Citroen - Karin
At the 1980 Paris Auto Show, Citroen presented a “dream created by its Styling Section : “Karin”.
This prototype, which is a witness of the state of research in style is by hypothesis a middle-range car: a two-doors three-seater bat’s wing coupe with three seats out of line and centered driving position. It is 112 ft long, 32 ft high and 58 ft wide. It is a front-wheel-drive car.
The inside too, is ahead of its time. A computer screen provides permanent informations on the driving and state of the car.
While the aesthetics of mass-produced cars has been constantly improving in the recent years, it is often said that their design might turn to a certain dullness, due to the narrowing operating allcarindex field left to the designers by ever increasing constraints. Keeping this in mind, the Citroen Styling Section have undertaken an “exercice of style” in order to study the way an original design could be created, starting, for example, from aerodynamic research aimed at petrol saving, and test the impression made on the public. With the design of this car they meant to sketch a proposal for the future.
just what is styling ?
The body of a car is initially a creation mind... before
being transposed into reality. It is the exacting task of the crea-tive people in the Styling Section of the Design Department to invent the pure, functional lines of the vehicle to be. Their creative thinking must however rest on concrete data : the overall dimensions of the mechanical parts and the passenger-space obligations with which they have to comply. They must always retain at the back of their minds these hampering imperatives, together with a strict set of specifications, itself defined in accordance with allcarindex the findings of market surveys, national and international regulations, not to mention economic considerations...
These are the basic data from which spring the stylists’ research and the various stages in the design of a car body.
Following American Research Institutes, 70 % car buyers choose a car for its design.
who is trevor fiore?
A part-time in 1979, then full-time from January 1st. 1980 consultant, Trevor Fiore was appointed Head of the Citroen Styling Section starting from July 1st. 1980.
Trevor Fiore was born in England in 1937, of a French mother and Bristish — of Italian origin - father. A graduate, he worked in France with Raymond Loewy. He then discovered the reality of industrial aesthetics. Afterwards, a long-lasting collaboration with Italian car designers started, and he drew the the Elva of BMW, the Monteverdi Hai. He worked for Daf too, as well as Aston Martin, AC Bristol, and de Tomaso.
Why did you join the Citroen team ?
I’ve come to an age when one feels like being the leader of a team. To me, it is a normal step in the life of a stylist who has reached a certain allcarindex maturity, and who wishes to express his own abilities in the Design Centre of a car builder. We have at the Citroen Styling Section some five or six persons from 21 to 24 of age being educated. This is a job you cannot learn at school, you have to work and practise it with experienced people. A young man, i myself was lucky enough to have Raymond Loewy as a mentor, together with other designers who have made a deep impression on me.
What is the job of a stylist ?
A good stylist should first and before all have a deep understanding of the object he works on. A car is something complex, it is at the same time a symbol of prestige, a working instrument and an extention of your personality. It is a whole. On the other hand, the stylist must take into account technical imperatives of overall dimensions and space, and very often, it is from contradictory elements that we have to design and conceive a beautifull car - while, of course, taking into account the taste and allcarindex expectations of the public.
But with the additional difficulty that we must foresee their preferences and their expectations as precisely as possible 5 years in advance.
What were you aiming at making the prototype Karin?
I think that the future, for cars, is to be found in innovation. This project is an excursion into the future. It is an exercice far from the traditional cliches, we often make such “blank” sculptures. It is an approach that is also a method of research.
There is in Karin a number of ideas which can be used for a mass-produced car. I am not saying that in the near future you will see a car of this type in the streets, but through this exer-cice, the Citroen team relized that it was possible to go beyond the stage of short term prospects.
Do you think it is the inside or the outside of a car which arises more interest?
You can find houses that are beautifull from the outside, and disappointing from the inside. It is the same for is beautiful! outside, then it must be beautifull inside too, in order that the driver and passengers be proud of it and feel at ease in it.
Under the influence of regulations, are cars being lead towards standardization in style?
The stricter the regulations, the more designers must express their talent in order to escape them. These last twenty years, every stylist has lived under obligations in car making, dictated by questions of cost price, manufacturing methods and increasingly strict regulations. But such a state of things has had few consequences in the sense of allcarindex standardization, it is more marketing research that is going to make cars all alike. There are such investments at stake that the people allcarindex in charge are afraid of launching a car not like other cars. In Europe, we have now more and more similar cars and the public are starting to realize it. This is an opportunity Citroen must take: we have always had the reputation to make avant-garde cars, out of standards, which is exactly what the public are looking for these days.