Research – A “Form” Study – The History of Italian Vehicle Styling.

28 04 2009

The three great Italian independent design studios

Turin, Italy, once the global center of car styling, has been loosing leading edge since the early ‘90s. Although it still has the world’s biggest independent studios – Pininfarina, Bertone and Italdesign – plus traditional players like Zagato and Ghia and new comers such as IDEA and Fioravanti, car makers just stopped employing them and set up their own in-house studios. Among them, many chose California.
As a result, California is becoming another center of car styling. In contrast to Turin, California is not bounded by tradition. Sunshine, Hollywood and multi-culture lead to freedom of thinking hardly matched by other places, thus gave birth to many radical designs, especially funny cars.

However, no matter how commercially successful it is, so far we have yet to see any cars coming from California as beautiful as Pininfarina’s Alfa GTV and Peugeot 406 Coupe, or anything as stunning as Gandini ever did. In fact, the most credible in-house studios recent years are also non-California-based, i.e., the Britain’s Jaguar studio (think of S-Type), the French Peugeot (206 and 607) and Alfa Romeo studio (156 and 147), the latter is also Turin-based.
The world of car styling is now more diversified than ever.

“The history of the car is reflected in that of its lines, beauty and elegance, in the ability to bring an aesthetic concept to life. The artist is the stylist whose works are also masterpieces, the expression of a talent in some cases handed down and which contributes to creating an unmistakable dream”.

With a history dating back to 1930, Pininfarina is now one of the major suppliers of design, product and process engineering and manufacturing of niche vehicles on the automotive scene. The biggest car styling studio in the world. Famous of designing nearly all Ferraris since the ‘50s. Founded by Battista Pininfarina (1893-1966) in 1930 after serving Fiat as a designer and turning down offering from Henry Ford. He designed and coach-built many masterpieces, including the pioneering Cisitalia 202, which reshaped modern cars forever. Later on, he secured the long-term partnership with Ferrari while started mass production in his plant with Alfa Giulietta Spider.
Pininfarina is a Leading Design House, flexible Partner for OEMs and self-branded car Manufacturer. Pininfarina’s designs are quite versatile – from supercar Ferrari to bread-and-butter Peugeot, from slippery Ferrari Dino to angular Alfa 164. Its designs are never too radical to be practical (unlike Bertone, Gandini and Gale). On the contrary, it is renowned for being able to inject sense of sexiness and elegance into an ordinary car with just minor tweaks of shape and details – look at the magic it did to Peugeot 205 GTI, 406 Coupe, 306 Cab and Alfa GTV and you’ll get what I mean. That’s why it is the studio I admire most.
Pininfarina’s 3 core values, a design philosophy that’s stuck for more than 70 years

Experience, Creativity and Innovation, values that have always characterized Pininfarina’s business, as confirmed in the words of the men who have forged the history of the company.
Pinin Farina: “You ask me what Italian style means. It means sense of proportion, simplicity and harmony of line, such that after a considerable time, there is still something which is more alive than just a memory of beauty.”
Sergio Pininfarina: “The beauty of the shape is the result of a deep engagement aimed to reach the highest quality and the design is itself the meeting point between shape and technology, taste and functionality. Nothing seems to be more adapt to the so-called Italian genius than this permanent tension to harmonize beauty and functionality.”
Andrea Pininfarina: “The challenge is to maintain the highest quality. We are going to need to strip away from cars everything that is not essential over the next few years, and to return to functionality. To reach this it is necessary to combine creativity and innovation.”

Pininfarina’s distinctive trait – a hallmark of “Made in Italy” – has wound its way through 79 years of history and emotions, to outline the shape of the future.
Famous Designs

Pininfarina style



The Bertone logo distinguishes products that have become symbols of Italian design throughout the world “The exclusive image”

Is the creative heart of the BERTONE GROUP: the melting pot of ideas, new shapes, stylistic solutions that are ahead of their time. In the past 25 years, Bertone’s designs emphasised angular and wedged shapes. This made them looking special and futuristic but also drove customers away, especially in the organic-fancy late 80s and 90s. Today only Citroen remains to be its long-term admirer.
Innovation drives the style of Bertone designs, The design philosophy that characterises sed the life and work of Nuccio Bertone, a philosophy still at the heart of Bertone today: always striving to push back the boundaries of what is possible.

A hundred years of the car have produced drawings, designs and prototypes, concepts and forms that characterise our times, and fulfil our criteria of utility, efficiency and necessity. A car is a car if it is really a car, we could philosophise, bending the meaning of the object to its necessity of being and working like an object. Think of the great Bertone creations: the X 1/9, the Stratos, the Navajo, the Ramarro, not just intriguing names, and not just cars, these are images of the world we live in, symbols of power and perfection, industrial ‘beauties’ set like jewels in the ring of time.

Famous Designs



Unlike Bertone, Giugiaro loves concordant designs. His cars, except the ultra-low Lotus Esprit, never sacrifice practicality. As a result, many manufacturers from the West to the East adopt his designs, including VW Golf MkI, Fiat Croma, Punto, Renault 21, Isuzu Piazza, Subaru SVX, Lexus GS300 and recently the whole line-up of Daewoo.
It is necessary to mention that Giugiaro pioneered “tall-body” design with Fiat Panda and Uno which have a great influence to modern car design since then. However, after the Uno, Giugiaro’s designs lost most of the imagination that characterised his years in Bertone, Ghia and the early Italdesign years. Fiat Punto Mk1, Daweoo Matiz and Msaerati 3200GT are some of the rare attractive designs.
Unlike Pininfarina and Bertone, the 3rd largest studio in the world has not yet involved manufacturing.






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