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Art & Inspiration Harley Earl's Office

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ryan, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. Django
    Joined: Nov 15, 2002
    Posts: 10,197

    from Chicago

    Wow! Soooo coooool.

    Dig the feet on his office chair and the contrast between the wood and the silver on the desk.

    Interesting point Rich. I would say no because think how groundbreaking that design was back then. This type of design is extremely relevant today. Much more than say something like Art Deco or Art Nouveau.
  2. BBobb
    Joined: Feb 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,865


    Ryan,when your under the weather you really do think up some of the stuff that would never come to my mind.....WILD!!!!
  3. synthsis
    Joined: Mar 29, 2006
    Posts: 1,899


    That office just screams Mad Men. I love it. I'm such a sucker for MCM design.
  4. stude_trucks
    Joined: Sep 13, 2007
    Posts: 4,755


    I'm an architect, so not O/T to me. It is all about design and shaping your surroundings - buildings, cars, furniture; it is all not too far off. Designing and making stuff is all related no mater what it is.

    As far as GM goes, I have to give them some credit for still having that stuff around. But, sadly, if they don't start getting into the real future instead of looking towards the past, they aren't going to be around much longer. If they don't flat out kill that damn piece of shit Camaro project, then they really don't stand much of a chance. Reviving the Camaro and giving it a retro design is just plain weak, backwards thinking at it's worst. That has nothing to do with any real design and more to do with copy-cat marketing trying to keep up instead of getting ahead.

    I hope they preserve that architecture because it definitely worth preserving, but maybe they also need some new architecture just like they obviously need some new ideas when it comes to designing and marketing cars as well. There are plenty of architects out today, Americans ones too - plenty, that could can do just as nice a work as that and even better. It is good stuff and again deserves to be preserved, no doubt, but given half a chance, plenty of architects today do some pretty killer buildings. When that office was designed and built, Americans wanted a cool future and knew how to make it happen. I doubt GM knows much about that now though or will anytime in the near future if now ever at this point.

    I have said it before, but again, if you want and design yourself to be in the past, that is exactly where you will eventually be. GM seems determined to design themselves right into the past. As cool as some of it may be, regardless, it is not a good business move to be in the past.

    If you want to check out people who still want a cool future, or at least appreciate the future and have a positive outlook for it, check some of this stuff out.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  5. BStoltz
    Joined: Mar 30, 2009
    Posts: 123


    wow all those pics are amazing........ what an awesome place to have worked at back in the day!!!!!
  6. MichaelDorman
    Joined: Apr 27, 2001
    Posts: 849


    That stuff is cool as hellI but it's nothing new. Allot of that design looks like a rehash of mid-century design and architecture. My Grandfather is an architect also, Richard Dorman. He Worked with Richard Nuetra and Welton Becket (the Capitol Records Building, Pan Pacific Auditorium, etc.). Before going on to his own fame and fortune. He taught me all I know about design and form. All that stuff on that site is just a re-do.

    I personally love the look of Harvey's office and find it pretty amazing that it looks pretty much the same. I don't think that appreciating good classic design will lead down a road to extiction like you might suggest. It can take in some very good direction if you let it.
    Case in point, the Cadillac Sixteen. An amazing tour de force of industrial and transportation design. Very forward thinking, but lots of little nods to the past designs.

    These are some good examples of futuristic architecture...

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  7. stude_trucks
    Joined: Sep 13, 2007
    Posts: 4,755


    Well, yes, you are correct. All design has to be built upon the past and what has already been done before. It is pretty much impossible to invent anything too crazy new in architecture. People have been building buildings now for thousands of years. So, kind of hard to not be at least a little out of date or copying something from the past no matter how cutting edge. And yes, plenty of killer older modern stuff that is not just 40-50 years old, but some easily all the way back to the 20's and even before. Even some of the utilitarian Roman stuff is kind of simple and modern if you look at it that way.

    But, my point is, sitting around in a retro office, designing retro cars, is maybe not the most optimistic thing to see from a company that needs to reinvent themselves. They are in the business to make new cars and by nature, new cars need to be about the future. No matter how badly some might want the past back or how cool it was back then, making cars like it was still 1960 or even 2000 will not solve their problems.

