I first saw Ford's Powerwall as a wide-eyed design student in 1993 or '94. It was about this size, maybe 20 feet or so:
Photorealistic CG wasn't widely available back then, or they had it and weren't showing it to us, but it was still wicked to watch as a staff designer whacked up a full-sized automobile sketch using a Wacom tablet and a drawing program of the era. With each stroke of his hand, huge pencil scribbles slashed across the screen, gradually taking the shapes of life-sized fenders, headlights and tires.
All twenty of us visiting students wanted to work there as soon as we saw the Powerwall. If the Ford guy had announced "We will give a job to anyone willing to murder their chaperone," all of us students would have began furiously whispering to each other in a huddle while our professor slowly backed out of the room.
I write this because this morning Ford announced they've opened their new Design Centre expansion in Merkenich-Cologne, Germany, a US $14 million facility featuring a new Powerwall, new milling machines for the clay models and redesigned studios. But reinforcing my belief that most PR folk don't know what the heck they're doing, there's no photos of the cool stuff in the release. Just these architectural renderings of the building:
They go on to describe all of the cool stuff inside--"The extension's open-plan design means there are no barriers between the teams that work at the Centre, to foster an open and inclusive atmosphere that is important to the design process..." and "In a design studio, you need plenty of space and natural light in order to view designs and concepts from different angles and distances..."—but they don't show us any of that!
We know that by 2007, Ford had upgraded their Powerwall to a 60-foot width. So we're dying to see the new one in Germany. All we have to go on is a fairly lousy video of their Michigan Powerwall shot in '07 that gives you no sense of its scale:
Ford PR, if you're reading this, please release some images or video of the non-confidential stuff inside the new digs! I, uh, totally didn't mean it earlier when I said you guys have no idea what you're doing. Or I didn't mean you specifically, I meant your assistant, I bet it was that guy's fault. In any case here's your chance to inspire a future generation of designers. I know you've already got the resumes pouring in, but a few more can't hurt, right?