by Y. Mul Dul
CARS FOR BROKERS.
BIKES FOR BLUNT-SMOKERS.
Bavarian Motor Werks vs. Brooklyn Machine Works
The sites are strikingly similar -- minimal layout, freeze-framed action, close-up textures of product, Helvetica. A quick comparison of the two puts a face on street culture's embrace of old-school German/Swiss graphic design as an aesthetic antidote to the crush of consumer-culture graphical excess.
But is it more than a momentary swing of fashion which has brought the young street-bike company into stylistic parallel with the well-worn track of the established car manufacturer?
From what is visually digestible on the sites it is clear that both companies are at heart, selling the same thing -- performance and quality. The message is dressed in slightly different tones and texture, but these differences are surprisingly subtle given the wide cultural divide between the two audiences --a gap defined well by the geographic associations of the brands: BMW : Bavarian skill / German efficiency / European class. Brooklyn Machine Works : Brooklyn toughness / American know-how / inner-city street cred. Cultures divergent in aspirations, style, ethos and even spoken language.
The motor werks' site, http://www.bmw.com/bmwe/index.shtml, lets you take a tour of its upper end products (cars, motorcycles, related equipment and accessories), selective services (news, vehicle maintenance, even driving lessons), and "fascinating" shows (histories, events, and shows). The straightforward images and text show off and highlight the vehicles and cycles.
The bike company's site, http://www.brooklynmachineworks.com, keeps it even simpler and more direct. The homepage presents an action image captioned with one word links to the other main categories. Viewing their site lets you in on their unique line of off-road bicycles: "the burliest bikes in the business," accessories (clothing, tools and parts), news from the company (including their design evolution), images, and a section of video footage and surveillance photos, http://www.brooklynmachineworks.com/footage/index.htm, from their extensive product testing. The site reflects the basic energy of their product: high powered bicycle machinery.
Essentially, the companies are telling the same story, to a set of polar cultures, in the same visual language.
It might make the case that there exists an absolute visual vocabulary, containing universal aesthetic words for abstract concepts such as speed and strength, or it might be nothing -- a coincidental confluence of graphic trend, acronym and culture.
What do you think? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click above for a small, moving sample
go to brooklynmachineworks.com/footage for far more.