Design Los Angeles 2006 features ten hot concepts

As it did last year, show management is showcasing "Design Los Angeles," a special day of seminars for design professionals from the fourteen automotive design studios located in Southern California. The general public will be able to catch a glimpse of the work done by these studios with the display of entries in a formal design competition, "An L.A. Adventure." Ten studios have submitted color renderings for the competition.

The keynote speaker for Design Los Angeles will be Chris Bangle, the chief of design for the BMW Group. Much of the design conference itself will feature technical presentations that relate to the design process. This has special appeal in Southern California, where there are more working design professionals than anywhere else in the world. Ken Okuyama, the design director for Pininfarina, will also make a presentation of the Maserati Birdcage 75th which will be on display at the show.

Design also promises to become an even larger part of the Los Angeles auto show in 2006, as the event will change its dates. After the 2006 show finishes in January, the 2007 Los Angeles auto show will take place 1-10 December 2006, and the show will assume this spot on the calendar for the future, making it the first event of the auto show season.

The auto manufacturers are reportedly enthusiastic about the date change, because it helps get the L.A. show away from its overlap with the Detroit show and the accompanying media clutter. As a result, there's a better chance that L.A. will become the preferred debut opportunity for new models, especially those being introduced by manufacturers based on the west coast. Moreover, the date change should also reduce the workload at the specialty shops that actually build concept cars (Metalcrafters, Inc. in nearby Santa Ana is one notable example), because the concept completion dates can be spread out over a longer time.

Perhaps these things will also make it more likely that we'll see a larger number of forward-looking design concepts on the floor of all the major auto shows. We've noticed a growing emphasis on lightly disguised production concepts in recent years, as there's been less time (and money) available to produce truly futuristic designs. Like the examples of "blue-sky" thinking you'll see in the renderings submitted to the Design Los Angeles that you'll see in the following pages, sometimes the future can be wacky and even silly, but sometimes you can find a spark of creativity that will lead to something useful.

The entries follow for "Design Challenge: An LA Adventure." We've included the names of the designers, a description of the project in their own words and our reaction.

Visit the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show for more information.

Audi Nero: The All-Nighter

Design by Jess Harder, Raul Cenan; Volkswagen/Audi Design Center California

The designers' description

The Audi Nero ("nero" is the Latin translation for the color "black") is a concept based on the evolution of the streamlined Auto Union racing cars of the 1930s, which set land-speed records on a German autobahn. The aerodynamic surfaces, covered wheels, and minimal ground clearance create a stealthy modern interpretation of its inspirational ancestors. The Nero's carbon-black color reflects the mood of L.A., while the strong silhouette is punctuated by compelling technical details. A translucent hood showcases a powerful, Auto Union-style, V-16 engine to back up the aggressive front end. The Nero super coupe is an expression of pure power, speed and style that turns any L.A. night into an adventure.

Our take

Batman meets Sin City, more proof that there has been a movie car lurking in the soul of every designer since the 1920s, when GM's Harley Earl built Roman chariots for silent pictures as a young designer in Los Angeles.

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