Poised at his drawing board, the artist reaches far into space --of tomorrow." Slowly a form appears whose curves and angles and straight lines could be a 1988 or '89 offering by any one of a score of automobile manufacturers on three continents: North America, Japan, and Europe. Indeed, many of Giorgetto Giugiaro's ideas are traveling the highways and back roads and mountain passes of the world today.Skip to next paragraph
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Right now he's at the top of his trade -- one of the most sought-after automotive designers around -- with his credits running the gamut from the trend-setting Volkswagen Rabbit to the BMW M1 racing machine to the De Lorean sports car now being built near Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Giugiaro's studio, Ital Design, was set up in 1968 with the help of partners Aldo Mantovani and Luciano Bosio and is one of a half dozen world-known Italian carrozzeriem --Pininfarina, Bertone, and Ghia among them --city only a stone's throw away from the ragged peaks of the Italian Alps.
Indeed, this part of Italy is to the car industry today what Florence has long been to art.
Italian carrozzeriem have had an impact on car design that cannot be overstated. Numerous trend-setting ideas have had their genesis here.
Right up with the best of them is Ital Design.
Giorgetto Giugiaro -- controversial, always the individualist -- never shies away from the daring prototype, the distinctive design -- yet he never loses sight of the engineers, the production crew, and the car buyer.
"Dreaming counts for nothing," he declares. "It's realizing the dream that counts."
In May the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., will cosponsor an exclusive US exhibition, entitled "Carrozzeria Italiana: Art and Science of Automobile Design," and will include works by Bertone, Pininfarina, and Giugiaro. The show will highlight Italy's innovative and influential role in automobile design over the last 80 years.
Why has Giugiaro's star risen so fast and so high?
Maybe it's his energetic drive or fiery Italian nature. Certainly his designs speak for themselves.
Giugiaro, who sees himself as a "special kind of artist" -- very early rejected the traditional structure of the Turin-based Italian carrozzerie.m Maybe this alone put him on a fast track.
Instead of offering a design service alone, he would provide all the project support as well. He would go so far as to analyze the practicality of a project , design the machine tools to do the job, and keep a close eye on production times and cost. In other words, he would offer a full range of services to the carmaker who wants them. Also, his designs are good and the public buys them.
"Creativity is the simple part," he asserts, "because behind the creativity there are many technical and other problems."
Worldwide, automakers beat a path to his door.
Step into his office located down the hall on the second floor of the Ital Design building here, opened in 1974. Inside are examples of his paintings in oil and acrylic -- some on the walls, others sitting on the floor, among them Sammy Davis Jr., a Peruvian Indian family, and a clown. Giugiaro -- dressed in open-neck blue shirt, tan pants, and moccasins -- says he gets pleasure out of painting, a sense of relaxation and creativity which he sometimes longs for.
"Painting," he asserts, "is far more satisfying." Today, he doesn't have the time.
A spacious glasstop desk just inside the door is a place to think as is his large work space at the far end of the room where, with pencil in hand, his creative drive is let loose.
The inception of a Giugiaro design begins here.
"The first drawing always comes from Giugiaro," says a confidant. "He does the rough black-and-white sketches and the other people develop his ideas." However, they have to follow the target Giugiaro has set.
Perhaps the ultimate example of the firm's policy of "doing more" for the customer was the assembly line for the limited-production BMW M-1, a racing car for the West German manufacturer and a high-priced, limited-output sports car for the few motorists who are fortunate enough to buy one. Giugiaro not only gave shape to the car but built it as well. The cars were sent to Bauer in Stuttgart, an old-line coach-building firm, for final assembly and then shipped to the factory in Munich where the power train was put on.
Only some 450 cars were built -- about a dozen are in the US -- but if BMW decides to go into production again, Giugiaro may still be involved.
As a youth, Giugiaro studied painting at the Accademia de Belle Arti in Turin and later fashion design and illustrating, finally taking a three-year course in technical design.
All of this was quite natural because hadn't his father and grandfather before him worked at decorating churches and palaces?