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Book Review: Cosmic Motors

Tue, 19 Aug 2008 00:00:00 -0700

It is the year 8966-B in Galaxion, a distant galaxy where Daniel Simon has spent the past two years creating visions for the Cosmic Motors brand. Beginning with the Camarudo ‘one-person motion device', the former VW designer puts aside gravity to find unique forms for future vehicles, accompanied by excellent narration that develops the CoMo story and describes the techniques he used.

All the vehicles in this stellar catalogue have been made into digital models with Autodesk AliasStudio - and the results are simply stunning. In the case of the Camarudo it is not just the exterior modeled, but the interior too, meticulously wrought to consider every last detail, from the etching on the oxygen canister and the peeling paint, to even the parachute instructions. The patina is unmatched and utterly tangible.

Concepts like this draw comparison to the podracers in Star Wars - something not unnoticed by Ryan Church, Art Director for Episodes II and III when he declared Daniel's work 'the next level of concept design'. As for the forms, the book extends designer and publisher Scott Robertson's technique of dramatic scaling to explode thumbnails into behemoths, especially in the next project, Icetrain, which looks like the T1000's kit-car constructed by Lilliputians. Along with wonderful characters drawn by artist John Park, the vehicle, context and story have been brought together by concept designer Dylan Cole in spectacular cinematic landscapes.

Taking the reader back to Earth year 2001 is the Djado fleet, which formed Daniel's thesis project at Pforzheim University: uniquely proportioned airships with strongly contrasting volumes that Car Design News said at the time '[remind] of the sort of design concepts one would expect for a science-fiction film'.

Beyond that lies the Galaxion 5000, the closest CoMo gets to cars. Indeed this premium coupe could have come straight from Bugatti, with an engine-trunk-cabin layout reminiscent of the 1901 6.8-liter, and it is here that Daniel shares his advanced automotive sketches bearing motifs bound to inspire any car designer.

Further to the artwork there is a warmth and openness to 'Cosmic Motors', which before Syd Mead's foreword has as its frontispiece a doodle by a three-year-old Daniel, while at the back is an anthology of photographs tracing the book's development and acknowledging his inspirational friends.

But it is Mead's tribute that is most telling of Daniel's achievement: that guy is hard to impress. Books such as 'Sentury' have long sat on studio shelves dropping jaws at coffee breaks, but in 'Cosmic Motors' Daniel establishes himself as being at least comparable to the futurist legend.

To a non-automotive audience, Mead's staggering scenes, architecture and technique would probably still impress more, but judged on vehicles alone Daniel has created a new benchmark. It's one hell of a portfolio.

Cosmic Motors by Daniel Simon, published by Design Studio Press, is available in English, German and Japanese, priced at $29.95 (softback) or $46.95 (hardback). Copies are available through Design Studio Press

Artist's website:
Daniel Simon

By Takeshi Sato