by Gautam Sen, Avik ChattopadhyayMay 01, 2021
Name of the book you are currently reading.
Ivo Groen (IG): Tom Tjaarda: Master of Proportions.
Who is the author?
IG: Gautam Sen.
What is the genre?
Do you judge a book by its cover?
IG: Yes, the cover can spark my interest spontaneously. Of course, in the case of this book, I was waiting patiently for author Gautam to have finished it, to have the pleasure of reading it. I had recently read his book on Maestro Gandini (Marcello Gandini: Maestro of Design) from cover to cover and could not wait till summer vacation to get started on this one.
As it turns out, the cover art, consisting of a close-up of the rear quarter window of a light blue de Tomaso Pantera is absolutely striking! The hardcover has a nice, simple design by graphic artist, Jodi Ellis.
What made you pick it up? Can you highlight any notable aspect of the book’s design aesthetics, typography, images…?
IG: As I mentioned, I knew my friend and author Gautam Sen was working on this book about automotive design hero, Tom Tjaarda, as we had discussed some of the content and had exchanged some pictures related to the incident of the Bertone Fiat X 1/9 and Ghia’s de Tomaso 1600 1971 show car.
I had met Tom Tjaarda a decade ago, having been introduced to him by a mutual friend, author and automotive designer, Robert Cumberford. We spoke in English, as Tom’s mother tongue of Dutch was all but forgotten. I found him extremely shy and modest. Years later, we were to join efforts in the judging of a category of Italian classics during the International Concours d’Elégance Het Loo, in The Netherlands. Unfortunately, this was not to be, for Tom had become too ill to travel by the time this event came along. I have always found it a great shame not to have had the pleasure of talking to Tom about this wonderful period of Italian creativity and have taken solace in being able to read about it in Gautam’s superb book. The unique feature of the book is the many excerpts of Tom Tjaarda’s until hereto unpublished biography!
Your most favourite part(s) of it?
IG: I found the stories about Argentinian mogul, Alejandro de Tomaso, fascinating! It would make for a good film or series on Netflix. Unbridled quotes by Tom Tjaarda still ring so true, over half a century onwards! This makes for extremely satisfying reading and thank goodness for Tom having trusted Gautam in sharing his thoughts for posterity.
The account of the Fiesta-Iacocca event reminded me of “a day at the office” at my previous employer! Fortunately, I now have a more holistic perspective on that type of behaviour, avoiding spoiling my holiday reading!
Did you gain any insight, or did it help you unwind?
IG: Thanks to Gautam Sen’s superb research, I now finally understand the exact involvement of another one of my favourite car designers, Paolo Martin, in the genesis of the Fiesta design.
Your favourite lines to quote from the book.
IG: I love this quote about Charisma! “However, to me, there was one important ingredient missing, charisma. That hard-to-define quality which can influence, set trends, as well as break the mould, the presence of which was probably the reason why Ford bought Ghia in the first place. That has now been sacrificed with the familiar, the settled, and the safe."
At what time of the day do you read?
IG: Usually after lunch on the weekend, or in the evening before going to sleep.
Hard books, e-books or audio/video books?
IG: Hard books, mostly. I guess I am what you would call a "paper man"... As a designer born in the analogue age, I still love to draw with pen or pencil on paper, and find it more sensual and spontaneous than digital means. Of course, I am well aware, that it really is a question of habit and preference. I read work-related media on my PC or smartphone, but to me, reading for pleasure means picking up a physical book and going through the pages. In a book like Tom Tjaarda: Master of Proportions; lots of post-its will grow in chapters I might wish to refer back to. A beautifully crafted book is a pleasure to hold and behold.
One book or book adaptation as a film that you always want to go back to.
IG: Ian Fleming's complete series of 007 adventures - I read these in paperback during my summer holidays at my maternal grandparents' house, where I had my room in the attic. The attic was full of treasures such as dried apples, old models of wooden sailboats, and my adjacent bedroom had shelves filled with Agatha Christies and James Bond paperbacks in English. Perhaps they were my mother's or my uncle's, I don't remember. I do remember learning to read English way before I was taught in school, and also having completed the series before ever having seen my first Bond (On her Majesty's Secret Service) in the cinema as a re-run! My sister went to see Grease instead... After watching the Bond films, I went back to read some of the original Fleming stories and realised the adaptations were more or less successful. But Sean Connery and some of those beautiful cars and Q-gadgets largely made up for that!
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