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Fitting In While Standing Out, Ford Designers and Chicago Architects Discuss Parallel Trends in Aesthetic Worlds
by Staff Report

Sleekly fashioned from steel and glass and carefully designed to accentuate their surroundings, today’s buildings are judged on individual aesthetics as much as their ability to complement their cityscape. They have much in common, then, with many of today’s automobiles, which are designed to be both beautiful and culturally relevant with visual elements that reflect their era.

Today, Ford Motor Company is joining with the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) to discuss how the two industries are moving in parallel, interpreting similar trends and learning from each other.
“Big Ideas in Small Spaces: Proportion in Design,” a luncheon panel hosted by Ford and CAF, features automotive design experts and Chicago-based architects and innovators who will discuss how societal trends inspire and influence both the architectural and automotive industries.
“My favorite buildings are pristine, pure and simple, but they work because they are placed in a position that allows culture around them to shine,” said J Mays, group vice president, global design, and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company. “Cars, like architecture, have to be appropriate for their culture. A well-designed building or car will give a viewer a guide into the time in which it is built.”
Chicago has long been a leader in architecture, especially the creation of skyscrapers. The city pioneered standard construction methods for steel frame structures and helped move the world past the use of traditional brick and concrete for tall buildings. The work of Louis Sullivan and Mies van der Rohe was at the forefront of these functional skyscrapers, with these innovative, Chicago-based architects upholding high standards for design aesthetics.
Trends in today’s design world show that consumers in dense urban areas pay close attention to product details. With crowded areas packed with eye-catching creations, consumers differentiate their options by focusing on small features that separate one product from the pack.
“Consumers want something that looks great, but is also full of features,” Mays said. “The new Ford Fiesta delivers attributes not usually associated with a car its size, everything from the eye-catching grille to the outstanding technologies; it stands as a symbol for what can be done with limited space.”
The 2014 Ford Fiesta comes to market with one of the most comprehensive suites of in-car connectivity technology features available in a small car – SYNC® with MyFord Touch® with a new 6.5-inch LCD touch screen. With MyFord Touch powered by Microsoft, Fiesta drivers can stay connected to their lives, easily getting the information and entertainment they want while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Architects and auto designers face similar challenges in creating something that stands out from the crowd.
“Everyone has seen everything, the Internet has allowed everyone to view architecture from the other side of the world in a heartbeat,” said panel moderator Diane Atwood, director of the Atwood Foundation and CAF Trustee. “Designers in all fields, then, are competing not just with what’s around them, but with the work of the international creative community.”
Good building design is not about creating a structure that looks like it was made for the entire world, Atwood explained, but it is about creating something that has universal appeal.
“Consumers expect products that not only deliver functionality and quality, but also style and a sense of premium-ness that is actually attainable,” Mays said. “This applies to the automotive world as well, and vehicles like Fusion and the new Fiesta are a culmination of this principle.”
The all-new Fusion balances form and function, offering a stunning design without sacrificing fuel efficiency. The midsize sedan carries an EPA-estimated 47 mpg rating for its hybrid offering and 100 MPGe combined for the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.
The panel discussion can be followed live at
Panel participants include:

    Diane Atwood, director, Atwood Foundation and CAF Trustee
    J Mays, group vice president of global design, and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company 
    Carlos Martinez, principal and regional design director, Gensler Chicago and CAF Trustee
    Jonathan Gately, associate principal architect of design, Jahn
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