"I'm personally becoming more and more frustrated with new automobiles," said industrial designer Joey Ruiter in a 2013 interview about his first foray into car design, the Reboot Buggy. "The fluff, the marketing, the gadgets, the nicknacks, and the do-dads are overwhelming," he continued. Instead, Ruiter suggests we pare back automotive design to focus on the simple task it was made for: getting us from point A to point B. "Anything extra is purely for our personal comfort and enjoyment...I drive old era cars—cars that need your full attention when driving. I can feel the road, I hear the motor, and I understand what's happening around me mechanically."
Installation images courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum
This sentiment has been the starting point for all of Ruiter's automobile designs, a number of which are currently on view at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The show, titled Disruptors, pairs Ruiter's work with that of Dutch designer Rem D. Koolhaas (the nephew of the renowned architect), best known for designing architectural footwear and his brand, UnitedNude.
Given its setting, the show focuses on transportation design but includes some examples of the designer's other work for context. "Although Koolhaas and Ruiter do not come from automotive backgrounds, they both independently began applying their dramatic design approaches to the automobile, resulting in vehicles with limited facets and curves that are still technically advanced and fully functional," the museum notes.
All of the pieces in the show are fully functioning, despite their unusual aesthetics. The Moto Undone is powered by a 1500w 48v electric hub motor and has a range of 90 miles or about 3 hours.
The result proposes a future for automobile design that is decidedly minimal. Consider Ruiter's Moto Undone, a blocky, mirror-clad motorbike that's designed to disappear. "It's hard to image a motorcycle without fancy paint, overpowered motors, exposed mechanical genius, and sweet exhaust tones," Ruiter says. "Moto undone is pure generic transportation...the bike almost disappears, the rider just floats along the streets silently."
Then there's Koolhaas' Low-Res Car, which was made through a process that the designer sometimes uses to design his car-inspired shoes: making a 3-D scan of a model-size Lamborghini Countach and then manually manipulating the geometry and resolution of the image until the Countach's defining lines are no longer recognizable.
Disruptors will be on view at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles through March 2020.