    I still appreciate that they do see enough in that office and furniture to maybe possibly understand that it was really meant in essence to inspire the future. If they can see and understand that and apply that to their new products we will need in the future, then it is still doing the job it was originally meant to do. But, if they just see it as part of the glory days of the past to get back to, then my guess is sadly they likely won't be around too much longer.
  8. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,745

    from Novi, MI

    i LOVE that stuff. i may have a chance to interview at the GM Tech Center in Warren in a few weeks... unless i get that job at the GM Proving Grounds in Milford that i interviewed for today. i think i would rather work at the Tech Center but i'm not complaining. either job would be a blessing and a dream come true... and a whole lot better than unemjoyment!!!
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,408

    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    Ed rules. I sincerely hope they put him in charge.

    he is the reason g.m. has camaro's again. love them or hate them, that fact alone rules.

    if You look at his past work, he is kind of a "Harley Earl" himself....
  10. Oh man.

    Ryan wh'd you have tom go and do that to us?

    That desk is to die for.

    Style and fucntion - a thing of the past, which is why I love mid century modern design so much.

    Thanx for sharing.

  11. buickvalvenut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2008
    Posts: 660

    from Rialto

    off topic!...this one for the book my friend. that were dreams happend and came true
  12. MichaelDorman
    Joined: Apr 27, 2001
    Posts: 849


    In that case, I agree with you on this 100%.
  13. qzjrd5
    Joined: Nov 23, 2004
    Posts: 1,250

    from Troy, MI

    Ryan, thanks for making this a feature. I visited the Eero Saarinen exhibit at Cranbrook (MI) a year or so ago. Extremely cool.

    I have worked for GM for going on 12 years now. Many of those years spent at the GM Tech Center in Warren. Its funny, when I walk the halls through some of the older buildings, I really do think about the cars that I love so much being designed by guys like me years earlier. Its very cool to think about.

    I am not sure what the future is going to bring for those of us that work at GM (or Chrysler and Ford for that matter). I know I love working on cars, at work and after work. I know that most of the engineers that I work with also love cars, and are extremely talented.

    I also know most of us at GM are very dedicated to the survival of what I think is the best company in the world that actually conceptualizes, designs, engineers, and manufactures something people like us can be passionate about.

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  14. Personally I'm a little disappointed in Harley Earl's office . I thought at least something would have fins on it .
  15. Nik
    Joined: Nov 12, 2005
    Posts: 584


    Eero's Dad Eliel was also an amazing architect. I was lucky enough several years ago to get two watercolors by Eliel and have them hanging in our living room. I'd love to find something by Eero to go with them.

  16. autobilly
    Joined: May 23, 2007
    Posts: 3,094


  17. VonMoldy
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 1,556

    from UTARRGH!

    Aww man I read that article too. I first started reading and I immediately was like$ "hmm wonder if he know Ed Welburns office is basicically the same?"
  18. battersea boys
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 627

    battersea boys
    from surrey

    Basic human notion will only accept certain design evolution, stuffing citizens in concrete monoliths during the sixties didn,t work, the instinct is still set in the traditional three bedroom Edwardian house with front and back garden.

    Therefore when we juxtapose the design of the automobile we should not look at the iconic designs but to the whole marques range.

    In Europe you can see cutting edge design all having a "tip of the hat" to past examples.
    We musn,t forsake the past for the future we should respect it and honor it, ....
  19. Johnnyzoom
    Joined: Jun 23, 2006
    Posts: 319

    from Florida

  20. I am thinking the same thing. How many scotches, bourbons, and whiskeys were drunk on that sofa with William Mitchell, and other key GM players planning the look of future GM products!

    I'd love to see the rest of the office. Harley Earl was a known clothes horse, and usually kept several suits on hand, so that during the humid Michigan summers, when he showed up at executive meetings, he wouldn't be dressed in a crumpled suit like other execs.
  21. I believe it. Here's another story:

    Vince Kaptur worked at GM Design in Engineering and Design Development. He told the story of working on the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado in which Harley Earl wasn't satisfied with the roof line profile. They worked all morning revising the roof line, and when Earl came back in to look at their design, he told them that if they lowered the roof 1/2 inch, that it would then be "right".

    Kaptur knew that they couldn't lower the roof line anymore, so he told the guys to draw a line 1/2 inch higher, and then erase it. When Earl came back in, and believed it, and said, " Now doesn't that look a hell of a lot better!"

    Kaptur said, "Yes sir, it does."
  22. very cool office for sure. if gm put all that furniture on ebay their financial troubles would be over!!!

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