.
All the signifiers are there...if we use the words.."grotesque"..."infantile"
as nouns denoting categories rather than descriptors, then the new Supra
Concept fits in as an ideal example of some of the points made by me and Julie Rauer.
Whether it catches on with the public- or has any resonance outside of Japan is up for debate.
This is something that bears watching in the next few years.
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      01-02-2007, 08:45 AM   #9
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Borderline- where man fears to thread...


Pubescence as sexual fantasy. Otaku figurines enter the realm of soft-porn and moral taboo.


And now this, riding alongside the Japanese penchant for cute (kawaii)-
or “cutism” such as the ubiquitous image of Hello Kittie is another fold in the fabric of infantalism- one that perhaps could have been predicted.
Lolicon...derived from Lolita...is the sexualization of cute- the soft-porn of young women dressing as children, the short-skirted figurines of Oshima Yuki,
or the ravishing watercolors of Aya Takano's portrayal of innocent girls-
...a kind of look-but-don’t touch-look that flirts with super-taboo pedophilia.
It’s interesting that the concept of “adult” is seen through a dark prism and pubescence is cast as a predator’s wonderland.



Illustration for Hiroshi Homura's "Mail Mania Mami's Summertime Move with a Rabbit," by Aya Takano.
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      01-02-2007, 10:41 AM   #10
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OK, that's enough!!! I'm pulling all the stuffed animals out of my daughters bedroom...!!!!
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      01-02-2007, 11:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spudwest View Post
OK, that's enough!!! I'm pulling all the stuffed animals out of my daughters bedroom...!!!!
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      01-02-2007, 01:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spudwest View Post
OK, that's enough!!! I'm pulling all the stuffed animals out of my daughters bedroom...!!!!
I know Spud...the road to hell is paved with stuffed animals and rubber dolls!!!
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      01-02-2007, 10:53 PM   #13
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More Info: "VIBRANT CLARITY"



About a year ago, Toyota asked its designers and engineers a simple question: “What would be a suitable and appropriate Toyota sports car for the 21st century?”
The result is the FT-HS, a hybrid sports car designed at Toyota’s Calty design center in Newport Beach. The idea was to find out if it is feasible to combine ecology and emotion in a sports car; to make an eco-friendly car that is fun to drive. Why bother? Because Toyota thinks drivers of the future will be eco-conscious but won’t want to give up performance cars. The car’s looks are bound to provoke some debate (they already have around our office), and indeed Toyota refers to it as “perfect imbalance.”

Calty director Kevin Hunter says the FT-HS expresses the “values of a design strategy that combines two key elements: J-Factor and vibrant clarity. J-Factor is the conceptual umbrella. It refers to the local and global acceptance of Japanese-inspired design and cultural sensibilities. “Vibrant clarity, on the other hand, is the design language used to express the J-Factor, much in the same way that L-Finesse is the language of the Lexus division.”

Hunter says the car’s hard-edge corners will smooth airflow and reduce turbulence. The hood’s scalloped channel exposes the hybrid engine. The roof has a scooped-out section designed to reduce aerodynamic drag and provide more headroom. The front end’s lower intake provides additional cooling and airflow management. The underbody is fully covered to improve aerodynamic efficiency.

The Calty designers, who have been working on the FT-HS for an entire year, are even willing to suggest that once the future arrives, a hybrid powertrain will be necessary to achieve the feeling of ultrahigh-performance that you want in a sports car. In a fuel-efficient future, a jolt of acceleration from an electric motor might become the equivalent of an injection of nitrous oxide into your gas-powered engine.

All this has overtones of ecological friendliness, of course, but as the buzz about global warming and greenhouse gases becomes a part of daily life, Calty's designers remind us that a hybrid powertrain will have a certain quotient of respectability that you won't find in a supercharged big-block V8. The FT-HS is even painted white because white is not only a pure motorsports color, but it's clean which, Hunter tell us, supports the car's hybrid message.

Apparently the design has been inspired by the look of a downhill speed skier, in which individual aerodynamic elements are more important than overall streamlining. "Vibrant clarity is our new Toyota design language," Hunter tells us. "And the car is packing plenty of J-Factor, which is the local and global acceptance of Japanese design."

As envisioned by the Calty team, the engine will be visible through a hole in the hood to emphasize its hybrid nature. That dark portion in the middle of the hood is actually the engine cover poking through, much like a shaker hood scoop from the 1960s.

"We were thinking about the Formula 1 aesthetic," Hunter tells us. "An aesthetic driven by function. The hard edges all over the FT-HS are aerodynamically functional. We also wanted to boil down the shape of the car to its minimum requirements. We wanted it to look lightweight. We call that 'Subtractive Mass.'"

Also functional are the large air intakes ahead of the rear wheelwells, which will direct cooling air to the rear-mounted battery pack. A full belly pan enhances aerodynamic slipperiness. The car rides on carbon-fiber wheels that carry 245/35ZR-21 tires in front and 285/30ZR-21 tires in the rear and according to Hunter were very difficult to make.


