by Gautam Sen, Avik ChattopadhyayMay 01, 2021
Life, for most part, is like a juggernaut. Much like a spinning wheel forging ahead with irrepressible force – come rain, hail or pandemic, it charges on. As ambitious as they are – while humans cannot of course, reinvent the wheel, they cannot stop reinventing the carriages that rest atop it. The automotive design industry is perhaps one of the most powerful representations of the evolution of the human race itself – both literally and figuratively.
This is the quest undertaken by Freewheeling, a STIR original column led by Gautam Sen, a leading automotive consultant, journalist, and author, and Avik Chattopadhyay, an automotive expert and brand strategist formerly associated with Maruti Suzuki, Caltex, ExxonMobil, Apollo Tyres, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Volkswagen, among others.
The columnists, based in Paris and Gurgaon respectively, chart many courses and undertake adventures in collaboration with eminent car designers such as Ivo Groen, Vice President & Head of Creative Design at Lynk & Co at Geely Design Global and previously Vice President Design Programs, DS Automobiles; and the Italian father-son duo of Ercole and Paolo Spada. Ercole is known for his designs on Aston Martin, Ferrari, Maserati, as well as Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Fiat and Lancia in the 60s, while together they now drive Spadaconcept, a new design house aimed at automotive and industrial design.
Freewheeling traces the journey of global automotive design – milestones, trivia, designers, vehicles, styles, studios, technologies, trends – by probing, introspecting, reflecting and even crystal-ball gazing into the future. It comes alive with years of research-based analyses, insightful narratives and engaging video conversations featuring rare, adrenalin-pumping visual archives.
In the words of its curators, “Freewheeling is a journey. An unending journey digging deep into perspectives, opinion, and debate beyond just facts and records. It aims to counter stereotypes, challenge myths, unearth hidden truths. Every month, through words, pictures, and videos, we reach out to both the enthusiast as well as the inquisitive mind to help understand, appreciate, and love this amazing world where dreams are conjured up every day."
From the humble motorised bicycle to the evocative luxury barge on wheels, an automobile is an object that is an aspiration, a manifestation, and an expression. Of one's personality, one's achievement, one's conviction and one's relentless discomfort with the status quo. Freewheeling is a ride into that remarkable world, the people who inhabit it and their creations.
Belt up and enjoy the ride!
In the first column on automotive design, Gautam Sen and Avik Chattopadhyay trace the earliest inventions, from da Vinci's designs in 1478 to the Benz Patent-Motorwagen.
Gautam Sen and Avik Chattopadhyay cover the era of the creation of the modern motorcar, and the introduction of the ‘Coachbuilder’.
The columnists continue their journey with the coachbuilders into a fresh new year and move into the age that witnessed the “art” of coachbuilders.
In an insightful video chat, Dutch car designer Ivo Groen indulges Gautam Sen and Avik Chattopadhyay in the 50s, 60s and 70s: the golden decades of automotive design across the world.