Gathered from various sources incl. Autoweek.
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      01-03-2007, 09:20 AM   #14
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It looks like the kind of car design you would get if you sat a talented graphic artist down to draw a futuristic sports car. Impressive, aggressive, but devoid of soul. If I try really hard, I can see some lineage to the most recent Celica, but that's it... It's a good science project.
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      01-03-2007, 04:09 PM   #15
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I agree Spud- I don't think it's an inspired rendition...almost like someone went nuts with a ruler.
But, to me it is an important design because of the clear linkage to some of the items I listed in citing hallmarks of a Japanese aesthetic...important because it's one of the first that I know of, that directly takes it's cues from some ideas that are homegrown rather than the typical copycat Japanese designs or the really lame watered down things that are so diluted that they're merely generic. And, you know, just to underscore things, that the Toyota Calty designers recognized that an aesthetic is filtered through multiple sources including those that lie outside the purview of a particular genre. Automobile design in this case.

What I think is truly ironic is that it was designed in California.

I've been thinking a lot about this thing- of tracing a national design aesthetic. I'm not sure it really holds up because of the globalization
of design...but.....
What, for example would characterize German design or American design...if there is such a thing?
In Germany glorifying the past (WW2) is morally verbotten. How would one, for instance, set about studying the incredible designs of WW2 Luftwaffe or U-Boats without invoking the transgressions of National Socialism...can design be detached from its linkage to history? The upcoming sale of the Auto Union Type "D" suggests it can't.

The German government has resurrected German Expressionism (apprx circa 1910-1920) as the official canon of what could be called a German aesthetic- more or less because of it's historical ties to the democratic Weimar Republic and because the German Expressionists had their paintings and sculptures banned from museums when the Nazi's came into power. Hitler, who had some training as an artist in Austria, declared German Expressionism "degenerate". As a result of Hitler's decree many of the expressionists lost their teaching jobs and all were forbidden to exhibit their works.

Do I see hints of flame-surfacing? Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, the shining star of die Brucke painting movement in Berlin fled to Switzerland and comitted suicide on the day Hitler's Wehrmacht marched into Czechoslovakia in 1938.
So Kichner becomes a political and a cultural martyr. Thank goodness the German Expressionists were such damn good painters.


The German artist Neo Rauch.
Also, in a truly weird turn of events, the hottest new paintings out of Germany come from artists living in Dresden and Leipzig...in the former East Germany, who are influenced by dreadful Soviet-era political poster art and awful-awful ersatz surrealism. But it's pretty good stuff....certainly an entirely different way of painting than we've seen in the west.
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      01-04-2007, 10:38 AM   #16
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I'm envious of the depth of your analysis, Brookside. If I'm correctly interpreting the essence this thread, you have provided a vivid look into the design culture that is represented by the "Next Supra" as it is distinct from European design. You have referred to some historical circumstances (Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in particular) as well as the pubescnent "fanboy" overtones that are perhaps a product of this culture's marginalization (however far short of prohibition) of indivuduality and self expression.

In my own observation, I would note that automotive design, like many other areas of industrial design, has been adopted and improved upon by Asian cultures. But their success in this respect has been more about capitalizing on an opportunity to address flaws in design, rather than design within a purely Asian aesthetic. It is as though the goal is not to design for themselves, but to redesign to re-sell. The Lexus IS relative to the BMW 3 is a good example - a desperate (although reasonably successful) quest to emulate, more reliable etc., but relatively soulless and bland.

Referring back to the case in point, the "New Supra", emphasis on cold scientific goals, such as headroom, aerodynamic efficiency and ecological friendliness is indicative. While these are essential elements for any car design, the emphasis on them is indicative of a science-inspired car, as opposed to a passion-inspired one... Also, the J-factor (inspiring local and global acceptence) denotes a distubingly weak position from which one would promote a concept such as a sports car. This is the antithesis of a bold statement and an overwhelming indication of a dilluted "please everybody" approach. Hardly inspiring.

And the design language of the J-Concept, "vibrant clarity", indicates a lack of commitment to anything in particular. What does it mean? And to what is it in contrast, such that the "New Supra" would stand out from the competition?

All that to say that I'm not sure the aesthetic represented by this design is particularly deep. Can the Japanese design beautiful cars? Absolutely. Miata, S2000, NSX, Supra, WRX, Supra are fine examples.

As a car maker Toyota has demonstrated a lack of passion. Perhaps they are too big. Their F1 team is run by a BoD and can't seem to compete with teams run by passionate sportsmen. And Toyota's North American lineup, while successful in terms of sales, is anything by inspiring.

If the above is the best that Toyota can do, I'll never own one...
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      01-04-2007, 04:24 PM   #17
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I can't agree with you on this one Spud- I think it's the beginning of something that is unique to Japan-
a new language of design in spite of the Calty designers thinking that they had to come up with a lame slogan in order to conjure buzz.
The Supra Concept is flawed... the snow-plow front, the tortured double-layered side;but it's a step.
I say let's watch this grow...if Toyota is there with this as a design strategy....in the way BMW got behind Chris Bangle,
we'll be seeing some interesting new things from Japan.
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      01-09-2007, 08:27 AM   #18
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Public Debut > 2007 NAIAS in Detroit. January 8th, 2007
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